How did I go from Starbucks to this?

This weekend I did something I rarely do.

I went window shopping.

To me, this pastime is not only senseless, it also serves to remind me that “if you ain’t got the money, you ain’t got the honey.”

Nevertheless, prompted by the fact the Significant Other was standing in line at Starbucks, I wandered into the shop next door.

I immediately walked past a display of handbags in front of the shop.

Never having been a purse addict, I failed to see the purpose of perusing the “winter” collection.

However, three steps later, I walked back.

Something compelled me to feel, smell, and look at one of the items that brings women to their knees.

No sooner had I grabbed one of the bags from the shelf, when one of the sales associates appeared as if by magic.

“She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
“She?”
“Yes. I consider handbags female since they’re women’s best friend.”
“Are they?”
“Most definitely! Why don’t you try it?”
“No, really…”
“Please. I insist. There. How does it feel?”
“Like a purse I neither need nor want.”
“But doesn’t it make you feel special? Doesn’t it make you feel powerful?”
(At this point, I was wondering, who is this woman and when did she fall on her head?)
“Not really. I think I’ll pass.”

A second later, the bag was being whisked from my arm and replaced on the little stand.

And I was being given a dismissal look.

Fortunately, the Significant Other was calling my cell phone to ask where the heck I’d gone off to.

Minutes later, as I drank my coffee, I pondered the sales associates’ words.

Seriously?

Has self presentation really dwindled down to things non-related to our level of kindness, compassion, and integrity?

Have we become so obsessed with the image we want to convey that we spend outrageous amounts of money on something as ridiculous as a purse, believing it’s what best represents power and who we are?

When did “presenting” take over “just being?”

Sadly, it would seem that just being has been defeated by the need to use artifacts to gain respect.

As a society, we continue to be fed the false belief that we have to buy, think, and do “this and that” if we want to create an appearance of status.

In order to impress others, we have to buy overpriced items like the purse in the shop, to send the message, “Look at me! I’m chic, trendy, and ahem, powerful!”

This leads me to think that somehow along the way, we’ve stopped placing worth on our “humanness” and instead, transferred presentation value to inane things.

This makes me sad.
Very sad.
And angry.

Ladies, we’ve come too far and worked too hard to prove our worth, power, and influence as productive members of society.

And last time I checked, a purse, shoes, and designer labels had nothing to do with it.

I say it’s time we empower ourselves through our acts of kindness, our willingness to help those in need, our intellect, and our ability to influence others with our experience and knowledge.

And really, expensive designer label purses?

Present me with one that provides me with the aforementioned qualities, and I’ll happily buy it.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to pass.

Do you feel we’re placing too much importance on material things?

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54 thoughts on “How did I go from Starbucks to this?

  1. The mere fact that you wrote a piece about this suggests that you, for one, don’t place too much importance on material things. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with appreciating a beautiful (albeit expensive) handbag or pair of shoes — as long as it’s not the be-all or end-all of one’s existence and it’s not at the expense of those oh-so-important acts of charity and kindness. Yes, from a standpoint of society, there is too much emphasis on material things. And, yet, there remains an undercurrent of something deeper in terms of what those very items may suggest.

    1. Deborah, I wholeheartedly agree. Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating beautiful things but like you mention, we have to draw a line somewhere. I’m left to wonder what drives some people to allow their lives to be taken over by material things. I’ve always associated this as a sort of enslavement; almost like being taken hostage. Wouldn’t you agree?

  2. Here! Here! I’m not a ‘things’ person. Always, I have tried to see beyond the trappings. You are so right. They say nothing about the person other than they like to shop. I prefer clean, well groomed, well patched if necessary, and a good level eye connection.

  3. An acquaintance once “complained” to me about the fancy handbag her husband and son bought her – supposedly very chic, you had to be on a waiting list, she felt it was too expensive, they really shouldn’t have splurged so much, etc. I’m afraid I disappointed her, as I neither expressed awe (nor even recognition) of the fancy name, but suggested if they were that pricey and hard to get, that she simply thank for husband for the thought and put it on eBay.

    I enjoy having well made, “nice” things, from time to time, but I certainly don’t sit up at night worrying about my lack of them. A nasty woman is a nasty woman, and the fact that she may be wearing some designer shoes, jewelry, or carrying a ridiculously overpriced handbag – I’m still not impressed.

    1. Beverly, we should have coffee some time. I believe we see eye to eye on this as well. There was a time I had a lot of nicer things than I do now but it didn’t necessarily mean I was happier. Do I appreciate a nicely made item? You bet I do, but like you, I’m not losing any sleep for not having it.

