On being an offbeat consumer

One of my new favorite blogs is called "You Are Not So Smart," an homage to the psychology of irrational thinking. One of David McRaney's recent posts addressed the whole concept of "selling out." Although the angle felt a little remedial to this particular aging navel-gazing counter-culturist ("Duuuuude, you mean you're saying you can't rebel against consumerism by buying alternative stuff? You just blew my fucking mind! Now stop boggarting…") it's still an excellent read, especially through the filter of offbeat wedding planning.

"the system" doesn't give a shit about conformity. In fact, it loves diversity and needs people like hipsters and music snobs so it can thrive.

In other words, the Wedding Industrial Complex LOVES your unique elements and alternative twists. Go read the article, and then come back and let's discuss.

Here are a few choice quotes from the article that I thought were relevant to Offbeat culture:

The counter-culture, the indie fans and the underground stars – they are the driving force behind capitalism. They are the engine.

So here's the weird thing: I am now technically a member of the Wedding Industrial Complex. I work in the wedding industry! ME! A slovenly bride who wore a dress cobbled together from an eBay prom dress and a corset made by a drug addled Burning Man designer; a bride who gave ugly used mugs to her guests as "favors" (HA!); a bride who now makes her living from the wedding industry. I like to think my particular way of working in the industry (helping like-minded brides and vendors find each other though advertising) is helpful and authentic, but it's built basically on the idea that "the indie fans and underground stars" should feel like their weddings fit them.

To be clear, I don't see consumer as a bad word. Everyone's doing it. You just have to be clear on your consumer values, and stick to them. Maybe it's that you'll only buy from indie vendors on Etsy. Maybe it's that you want the cheapest deal so you can save up for your Master's Degree. Maybe for you it's that you'll only pay your friends. Whatever: consuming isn't bad. Mindless consumption is the enemy here.

Today, everyone is a consumer, and has to pick from the same selection of goods as everyone else, and because of this people now define their personalities on how good their taste is, or how clever, or how obscure, or how ironic their choices are.

This is part of why, whenever people have asked me for "tips on how to have a more offbeat wedding," I always shrug, quote yoda, and say I don't know. All you can do is try to have an authentic wedding, because whether you're trying to keep up with any kind of tastemaker (Martha Stewart, Offbeat Bride) or whether you're rebelling against them (fuck you and your weddings! I'm not getting married/getting married at a courthouse/getting married dressed like Satan/Not having a ring pillow even though I sort of like them because I'm SUPPOSED to have a ring pillow and don't go telling me what I'm supposed to like. Even though I do like it!) … you're planning a wedding for someone else.

Having a dissenting opinion on movies, music or clothes, or owning clever or obscure possessions is the way middle-class people fight each other for status. They can't out-consume each other because they can't afford it, but they can out-taste each other.

Ouch. It's cynical but you know what? It's true, and I see this embodied all sorts of ways in nontraditonal wedding culture. DIY machismo is one example. Wedding hipsterism is another, where novelty threatens to overwhelm authenticity. Budget one-lowsmanship, where how little money you spend is a matter of stern pride, and you get judgey about how much others spend. It's all forms of status-seeking and seriously: that's just fine. We all status seek — the issue is laying off the judgment of people who are seeking a status different than yours.

That bride on some reality show gritting her teeth and fighting for the overpriced ice sculpture that has to be dyed exactly to match the bridesmaids bouquets or else she's going to pitch a fit is just seeking a different status than the eco-bride who stays up at night worrying that her plastic cups aren't going to bio-degrade for 65 years and maybe she should buy a carbon off-set for her brother's flight. We can make a judgment call about whose anxiety is more worthy, but ultimately we're all just freaking out about shit and need to be more patient with each other.

The only way to have a truly offbeat wedding is to do what you like. Because if you're keeping up or rebelling someone else's status vision, you're wasting your time and resources. Focus that energy on your partner and what your commitment looks and feels like. Rebelling for the sake of rebelling is just as pointlessly time consuming as trying to keep up with the Joneses. Save your money!

