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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Individuality

I am a non-conformist. I never feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Whatever becomes a trend, I try to avoid like a mutant flu. I do not want to dress myself or my kids like every other person. I do not want to go on vacation to the same places my friends just did (which is nowhere by the way). I do not feel left out if I choose to read some obscure book rather than the latest overrated series. I will buy a stroller that meets my needs, and not because it is the stroller that every self-absorbed celebrity is using at the moment. I am basically comfortable with who I am, and I have no need to try to be, well, that other person.

I once had a friend ask me when I would purchase a "Louis Vuitton" handbag? I did not quite understand the question. First, she was assuming I could afford this very recognizable handbag. Second, she was assuming I want this very recognizable handbag. Even if I were ever to buy a designer handbag, "Lois Vuitton" would be last on my list, because it is so recognizable.

I explained to my friend, instead of buying this overpriced piece of cow hide that probably 8 out of 10 women own (6 of whom probably spent way beyond their means) I would use my money in a more creative way and come out with a one of a kind handbag and a vacation. I would take the money and purchase tickets to Guatemala. While there I would visit a village and meet interesting people who spend their time weaving baskets and making pottery, and I would ask them to point me to the woman who makes beautiful, handmade, one of a kind handbags. I would meet a woman named Jualiah (pronounced Walia) who is sitting barefoot in the dirt surrounded by five children who look slightly undernourished, putting the last touches on an exquisite leather and straw combined over the shoulder carrier of some sort. I would remark on it's beauty and she would offer it to me for one dollar (because that will feed her five children for a week). I offer her ten dollars and she feels rich because she can now feed her kids for ten weeks. She goes home with food and I go home with the most unique purse and an experience of a lifetime.

I do not own Crocs, I will not buy Uggs. When I had to wear a uniform in high school, I added my green and blue checkered tie, and when everyone else was wearing penny loafers, I chose black patent leather shoes with silver metal studs and a sheer black ribbon as laces (it was the early 90's, it was cool then, trust me).

Before all you "Ugg" wearing, "Louis Vuitton" carrying "Croc" walkers get more steamed at me, I am in no way trying to insinuate that EVERYONE who purchases what happens to be the latest trend, is just an unoriginal wannabe. I know that y'all love your comfy Crocs, and your warm Uggs and your, well your, really works the same as every other purse - Louis Vuitton. But, if you think about it, aren't there other REALLY REALLY comfy shoes that are not Crocs and don't other brands of boots keep your feet just as warm, if not warmer than Uggs? And if you are being honest with yourself, won't you discover that some of the choices you make when purchasing clothing and plane tickets and music and books and even your shampoo, is based on what is fed to you by friends and the media?

We are probably all guilty of this (including myself) to some degree. But it seems some people can not live their life unless they live it like the next person. I am not saying that someone who earns enough money, is not entitled to treat themselves to something that has a designer label attached to it, or reward themselves with something that five of their friends also own. Of course that person has the right to make the luxury purchase, but what are the motives behind it? Even though I have no interest in buying Crocs for myself, I did buy them for my kids the past two summers. But, they have replaced the leather sandals I used to buy because Crocs can also be used in the various sprinklers and water play areas that my kids frequent in the summer.

In the 80's when "Keds" canvas shoes were very popular, I had one friend who wanted them so badly, but her mother would only purchase canvas shoes from "Payless". When another friend was ready to dispose of her "Keds" this first friend asked for the shoes. She then removed the recognizable blue "Keds" label from the back of the shoes and glued them onto the back of her "Payless" canvas shoes. Why? It did not change the comfort of the shoe she was wearing. It was her motive that was all wrong. She needs to grow some self esteem and become a leader not a follower.

Off the top of my head, I can think of 40 - 50 stores that sell down coats made of pretty much the same fill of down, made from the same quality of materials, and yet it seems that most people will only get the one that says "Northface" on it. There is nothing wrong with that. But be honest - are you making the "Northface" purchase because of the 10 different brands you tried on, it has the best fit and is the most comfortable, or did you make a beeline straight for the "Northface" coat because six of your cool friends or neighbors are wearing it? Most people don't realize that companies such as "Northface" which make various styles of coats under their brand name, also make the same coats (maybe, varying styles) for other stores. This is called "private label" and it happens with clothing, medications, toiletries, food, etc...

Personally, I am a non-conformist because I like to retain my sense of individuality. I do not want to become a "Stepford Wife" or a "Stepford Person" for that matter. So the next time you are about to make a decision about where to go, what to do, what to eat, what to buy, ask yourself - am I making this decision because a magazine told me to, a commercial, a friend? Or am I making this decision because it truly captures the essence of who I am and what I like. You might be surprised at your answer.



1 have shown Orah a little love:

Yitz/Yaffa said...

I thought this was fitting. http://torahportion.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/dvar-torah-parshat-chaye-sarah-2008-5769/