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The International Writers Magazine

Ready- Steady- Shop
Rebecca Kingsbury

This inclination of society can be the scariest when thought of in its entirety. It controls every little element in our lives. From the toothbrush we use to the house we buy. Brands are vital to life it would seem when you look at the high street – Playboy, Adidas, Gap, Colgate, Ribena, Hovis. This belief that money and possessions are more important than other things in life I believe can be crippling to society.

It starts with childhood – children being bullied for not having the brand trainers or bag. Coming from a poorer background I know how hard it is for parents to say no to spending £100 on a pair of trainers when their child seems desperate for them, and I know how frustrating it can be for a child who knows they will be picked on if they don’t get them but is aware that the money is not there. Cheap alternatives are not accepted and this continues throughout primary and secondary school.

Everything is structured to make you buy, buy, buy. The layout in supermarkets and shops is specifically displayed in a certain way to tempt you into impulse buying, because the majority of things we buy when we go shopping we don’t need. But for some reason we buy them anyway. When I go shopping, I know I don’t need any more T-shirts or trousers, but the impulse to buy because I like that top or everyone has that skirt or I would look good in those trousers, is so strong. It seems to be injected into us at birth – this consumerist culture.

The western world is obsessed with aesthetic qualities. Famous footballers, actors, and celebrities have to be seen wearing the brands, are even paid to do so. Paid to set a bad example for children and reinforce their supposed need for such clothes, shoes, and trivial things. Everyone has to have the right things to be popular, to have a life, to feel of value. Is this really the kind of society we want to have? Is this the way we want to live?

A world without the need for possessions is impossible in reality. For money is what people have worked for throughout history, to feed their families, to have a home. Even in developing countries, they have a desire to own things. Take a box of pens with you to Africa and you will be swamped with eager children wanting this westernised object. This just shows that this obsessive culture is spreading.

Materialism is the way the world works, whether it’s corruptive or constructive I am not sure. I feel that when you look at the world this is a distressing quality of it but one we seem incapable of changing. People will always shop, spend and want more.

© Rebecca Kingsbury Dec 2004

Becca is a Creative Writing student at Portsmouth University
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