I don't mean to get all existentialist on y'all here. I don't mean for it to sound cynical. I don't think it's a bad thing to use your consumerism to support the things you care about. As Megan said when we were chatting about this post, "if you can't beat 'em join and represent your niche." Once your inner 15-year-old brat gets over the inability to ever really rebel (go ahead: stamp your feet. It helps my inner 15-year-old) your wedding is an awesome opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and be truly authentic. Not rebellious. Not keeping up with the Joneses.

Just you.

  1. I think it's a fallacy to think that just because you buy something it's inauthentic or soulless. Things mean whatever you want them to mean. It also doesn't have to be depressing to think of yourself as a consumer. I think that more and more thoughtful people are moving away from the idea that there is a "man" keeping them down, and understanding that the "system" is a complex network comprised of the actions of all individuals, who can't help but affect each other. Thus, if you want to help make the world a better place, working within the system by using consumer power to benefit ethical producers, etc, is much more effective than trying to pretend you can escape the human race.

    So yeah, basically I agree with you.

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    • Right on to the above comment. And great posting!

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  2. Thanks for posting this. It was a needed breath of fresh air!

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  3. "The only way to have a truly offbeat wedding is to do what you like."

    THANK YOU!!!!!! My fiance & I had a blowout last night b/c everything he wants for our wedding, he wants because it will make his friends and/or family happy & I keep telling him we can take the idea if making them happy makes him happy, but let's PERSONALIZE it too. This really has been my mantra for our wedding, that it doesn't matter where something we're doing comes from, as long as we're doing it because we want to & it's a reflection of us.

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  4. Thanks for the post. Offbeat Bride has been a heaven for me in someways but there have also been days when I needed to step away from it and stop obsessing. Having a lesbian, wiccan wedding is pretty "offbeat" but the desire for my family to be there and to have it be a true rite of passage is strong for me and that's meant keeping somethings that don't fit in the "I'm an offbeat rebel mode"

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  5. I'd love to post re-post this article and your take on it Ariel, but I'm pretty sure my friends (who are a mix of hippies, punks, and hipsters) would kill me. ;)

    Nevertheless, I totally agree. We all need to chillax a little more and not worry about "keeping up with the Joneses" or rebelling against them. The stress isn't worth it.

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  6. Really after reading both the blog and Ariel's response I'm really glad I've outgrown keeping up with the Jones.

    I just want to dress how I feel like dressing and have a wedding that looks like us. :D

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  7. "We all status seek — the issue is laying off the judgment of people who are seeking a status different than yours." This a million times over! I have nothing against people wanting to be different, in any situation, but it drives me insane when they then have to prove that their method of self expression is better than everyone elses. Especially because they expect me to respond in kind by 'defending' my own interests.

    Personally I love that offbeat or unconventional things I do might eventually become mainstream. I love that one of my favourite bands who were playing a handful of club gigs each year when I discovered them are now playing festivals every summer and touring all over the world. (Partially because they're Seattle based and I'm in the UK so it's a lot cheaper to go see them this way, but mostly because they're amazing and more people should hear them.)

    I'm still living in hope that brides wearing dresses in their favourite colour will become the tradition (again) because I really do think it's better that way.

    But, well there we go. I think my way is better so everyone else should do it. I seem to fall into the same traps as everyone else so it's good to see things like this every so often as a bit of grounding.

    Since I'm terrible at suming up what I want to say I'm instead going to use a quote from Sir Terry Pratchett, via the character of Miss Cheery Littlebottom (in the book The Fith Elephant).

    Miss Littlebottom lead the fight against the idea that all dwarfs are the same, that they're all male, and having finally won the acknowledgement that she was in fact female and could show it she then came out with this gem:

    "You're free to wear whatever you want, you know that."
    "Yes sir. And then I thought about [it] and…well I can wear what I like sir. That's the point. I don't have to wear that dress and I shouldn't wear it just because other people don't want me to. Besides it made me look like a rather stupid lettuce."

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    • Whee, PTerry reference! Cheery is one of my favorite characters.

      It's so true, too. There are people whose whole lives are controlled by their parents because they're so determined to do everything their parents wouldn't like. It's pretty pointless.

