Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mindfulness at the Mall

On Monday night I accomplished an almost heroic feat of willpower:  I spent almost 2 hours in a shopping mall and didn't buy a single thing! All the more impressive since it's the big sales time in France, so faced with up to 70% off all sorts of stuff, the temptation was strong.

Strangely enough, France only allows shops to use the word 'sale' twice a year for clearly-defined periods in winter and in summer.  The exact dates of the sales are dictated for each region, as are the sale conditions and possible discounts offered (so that stores don't artificially inflate their prices before cutting them, for example).  The rest of the year shopkeepers can't have what they call sales for fear of being fined.  Seems a bit heavy-handed from an American free-market perspective,  but the intention is actually to protect small businesses (even more than the consumer).   What it means in practice is that the French go wild during the sales, swarming every possible shopping area in impressive numbers.  Going to the mall during this time therefore becomes a particularly courageous endeavor if you're as semi-claustrophobic and generally anti-mall as I am.

Luckily Monday evening does not seem to be the busiest shopping time, because I had a very important project:  to figure out how to cover my ever-growing belly.  I think I've been in denial about needing maternity clothes until now, but I have to face the fact that as my waistline expands, so must my wardrobe.  The mall expedition was actually more of a reconnaissance mission; to see what's available, check out the prices, and mostly figure out what my pregnant size is.  In fact, I went to the mall with the explicit intention of not buying anything, because my goal throughout this pregnancy is to spend as little money as possible (as part of my efforts at mindful consumption).  And it just seems particularly wasteful to buy something brand-new that I'll only wear for a few months.

In parallel, I've also started following a blog in which readers were given a challenge to shop only second-hand for the month (see bonzai aphrodite).  I already do this for almost all my clothes, but it was helpful to have the extra incentive of the blog project to keep from being tempted by prices so low that you buy stuff just because it's too cheap to resist.  It was surprisingly difficult to pass up those bargains, and at a different point in my life I would have exited the mall with my arms full of 'great deals!'.   So I had to use all of my mindfulness skills to remind myself of my commitment to shop second-hand.   I also I had little mantras of sorts that I kept repeating to myself :  "I don't need this...I'm not buying anything...I will not spend any money...," etc.

When I eventually left the mall empty-handed, I felt victorious - like crossing the finish line of a long and arduous race. I felt very proud of myself, and also relieved.  Now I know that I'm not missing anything much, since most of the clothes were horrendous.  And I tried on enough stuff to have a sense of my maternity size in a few different brands.   My plan now is to comb the thrift shops, and tomorrow I'm even going to try on some maternity clothes that someone advertised online through a local re-selling site.

If any of you have other ideas on dressing throughout pregnancy, would love to hear them!


DQ's Windmill said...

Congratulations on your great feat of willpower! And also on the pregnancy:) When I was pregnat - and that was 20 years ago - I was going through my middle-eastern phase, so I would wear comfy galabeyas (djellabas) all the time, and would even go to the store in them. My grandma would have just called it a mumu, lol.

Diana said...

Thanks Donna! I remember mumu's - my grandma used to wear those all the time in the summer. Sounds heavenly, though I don't think I could get away with that at work - I'm already so not chic compared to French women as it is! But could be a great option once I'm on maternity leave and don't have to look professional anymore! :)

DQ's Windmill said...

haha, yes, I understand! I often feel like a schlepper next to French women - I find myself making a bit of an extra effort when I go to Paris!