The Secret Life of a Clothing Shopaholic

Yes, I am a recovering clothing shopaholic. Perhaps you think clothing shopaholics are just women who can’t control their urge to spend money on clothes. But that really isn’t what the addiction is all about. There is a big misconception about clothes shopping addiction. So I am going to let you in on the truth about it and tell you all about the secret fantasy life of the women who have it. You see, all female clothing shopaholics have one thing in common:

WE CRAVE FLATTERY, ENVY, AND COMPLIMENTS ON OUR APPEARANCE EVERY DAY OF OUR LIFE.

When we get a compliment or an admiring stare on the way we look, we feel great. And here is another truth about our addiction: we all have a “female appraiser”. A “female appraiser” is the female in our life that we always imagine envying us and complimenting us when we try on new clothes. She is the one we always wear new outfits in front of to get appraisal and compliments about how we look. She is the one who notices every new pair of shoes, every new piece of jewelry, whether our hair looks particularly healthy and attractive that day, and every new item of clothing we are wearing to the minutest degree. She dissects us physically; she is our lifeblood to feeling we exist; by noticing us, envying us and complimenting us; she makes us feel alive.

And we are her female appraiser as well. We notice every new item she wears and we comment about how good she looks as well. We often envy her appearance and new outfits. Our relationship is the mutual symbiotic feeding of our ego envy. Usually our female appraiser is our female mother, sister, friend or coworker who we subconsciously compete and look to get approval from about our appearance. We always try to upstage her in appearance and make her feel envious of us; we always think about whether what we buy will make her envy how we look before we buy it and when she sees a new outfit on us and we feel her envy (of course the ultimate high is when she asks us where we bought it) we have our ultimate addictive fix. We even watch how many people notice us more than her when the two of us walk together in public, to know that we are getting more attention than she is. Yes, it’s an “envy/dislike/need of approval dynamic” we have with our female appraiser (or multiple female appraisers) on a complicated physical and emotional level.

When I was a clothing shopaholic, I lived for clothes, they were my life passion. I still love clothes. But I am less in need of the power they give me to be noticed, admired, and envied. The need to shop for clothes and imagine wearing them and getting compliments from women when I wear them has taken less of a hold on me. But there was a time when shopping for clothes was an essential part of my daily life because I lived for the attention and praise those new outfits gave me.  I would  fantasize as I tried them on in the store and imagine being envied by my female appraiser when I wore them. And once I bought them, wearing them always made me feel special and alive when I got that attention, envy and praise from my “female appraiser”. I always needed to wear something new to be noticed and that is why the money was spent; to continually have new clothes to wear so I would continually get compliments and be noticed. When I wore that outfit a second time, it wasn’t new anymore and no compliments were given because they’d already been given when I wore it the first time. So that outfit did not serve its purpose any more for my addiction unless I wore it in front of a different female appraiser who never saw it before (sometimes I had 3 or more female appraisers in my life). On the days I wore an outfit that I received no attention about, I actually felt invisible and depressed. Sometimes just thinking about another new outfit I would wear the next day and how good I’d look and how envied I’d be was all I thought about on those depressing days. It was the only thing that kept me going; imaging that outfit in my closet and the power it would give me to be noticed and complimented.. I’d fantasize about the shoes I’d wear with the outfit and how I’d match my eye shadow to it and the admiration I’d be getting. Because I always knew exactly what to buy and wear that would make my female appraiser envious and wish she had my clothes and got the attention I was geting. And what a euphoric high that would give me; even thinking about that happening.

Clothing shopaholics have an odd addiction because when you take away the women you feel competitive with, the addiction loses its hold on you. That’s because the addiction is about fantasizing about being envied for how you look in clothes. But take away the female appraiser, and you don’t have the envy and you lose the need to fantasize or shop for clothes. Of course, eliminating female appraisers in your life isn’t easy. As long as you have a mother or work in a corporate office, or have a female sibling you see, you will have a woman in your life assessing your appearance. Even when babysitting my friend’s 10 year old daughter, she assessed my appearance by informing me my pants didn’t match my top; “the colors were off” she told me. And here I thought I was free of that kind of appraisal from children and could just “throw on sweats and any old top.” After all, why care what a 10 year old girl thinks about how I look when I’m babysitting her? But yes, her comment did bother me, although I stood my ground and refused to change my clothes. Needless to say, she is a budding clothing shopaholic in the making.

Here are some more truths about this secret clothing shopaholic life: I would go into my favorite clothes stores every day to return clothes (which I loved to do because it gave me an excuse to shop again) and always walk out buying something else, usually something I knew I would probably return. Walking into a store filled with clothes and breathing in the smell of new clothes gave me a euphoric high. Trying some new outfit on and imaging my female appraiser noticing it and complimenting me on it and asking me where I bought it; just imaging that happening as I tried on the clothes in a store gave me an adrenaline rush. This is what my clothing shopaholic addiction was about. Most women who are clothing shopaholics are clueless about what the core of their addiction is about. They think it’s about an addictive need to spend money, but it really isn’t about that. Yes, you do need to spend money to buy new clothes to feed your “attention fix”, because without buying something new, you don’t wear something new; and without wearing something new, you don’t get your “fix”. And you have to go to a store to try on something so you can experience the fantasy in your head of getting the attention, which is the first stage of the addiction.

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