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  8. Last week, my fiance and I had an argument over whose job it was to call the restaurant we want to use for (sort of) catering our wedding reception. It ended like this:
    T: Are we done?
    Me: I might want to stamp my foot. [Feeble stamp of foot.] Yes, I did. I'm better now.

    Just wanted to say, that I agree with everything you've said, even the part about stamping your foot.

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  9. "The only way to have a truly offbeat wedding is to do what you like." God, Ariel – I love it when you talk plain truth! I've said it before and I'll say it again – this is yet another one of your pieces that has me screaming "yes, yes, YES!" at my computer because you get it, and then you say it so very well! Thank you for being you and, btw, I haven't heard the term "DIY Machismo" before but I'm stealing it now because it's brilliant. :)

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  10. Sure, consumers — whether they self-identify as mainstream, counter-culture, offbeat, whatever — are consumers. But the discussion to this point has suggested that it is impossible to escape "selling out". What's not been mentioned is there is an alternative: buy nothing.

    Impractical, if not impossible, and quite un-fun, you say? I'd agree. But I still think there is merit in buying less — because in my opinion there is a problem with fervent, unchecked consumerism that fills closets and landfills and is a blight both on the landscape and the soul.

    And, in my opinion, buying less is complementary to the pursuit of authentic consumerism. Because while everything you purchase may not be necessary or even useful, if you buy things only that reflect YOU, you'll be buying a lot less than the average consumer.

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    • Oh, I'm ABSOLUTELY for buying nothing — but that in itself can be a form status seeking, as per my mention of "one lowsmanship." (i.e. "You call your $2000 wedding low budget?! I did mine for only $500!" "Oh yeah? Well, I did miiiiine for $100!!" etc.) Consumerism or anti-consumerism — if you're hanging your identity on stuff/not-stuff, it's still about status.

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      • But these are two separate discussions: (1) status-seeking and (2) consumerism. And yes, the two are inextricably linked EXCEPT when status is garnered for buying less, or as you more succinctly stated it, "one lowsmanship".

        In the cited article, McRaney says, "'the system'…loves diversity" — but that is true only insofar as that diversity spawns spending. The system has no use for those who aren't buying.

        Which is why the most mainstream of bridal mags will run features on "the most original weddings ever" (MSW this month) but will never suggest you don't need something (favors/reply cards/engagement ring… can you imagine?). And dare I suggest it's difficult for any medium that relies on advertising revenues to broach this subject, even progressive websites?

        Anyways, if you're with me, I hope you'll buy a t-shirt that says so ;)

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        • Status seeking and consumerism are tightly linked ESPECIALLY when status is based on anti-consumerism. The summary here is "We use stuff to seek status, and that includes those who refuse to buy stuff." "The system" will still profit off your anti-consumerism, even if it's just, say, the NYTimes talking about the DIY wedding trend … and then selling advertising to go around that article.

          Again, I don't want to sound cynical or creepy. It's just that I've worked in media and marketing long enough to this stuff happen over and over again. I don't see it as evil, but it's critical to understand the landscape of commodification so you don't feel used by it. (Even as you ARE used by it!)

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    • I completely agree. I definitely pride myself on my purchases, but why do we have to buy so much at all? I don't think that buying as little as possible should become a "holier than thou" status to flaunt (though if it catches on, of course it will), but I am disheartened by how little attention it gets both in wedding plan and in life. The article doesn't address it at all. (The how-low-can-you-go cheap wedding approach can be just as consumerist as a big budget wedding, especially when people buy things they don't need just because they're so amazed by the bargain.)

      Wearing a dress you already have, borrowing old dishes, foregoing rings and favors, deciding against the "Treat yourself!" mantra – these acts do escape capitalism, if only for a few moments, and are often dismissed by BOTH the mainstream and the counter-culture as boring. As someone who was told I shouldn't wear a dress I've already worn a thousand times because my clothes should be "special," I'd love to see an article exploring the psychology of that. Are we so in awe of what's new in our life, even if it's from a thrift store or DIY'd with purchased materials, that it feels special? And if so, is that what essentially drives our consumerism of anything that's not food, shelter, and medicine?

