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Should I feel bad for being a materialist and taking joy from things? 

To buy the sparkly dress, or not to buy?

Materialist culture has always had a bad reputation, calling those who buy into it “selfish”. In general, people develop materialist tendencies when dealing with anxiety or feeling insecure, it becomes a coping mechanism that gives you a rush of happiness. 

Author of Material Girl, Mystical World, Ruby Warrington says; “I’m a human being… and I live on planet earth and the mere fact of having a physical body makes me a material being – I still have physical needs that must be met.” Finding value in the new outfit you bought last week because it makes you feel good about yourself or the pillows you bought to create a comfy environment, doesn’t make you a bad person. 

The issue lies in appreciating the quick burst of happiness but realising that in the longterm you are not fulfilled. The feeling you may be trying to avoid by scrolling through ASOS doesn’t go away because of the new handbag in your wardrobe. The reality is you are just poorer. My new year’s resolution for 2021 was to spend less money on things I actually don’t need, and so far I’ve managed to save my money and I haven’t bought a single item of non-essential clothing. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reestablished that our freedom and relationships we have with other people are what we truly value and are vital for our wellbeing and survival. I never thought that going for a walk with a friend could be just as rewarding as an expensive night out or trip away. Due to the restrictions, we can’t actually have these days or meals out and as a result, we appreciate the conversations with friends and family even more. 

It can be hard to fight the urge to spend money on that great deal you saw advertised yesterday and capitalist society bombards us with adverts and pop-ups all day long. Resisting these traps is challenging which is why I suggest keeping an item you want on your wishlist and a week later ask yourself, do I still really need this? If the answer is yes – go for it! Trying to be less wasteful and sourcing items responsibly is also an effective way to fuel these spending urges whilst being environmentally conscious. 

So is being a materialist something I should feel guilty for? Overall it doesn’t make you a shallow person, but if you can find an activity or a creative outlet that gives you the same satisfaction, your wallet might thank you later! 

I’m a Hispanic Studies student (Spanish, Portuguese & Catalan) at the University of Bristol! I love all things musical theatre and having a boogie!
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