Confessions of a Shopping Bulimic
I buy and return, buy and return. Why?
-Melina Gerosa Bellows
My Saturday to-do list reads like a shopaholic’s dream: Anthropologie, H &M, and Banana Republic. But I’m not shopping, at least not today. Instead, I’m returning some things that I couldn’t do without just a few days earlier.
I don’t have much free time, and I’ve come to realize that I spend a lot of it shopping and returning. I love the stuff when I’m in the store, but once I get home I either change my mind, or have buyers’ remorse about the cost. (I paid what??) So I search for the receipt, troop back to the store, stand in line and make the return. Sometimes, I even start shopping again.
It’s really annoying.
I’m trying to figure out why I keep doing it. Maybe it’s because I want to get control of all the variables in my life. After six months of dieting, my body has changed. (I need new clothes for my new size.) The seasons are in transition; it was in the 40s last week and the temp hit 75 today. (I need heavier clothes, or lighter clothes, to face the weather.)
My identity flip-flops as well. By day, I’m an executive at a publishing company; on weekends, I’m a mom on the go. But I have as hard a time pulling together a casual look for a Saturday dinner as I do dressing for an important presentation. I can’t seem to find a simple answer to the question of what’s comfortable, appropriate and flattering. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to find the looks that express me perfectly – at every store from Filene’s Basement to Cartier. I’m a compulsive person, after all, so it’s no surprise that I shop compulsively.
I could also be trying to relieve some stress; emotional shopping can be as big a problem as emotional eating.
Then there’s another factor: I’m a sucker for a deal. If it’s on sale, or if I uncover a designer piece at a discount store, I feel like a treasure hunter who’s just struck gold. It’s only when the heady buzz of the purchase wears off that I realize I look like a clown in the striped Dolce and Gabbana blazer that I got for 90% off. I can return it and get my money back, but I can’t get back the time it takes me to do that. And I’m finally realizing that time is more precious than money.
That’s why I’m putting an end to the cycle. It’s a tough habit to break, and I’ll probably backslide a few times in the coming months, but I’ve conquered bigger and more difficult obstacles. I can do it.
And when I’m scheduling my weekends, I’m including time to do art projects with my kids, visit with friends and write in a café.
But don’t look for me at the sale rack or the returns department! I don’t plan on going there.
Meditator and martini drinker Melina Gerosa Bellows juggles the competing needs of two preschoolers, a demanding job, and her inner fat child in Washington D.C.