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  11. I agree.

    Though sometimes the obsessive eco-bride, the girl who gets married dressed like Satan or the "fuck you and your weddings!" person *are* being true to their authentic selves. Sometimes they're not. It's hard to tell which is which, so it's better and safer to not judge someone else's spending habits. At all. Unless they are very close to you, the habit is dangerous, and you feel you have standing to talk to them about it.

    I am NOT saying that Ariel or this post or anyone here has judged anyone else for their spending habits: quite the opposite! It's just: I've heard it before in real life and online. People judging others for spending too much, people judging others for spending too little, people judging others for what they liked.

    Which of course is one of the roots of the whole problem. It's great to sit and think "I don't need to 'keep up' with anyone!" – and it is great. Until you realize that "anyone" is still trying to keep up with you, and is making snarky comments about your "taste". That hurts especially when you are using your consumer power to express things/support things you truly believe in, because a nasty judgment about what you've chosen to do is no longer about something you bought or something you like that you only like as a way of one-upping others – it's an attack on your authentic self.

    Which is sad.

    On a personal aside, it took me FOREVER to get over my "diamonds suck and people who wear them suck" bullshittery. When I went home for Christmas and realized that basically every married female relative of mine except my mom had a "sparkly", and a big one at that…and yet I love these women anyway and I know them to be truly wonderful women, not "people who suck", I know and love the husbands – my male relatives – who bought the rings, and not. a. single. one. of them was even a tiny bit judgmental about my gold-no-diamond ring did I get over myself.

    I still don't care for diamonds as a personal-taste thing, and I still think blood diamonds are abhorrent, but have managed to still feel that way and yet keep far, far away from the "I don't like them so you can't like them either" mentality.

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    • I'm seeing a very fuzzy line between status-seeking and expressing one's true values as well. Maybe the eco-obsessed bride isn't trying to seek status, but maybe she really really cares about being eco friendly! To be totally honest, though, if self-righteousness and one-up-man-ship are motivating some people to be more eco-friendly (or anti-consumerist), at least part of me is glad they are motivated at all, for whatever reasons.

      I think I operate on the subconscious assumption that "the system" profits LESS by my anti-consumerism than from my consumerism, even if it does profit from both. Maybe I'm wrong (and it's hard to measure such a huge and abstract concept), but that is my underlying assumption.

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  12. I think people really devalue their, er, value in being a consumer. As consumers, we should be the ones that have the power to change the world with our dollars. I think we underestimate our ability to influence the "evil corporations/businesses/complexes" that we despise, and we neglect to see that en mass, we can actually be and create the change we wish to see in the world. When Walmart saw that consumers wanted organic yogurt, by golly, Walmart wants our money, so they start selling organic yogurt. Just sayin', being a consumer should be powerful, not a byproduct of oppression. To what extent that is reality, I don't know. AT least, in my ideological mindbrain it could work. Thanks so much for posting this Ariel, it was nice to read this and feel affirmed. :)

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  13. I completely agree with the article. However, while I definitely pride myself on my purchases and build my status from that, I have to ask along with knitswift: Why do we have to buy so much at all? I don't think that buying as little as possible should become a "holier than thou" status to flaunt (though if it catches on, of course it will), but I am disheartened by how little attention it gets both in wedding planning and in life. It is different from the how-low-can-you-go budget wedding, which can be just as consumerist as an extravagantly expensive wedding, especially when people buy things they don't need just because they're so amazed by the bargain.

    Wearing a dress you already have, borrowing old dishes, foregoing rings and favors and gifts, drowning out the "Treat yourself!" mantra – these acts do escape capitalism, if only for a few moments, and are often dismissed by BOTH the mainstream and the counter-culture as boring. As someone who was told I shouldn't wear a dress I've already worn a thousand times because my clothes should be "special," I'd love to see an article exploring the psychology of that. Are we so in awe of what's new in our life, even if it's from a thrift store or DIY'd with purchased materials, that it feels special? And if so, is that what essentially drives our consumerism of anything that's not food, shelter, and medicine?