  4. Love the new header on your blog!

    I am not a materialistic person either and I do hear what you are saying. Our clothes and accessories do not define our worth .Not to mention, there are far better things to spend our hard-earned money on! I like pretty things but only if they are on sale or reasonably priced.

    The clothes we wear are just another form of self-expression. Nothing wrong with that. But I agree, THINGS should not define you. Great post!

    1. Michael Ann, it’s funny you mention that the way we dress is a form of self expression given I’ve always told the Son the exact thing. That said, I can’t but wonder what some women are trying to self express! I agree with you–pretty things are nice when they’re affordable and we don’t rely exclusively on them to estimate our self worth.

  5. I’m right there with you, Bella! My nod to “fashion” is my love for Vera Bradley handbags. I own three, and rotate them on occasion for interest’s and wear-and-tear’s sake; all three were bought at near-50% discounts, because I won’t pay full price; I can’t pay full price. I love the fabrics and the girly quality; love even more that they have tons of pockets inside to organize my stuff.

    They have absolutely nothing to do with my sense of self-worth and/or empowerment; that comes from integrity, kindness, etc. xoxo

  6. well, i’ve stumbled upon your site and enjoyed your rant. however, my wife is a very successful assesorizer(?) yet manages to not get caught up in the designer addiction. call it what it is. she is a kind, caring Christian woman who delights in looking her best when out and about. i delight in seeing her happy, and do not begrudge the money, alot of it hers, she spends in her efforts. she bargain shops for most of her things anyway. i agree with your feelings about the emphasis on material objects, but does this speak to the character of my wife? no, her value as a human being shines out from her face. i guess i am trying to say that people are what they are, and to avoid the ones who are so blatantly superficial. oh, how much do you spend making Roxy Lee look fashionable?

    1. Charles, hello and welcome! It’s always refreshing to have a male perspective on my rants! Thank you! How wonderful that your wife is a kind and caring person. I’m certain it makes your life a lot easier. Would you believe I don’t spend a dime on fashion for Roxy Lee? My sisters, mother and daughter outfit her for the changing seasons. It makes them happy to do so, and it makes me giggle to see her in her tiny outfits! :)

  7. doesn’t it make you powerful??, whahaha, such a stupid question!, how can a purse make me feel powerful?. I could feel I’m powerful and special everyday and it has nothing to do with the bag I’m carrying!!. I enjoy dressing up as a way of self-expression and love fashion blogs, but I think the true power is in what you’re and what you do!.
    I would feel powerful if wearing a bag that I made or that a friend of mine made for me!, this is such a better thing to wear!
    besos & power

    1. Senora Allnut, I hear you, and I second what you say! Absolutely! Sing it, sister! You remember how I blogged about carrying my things in a burlap tote? Well, I felt powerful in that too! And it’s because I’m the one that’s carrying the bag and not the other way around! I think you’re a powerful lady, no matter what! :)

  8. I would agree with Senora Allnut that the “does it make you feel powerful?” question was slightly stupid. I like a well made purse as much as the next lady, but at the end of the day it’s just something to hold my stuff.

    Thank you for writing about this. While I like nice things I also think that our society is way to materialistic. I recently wrote about my wedding and some of the reactions I got because I wasn’t having a massive wedding, which I think fits into this theme fairly well.

    1. Rachel, I discovered a long time ago that it was tiring, boring and frutless to try to meet society’s expectations. I say, good for you for having your wedding the way you wanted to and not how others expected you too! I think some of the sales associates are clued in to prey on people’s insecurities. Which makes me wonder, did I look powerless that day? hee hee! :)

  9. I once eyed a purse in a shop in California (was with hubby on a conference). I loved it and I think it loved me. Then, after a similar exchange with the sales associate, I asked her “So how will it do in a typical Canadian winter? You know … snow, sleet, slush, freezing rain … fun stuff like that?” Her answer: “Not so well, at all!” , and honest to God, she took that purse from me and put it back, like, why would I ever do that to a purse?
    Enjoyed your post – as always!

