I just realized: I am the perfect consumer.
The only reason I want expensive things is to gain the approval of the Cool Kids Club that decides what is cool–aka, my peers (and really, aka me, which is the really fucked up part). Someone took a picture of this girl because that person thinks she is good and pretty and correct. And all the people who enjoy or reblog or “like” this picture believe the same thing. I want the people who took the picture of this girl to take pictures of me and say, “Yes, she is good, she is pretty, she is correct.” This model is wearing a Michael Kors bag and I’m like, oh I can afford Michael Kors and I carry a Michael Kors bag so I am good and pretty and correct and I don’t need to try harder to get more expensive bags because this model that is obviously admired doesn’t have a more expensive bag. But if she were wearing a more expensive bag, I would feel unworthy with my inexpensive Michael Kors bag, and I would feel the need to strive for that more expensive bag, or whatever the Media Image of Goodness and Worthiness was wearing. So I want to work harder to make more money to buy more expensive items to feel happy. I am the perfect consumer. The conglomerates smile upon me with satisfaction, knowing I have turned out exactly the way they planned; could not have been better. They’re all selling something that I need to have in order to be good and pretty and correct: mascaras, toners, night creams, high heels, blazers with leather trims, $700 brass woks with matching tea sets; I am a fucking slave. It’s the same way with beauty and thinness. I only want to be thin because other people tell me, “This person that is thin is good and pretty and correct.” If the media told me, “This person that is a size 8 and carrying her grandmother’s hand-me-down bag is good and pretty and correct,” my relationship with myself would be a lot different than it is now. I would have higher self-worth, higher self-approval, lower self-inflicted pressure to be something I am not, and therefore less anxiety over how I cannot seem to be the size 0 model with a $12,000 Birkin. The reason why I cannot be that is because I am just not that. And there is no reason that I should try to be. The only reason I have ever tried to be something I am not is to glean the approval of a fucked up, media-saturated version of myself that does not have her eyes on what she really wants. I have allowed other people to define for me what it is I want–Gossip Girl told me that I want a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Rich Kids of Instagram told me that I want a black Birkin. Tumblr told me I want nice tits and lace underwear and Louboutin heels and a sugar daddy to buy it all for me. I need to start asking myself what I want. Emma Elizabeth Clarke, the real version of myself that turns off media influence and decides for herself what is important to her.