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  14. Considering how crazy the wedding industry has gotten, this is a pretty fantastic post. Reading the "Selling Out" post before reading this one–the only thing I could think was: "Huh. Maybe I'm missing something, but spending is a reflection of values. If you feel your self-expression is worth a certain amount, you should go for it and spend that amount." I understand that the article was trying to trump up artistic originality and integrity–but on some level everyone is an amalgam of other ideas. You have to wonder if anyone, any artistic idea, any musical composition is truly original. But then again, I think that's a good thing.

    We wouldn't have gotten planes without someone thinking, hey, let me take this thin piece of fabric, tie it to a stick and jump off a cliff with it. Wright wasn't the first guy to come up with the idea of man-made flight, and I'd say he benefited from the knowledge of others.

    Going back to the post on Offbeat, what's so wrong with an original idea created by someone contributing to an evolution of style over time? In my opinion, nothing. I think that for weddings, well, you can have one for many reasons, but a lot of the time it's a very personal event. It can be seen as a form of self-expression–and like clothing, music, art, or really anything else–individuals can be offended when they think that their individuality is being stolen, taken, or borrowed or copied by others. Maybe it's simply that no credit is given.

    As to the consumerist aspect that is ultimately at the center of this conversation, it seems to me that without some element of consumerism larger societies and economies wouldn't have been formed. Comparative advantage, Ricardo, and all that. The import of silk goes back to the Silk Road. Without the desire of a luxury good (you could say going from corn mush to wheat was pretty luxurious back in the day), it'd be hard to be where we are now. I think more of a problem arises when one can't find anything to define oneself by other than the purchase of objects. But maybe this is all a little abstracted, extrapolated, and existentialist.

    Either way, thank you for a very thought-provoking post.

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  15. So good. Especially just about the idea of "selling out." My FH occasionally slings that as an insult and I call him on it sometimes, on the snobbery of it. Sometimes he has a valid argument (an artist who stopped producing good, original, interesting art for producing salable, low-grade images and no longer growing as an artist), but generally I do have the urge to point out that becoming mainstream is not the evil thing he makes it out to be.

    It's a nice reminder to think about why we choose what we choose. Are we choosing it because everyone else does (or are we NOT choosing it because everyone else does), or is it based on our own actual preferences. My dress will be similar to dresses my mother wore in the 50s when they were mainstream. And they are becoming more mainstream again. Our ideas always come from somewhere because nobody exists in a vacuum. And our ideas always end up going out there and inspiring other people in one way or another.

    Good reminder about the actual way society functions.

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  16. I don't really have anything useful to add to the already interesting discussion, but this post is one of the reasons I like this blog so much: it's thought-provoking, interesting and produces a huge variety of opinions which make me think about things I wouldn't otherwise give thought to

    In short, OBB rocks

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  17. Right-on Cara, and Amen Ariel! The WIC exists because we, as consumers, have allowed it to exist. Same goes for factory farms and big box stores. If the majority did not support such industry with their dollars, they would disappear. We each have the right to spend our money and wield our consumer power however we authentically see fit. I prefer to buy my veggies at my local farmer's market, but I also am unashamed to frequent my local Target. Both choices are authentic to me and the reality of my life. Consumerism can (and I'd say should) be a mindful exercise as opposed to a sheep-like existence. Just as Ariel always says, it comes down to intent.

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    • Whilst I agree with most of your post I think you've missed one fundamental point. Both articles aren't saying that the WIC would disappear without consumer dollars. The opposite infact, they would continue but change to support what everyone was buying, as they already do.

      (At this point it's worth noting that indie stores and organic free range farms are all industries as well, frequently part of exactly the same industries as their bigger rivals, just like Ariel is part of the same industry as mainstream wedding magazines.)

      Even if this meant a big change it would still be the WIC. Say for example if everyone started making their own wedding drresses instead of buying them, you wouldn't see all the shops and advertising related to dresses dissapear, instead it would shift to sales and adverts for fabrics, patterns, accessories ect. Same industry, slightly different products.

      It's never going to be feasible for everyone to make everything they need from scratch (by which I mean growing your own cotton from wild collected seeds to make the fabric to make your clothes kind of thing) so everyone is always going to be buying something and as long as that happens there is always going to be an industry to support that.