    1. Astra, that purse didn’t deserve you or the Canadian weather! Shows goes to show you that silly purses aren’t fit to handle all the wonderful that is us! :)

  10. If I could write ‘bravo’ in every single language to give you the proper effect, I would. Great post, Bella! For me, what you are saying has nothing to do with how much something costs, whether its on sale or not. It has to do with many people’s ideas that ‘things’ make them happy. Yes, some things impart a kind of happy, but not a happy that runs very deep, so we tend to go from short happy to short happy and in the end feel like we could have led much more meaningful lives. But for most people, they don’t know to break the cycle or when they do, they have either had some terrible tragedy in their life that forces them to wake up, or they are old and alone and finally quiet enough to question their inner self. All that to say, its not the outer journey but the inner journey that truly matters. It took courage to publish such a post Bella, and I hope you know how much I appreciate it. After all, the way I see it, we are all in this together:)

    1. Brynne, you get me. You really get me. That’s why you’re one of my favorite people! And yes, you’re right–life should be about the inner journey. I’m with you, sister! :)

  11. OH…this is one of my biggest pet peeves…I know ladies at MY CHURCH who boast about having gotten a Coach purse on sale at the outlet mall for ONLY $300! WHATTTTTT??? Do you know that, as a single mom for the the last 8 years, $300 could feed my little family of four for an entire month? And you’re spending it on a purse? Realllllly??? Shoot, me…I like purses, but I seriously cringe if I have to pay more than $25 for one. *sigh* I agree…the world has gone quite mad.

    1. Doris, the world has gone to hell in a basket, as my nana would say. I wonder if the ladies from your church realize most times, they’re paying 300 bucks for last season, flawed, didn’t pass inspection, items. Are you kidding me? And you’re spot on regarding what we could do with that amount of money. Me? I could purchase a new water heater since mine is slowly but surely dying! :)

  12. Good for you for not getting pressured, Bella! I admit, I cave when salespeople start trying to pin me down on something. I know they’re just doing their jobs and they need to make a buck, but I almost never want their help. “Just looking,” and “Sorry, broke as a joke” seem to keep them away, generally. As for status symbols, grow up people. And FYI, most of us feel loads of bling = a lower IQ, lower self worth, or high levels of hootchiness. Just sayin….

    Lovin the new blog! How are you liking wordpress thus far? Considering switching myself.

    1. bwhahaha! High levels of hootchiness! Oh girl, you make me laugh! You know, I’ve never had trouble keeping salespeople at bay. My secret is not making any eye contact! hee hee! I love the “broke as a joke” saying, though. I think I’ll nab that one! Lori, I’ve always had WordPress. I tried Blogger a long time ago but it wasn’t for me. What I did was change my background and header. I trust you approve? Come on over and join us! :)

  13. You are so right that we as a society put too much value on accumulating things and on looking a certain way. However, I think there’s nothing wrong with choosing clothes and accessories that are flattering and attractive. I find I have more energy to be pleasant when I feel put together. I freely admit to having more purses than I need, but I like colorful ones and I like the color to match my mood. So I shop the sales and I shy away from designer bags. I just want something cheerful on my shoulder.

    1. Shary, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing clothes and accessories that are flattering and attractive. What I’m trying to point out is that we shouldn’t depend on this things to define who we are as people; to determine our self-worth or even influence our moods. At the end of the day, we have the power to make ourselves happy and while a bag may accomplish that, it shouldn’t be the only thing that has the ability to accomplish this.

  14. Yes sistah, amen! Tell it like it is! We are in the world but not of it. That means, to me, that I am not what I own. I don’t need status symbols like expensive purses or cars or clothes that denote prestige. My treasures are inward. That’s enough for me. Wonderful post Bella!

    1. Debra, you realize I do the happy dance every time I get your seal of approval, don’t you? :) I knew you would have my back, sister! I’m delighted you like the post!

  15. LOL, so true and so funny!! I bet half of the women with the over-priced bags only have changes in their wallets. I’ll continue to carry my no name brand and keep the twenty, make that ten dollars in their for gas. Great blog!

    1. Eve, thank you! You are indeed wise to hang on to your twenty. These are hard times! :) I smiled as I read your comment “I bet half the women with the over-priced bags only have change in their wallets.” I think you’re right! I would assume it’s very much like the ones who drive European imports but only eat grilled cheese sandwiches! :)

  16. Oh Bella, you hit the nail right on the head. I just bought a new bag a few days ago at a local market. It was burlap tote with the company logo of the seller’s bakery shop. How much? I ask. When she said 2.50€ I said to add 3 packages of her cookies (they were 2.50€ each) and let’s make it a 10. A good thing Prada doesn’t sell cookies.

    1. Rowena, now that’s what I call a deal! Hit me up! Prada selling cookies? I’m afraid it that they were the case, we’d be their only two customers! :)

  17. I do love bags, but not the girrly sort that come with labels. I am into those nerdy ones purchased at REI or give em a Timbuk2 and I am all a flutter. People do love to advertise brands with their bags, shoes, jeans, shirts, even jewelery. I confess I do have lines of clothing that I like and look for, but not because of the label, but because they fit my curvy Latin frame nicely. I doubt anyone would know I was wearing a this or a that, and only hope they think.. fine looking woman.

