Because we're worth it
From The Sunday Times
October 7, 2007
Our shopping habits are out of control – as are debt levels. So when is this narcissistic spree going to stop?
A survey by ClearDebt, published recently in More magazine, showed that about 8 in 10 women are spending more than they earn.
Of 2,000 women polled, half owed an average of £3,830 on credit cards, and 40% have been bailed out by their parents. Men may have to save up for ages for a car, a suit or a new laptop, but then they have the money to pay for it. Sorry, sisters, but the trend of “binge debt” is basically a female phenomenon.
Now, shopping is the No 1 leisure activity, rather than a boring household chore.
Even when we go away for weekends we spend part of them shopping – because we’re hooked on buying stuff, and spending money has become a basic human right. We are what we buy, and we buy because we are. “L’Oréal’s slogan ‘Because you’re worth it’ has come to epitomise the banal narcissism of early 21st-century capitalism: easy indulgence and effortless self-love all available at a flick of the credit card,” says Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation think-tank.
“I don’t impulse-buy; I always think carefully before I spend money on something,” says the writer Liz Jones. Then, in the next breath, she confesses to having just bought an “elephant club chair” and, oh yes, a house. “But I’ve still got a terrible credit rating, and the bailiffs have been round. What happens is, I get what I want, and then I discover that it doesn’t make me any happier and then I get depressed.
After you’ve discovered that the new handbag will not, after all, change your life, you discover, to your chagrin, that you’re still the same person – then what?
The cunning, insidious brilliance of the slogan “Because you’re worth it” persuaded many women that debt should never be an obstacle to spending, because their only debt was to themselves.