      But that is not a bad thing. If anything it's good because it allows us to get the things we want or need without having to make them from scratch.

      It's only a problem when you feel like you have to buy things, or buy specific things based on other peoples expectations. (Whether you're fufilling those expectations or going against them.)

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  18. This is why I love OBB so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!

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  19. I don't have much to add to the already interesting discussion, other to say that this came at the perfect time for me.

    As I get older, I'm outgrowing, as another commenter said, this "holier-than-thou"-ness in whatever form it takes. ("I spent leesss," vs. "I spent moooore," etc., bleh).

    This is one reason why I think it *might* be better to wait until you're older to get married, you have more maturity and you "know yourself" better than you did in your teens and 20s, but there I go inserting my opinion again. :-P This IS hard….

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  20. On an offbeat mama note, you see the same thing with baby names these days. You can find statistics on how the variety of baby names has blossomed. Everyone trying to out-class and out-unique each other, because ZOMG what if my kid goes to school and there's another kid in class with the same name! Or, ahem, 5 middle names or "Danger" as a middle name. Just sayin, no matter how hipster you are, in trying to NOT be the same as everyone else, you're in fact being the same as everyone else. Meh, get over it, and get back to enjoying the things you enjoy.

    On a wedding note, I love how it's possible to find colored wedding dresses from certain traditional designers. Some of us want a poofy gown, but not white/ivory/eggshell, and designers are starting to repond to that demand. Dare I say it here, but capitalism is beautiful :)

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  21. I think this came at a great time for me. Now I need to assess how much of my wedding is authentic and how much of it is me flipping the bird to my FH's family and their so-mainstream-it-hurts way of doing things. Not that I have a problem with their mainstream-ness. But they have an issue with my "meh, I do it my way, and it's probably not the same way everyone else does it" attitude and have been downright rude about it, so at this point I think I need to make sure I'm not rubbing their faces in my love of things that are unexpected.

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  22. very interesting post, thanks for sharing. What I notice about all the offbeat bride weddings is that the primary importance of the wedding is the couple, their love for each other and how they are showing that love and sharing it with their guests, and that is why I love this blog so much. Even if it is a cookie cutter wedding, its always about the love first!

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  23. this article is a great reminder of our need to be cognizant. I had never thought of my wedding as a way for me to seek status, but I love to brag about certain aspects of our wedding, and what is bragging but trying to increase my status among peers. I have a blog which in the beginning was to allow family to be as involved (or not involved) as they chose. I posted only things I was certain of. I wasn't involving family; I was telling everyone how awesome and original my wedding was going to be.

    why do I care so much? people's opinions of this one day of my life will not affect the outcome of my marriage. an overdone idea does not bring divorce. overall cognizance could I think prevent it.

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  24. Thanks for this! My husband and I planned our wedding for under $4,000 total. Here's a tip, if you or your husband are paying off student loans and or need to take out a loan to pay for the wedding, your wedding should be scaled down. Don't add the stress of paying off a huge wedding!

    Keep it simple!

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  25. Thank you Ariel for saying this so well. When you featured my wedding recently, I stated the whole idea of not trying so hard to be different–just to be different. Sometimes I feel like there exists some unstated contest out there to see who can have the most outlandish wedding in the land. And I truly wonder if these weddings really capture the true essence of the participants or if they are stomping their feet like rebellious tots. Rebelling against what? Just because you don't want an all white church florist caterer wedding doesn't mean you have to go to the opposite extreme either. I mean, you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And besides, if you are still stamping your foot and full of such childish rebellion, are you really ready to be married anyway?

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  26. "Focus that energy on your partner and what your commitment looks and feels like."

    I really like that part. Me and my hunky monkey have been together for 7 years (finally gettin' hitched) and we are so awesomely in love that we're pretty sure we're the ones they based Princess Bride on, cause this shit don't happen everyday (paraphrasing there). I bought my dress from DB, but fuck it, I'm never a princess and I wanted to be. Yeah, I picked that dress in particular b/c it was on sale and I'm poor, but if I had buttloads of cash, don't think I wouldn't have rocked something recockulous. Just go with what you want (without murdering you chance of ever owning a home or getting out of debt or whatever you financial goals may be). Let's face it, I know that it's kinda fucked up to say on a wedding website, but the REALLY important thing is how you live the rest of your lives together, not what you bought to commemorate that commitment.