    1. Brenda, I’m certain those who look at you can only think, “fine looking woman!” :) Good for you for singling out those items that accomodate your curvy frame!

  18. Window shopping just makes me tired. Looking a bunch of things I neither need nor want, what for?

    As for the material stuff, well, I do enjoy my Emily the Strange messenger bag (the one with the skeleton kitties who still have their hearts). I also enjoy my Doc Martens cherry red boots, and my Converse sneakers (dark red). Some of those things I find amusing, and some of them are really practical and comfortable. I suppose I could think of some other material stuff I have and like.

    But does any of it represent me? Would I be heart-broken if I lost any of them? Nope. I’d be annoyed I have to go and buy new shoes or something, and that would be it.

    1. Ivana, I feel the same way about my Chucks, but like you, it’s because how versatile and comfortable they are. I admit to having a penchant for Ugg boots, but only cause certain models are indestructible. I’ve had one particular pair of Uggs for the last eight years! I still wear them.

  19. Another well written piece with your usual sassy sorcery, Bella. And HOL (howl out loud), at the outset I was thinking my usual subterranean thoughts, such as: purse = womb and oh yes, to have a womb is to be powerful indeed. But seriously, who but the infertile would go around wishing for a brand new womb every season? Pshahhhh, we’ve been hoodwinked by our consumer culture. Or is that womb-winked…

    1. Kathy, and I’m howling at the thought that as society we’ve been womb-winked! Trust you to come up with this association! Love it! I’m tickled pink you enjoyed the post! :)

  20. What? My value isn’t measured by my ability to purchase beyond my means? My whole world has just crumbled. (end sarcasm)

    I love this post. A good reminder to think about what we really value. A person who is warm and kind and generous and empathetic has real worth. And a person who stands up for what they believe to be right is powerful.

  21. Sista! I’m going backwards and I am still impressed :). I agree wholeheartedly that women have a very long and vested interest in the materialization of self. I think men do as well but we’re not talking about them :). It’s all hogwash. She was trying to tap into your mind and buying impulse by using s ome heavy handed sales technique. Times are hard and folks are desperate lol. Nonetheless, to be dismissive because you didn’t buy into her f*ckery was ungracious, at the very least.

    You pointed out the many things that make a woman buy into the need for high priced items and as eloquently stated, they are worthless. At least not the kind of wealth (wisdom) that one should seek to attain to be a better human being. At 20+ I understand the fascination, hype and delusion. Grown folks should know better. Will ite ever change in capatilisitic, patriarchal society? I doubt it.

    1. Sadly, Coco, you speak the truth. I fear it will never change, at least not until people realize there’s more to life than Coach. Although, what am I saying, Coach is the new Payless. It used to be that you saw a fine bag and though, now that’s a bag, but now with everyone feeding into the hype to have this and that, it’s lost its appeal. I also agree that age definitely has to do with it. I wish I could back to my twenties with the wisdom I presume to have now. Now that would be grand! Thanks for your insight, sister! And do keep going backwards! You have much to read, friend! :)

  22. OMG “Coach is the new Payless” lmao. So it would seem and WHY lol. I begged one of my BF at 20+ to get me a COuch for Xmas. I STILL have that $500 bag and can I tell you it looks brand NEW?! The construction and quality of the leather is off da chain. But it’s a positive scandal that women are dropping a cool G on a bag?! Ummm, why? Sheer nonsense. Rant over. :)

    1. Coco, I love your rants! They are very much welcome on this blog! Keep ’em comin’! :) As for dropping a cool g on a bag, I don’t think so, Na uh! hee hee!

  23. How wonderful this post is! The saddest thing of all is that so many women are stressed because they can’t afford this crap. I say crap because it is a leather purse. Its’ designer knock-off looks identical (and often made by the same company). I love good leather anything. I will pay (within reason) if something like that is worth it and I will be able to keep it a lifetime. I am against designers who create a very few purses, charging $5000+ then and causing a desperate frenzy in the “I gotta have this bag to be IN.” STUFF is only that, stuff. It doesn’t help me lose weight to carry an expensive leather purse. Or make me a better person. If I am stupid, it makes me broke.

    1. Sing it, sister! I couldn’t agree with you more! Hey, did should make purses that help us lose weight! I would be the first in line to be that one! hee hee!

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