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  27. Reading this article I couldn't help but think about No Imapct Man in New York. I wonder what the author would think of his brand of rebellion, in which he buys very, very little. Only what is truly needed. When something breaks, he repairs it. If it can't be repaired, he buys used. He does this not to rebel, but to avoid new resources being taken out of the earth, and to keep old resources from going into the landfill. While he does make a contribution, it is significantly smaller, and a lot more meaningful.
    Also, I wonder what the author would think of the Transition movement, which strives to get people producing their own foods and goods again, so much as they can with the resources available to them. Of course, there's certainly competition amongst us urban homesteaders in Denver. I don't own chickens (let alone goats) and it's just killing me inside!!!
    I agree with the author on a lot of this though. I get irritated with hipster types (and anti hipster types) often because I feel like the vast majority of them are just into the fashion, not any meaning associated with it. While I look at myself and see someone who's not nearly as hip as I used to be before having a baby, but at least there's some depth and meaning to the things I do.
    Sure, we're all still consumers, but there's a big difference between buying your counter culture clothes at Hot Topic, and taking in your jeans when you lose weight instead of buying new, on your twenty year old sewing machine with thread you picked up on Freecycle. Sure, when those jeans were new, I bought them from Lane Bryant, but I'm making those suckers last! Despite the fact that everything in our economy is purposely built to wear out as quickly as possible, in order to trick us into buying more and consuming more.
    Okay, I'm going to stop before I go off on a new tangent.

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    • "but there's a big difference between buying your counter culture clothes at Hot Topic, and taking in your jeans when you lose weight instead of buying new, on your twenty year old sewing machine with thread you picked up on Freecycle."

      Yes!!! That's what I felt was missing from the selling out article. It only seemed to apply to people who "rebel" by buying "punk rocker" clothes from a store that's probably sub-owned by the GAP or whatever. To me, though, it really does seem like you can opt out of the system more than this article suggests, if you just buy less and buy used!!!

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  28. "Rebelling for the sake of rebelling is just as pointlessly time consuming as trying to keep up with the Joneses. "

    WOW I needed to read that! Thing is I've been anti-whatever-my-mother-is (which is mostly what 'everyone else' is) for as long as I can remember. But when I'm truly happy I'm just doing whatever I want to do–not just because it might drive my mother crazy but because I REALLY TRULY LIKE IT.
    I think I'm gonna put this quote on the front of my 'wedding notepad'….or on my wall ;)

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  29. From the post: To be clear, I don't see consumer as a bad word. Everyone's doing it. You just have to be clear on your consumer values, and stick to them. Maybe it's that you'll only buy from indie vendors on Etsy. Maybe it's that you want the cheapest deal so you can save up for your Master's Degree. Maybe for you it's that you'll only pay your friends. Whatever: consuming isn't bad. Mindless consumption is the enemy here.

    Great point. When the majority stop consuming at all, the majority of us go to bed very very hungry. A rampant economy of shit-we-don't-need(or really even want) is definitely worthy of escape. But for those of us who do not own land to live off us, the trade of goods/services/money is kind of what makes our world go round.

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  30. I never would have thought that planning a wedding (which for many years I insisted I would never have) would lead me to so many thought-provoking discussions by a lot of intelligent women. I'm just going to say thank you and think about the posts!

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  31. Riiiight? I'm too old and too tired to be anti-anti-anti. But also, I'm not going let anyone make me feel like my wedding won't be RAD if I don't spend more than I can afford. If you've escaped globalism, you didn't read this anyway so… >:P

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  32. So true.

    Though I've seen with my own eyes the "one-lowmanship" in the article: a "holier than thou" attitude to how little people spent / wanted to spend / are planning to spend / would like to spend on their weddings. It's not the norm, but does happen.

    1 agrees

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