I Want to Stop Wanting
Why are we still interviewing privileged white women about the inaccessible material products they love? Why are we still calling them honorable when they quit their well-paying jobs to become “The Wellness Entrepreneur Who Works In Bare Feet.”
There are plenty of other women who need the platform.
Truthfully, I don’t care if someone chooses to walk away from their “stressful office job” at a highly regarded corporation to lead a more mindful life, endeavoring to profit off spirituality, but let’s not casually label the act as “brave.” It’s extremely lucky. It’s the definition of privilege.
Let’s not be mistaken, anyone who has the ability to leave a stable job to pursue a passion project is fortunate –– whether by hard work, circumstance, or both. All the power to them! Obviously, I’m jealous as all hell. I’d love to be able to quit being a full-time employee to make a career out of breathing better, and then have a high profile publication interview me about my expensive taste, while casually hanging out barefooted with a flawless dewy face in $120 leggings.
I know no one’s life is perfect, but this interview is all I have to go on, and her life seems pretty damn dreamy. It’s the image she wants to project. It’s the image we’re all supposed to want. And it’s working.
Jen Tarif, the subject of the interview on The Cut, spends her day teaching at Sky Ting Yoga and running her own wellness start-up, 3rd Ritual. “Combining Taoist, yogic, and design philosophies, 3rd ritual hosts workshops on everything from painting to aromatherapy. The company also recently introduced its first product, Bel, a meditation candle.”
The article is part of a larger series, In Her Shoes (GREAT MOVIE THO), that explores how women dress for their work. To be totally fair to the initiative, they’ve featured some truly inspiring, badass (somewhat diverse) women with cool jobs and even cooler looks. No hate on focusing on a successful woman’s choices regarding physical appearance.
Substance is only made better with style, not worse (IMO). 💁🏻♀️
It’s not that I find Tarif uninspiring as a businesswoman; she is objectively impressive. It’s just that for her “decidedly un-corporate work life” look she chose to highlight things like $165 perfume, $1,000 boots, and a laundry list of clothing brands I drool over but could never afford –– and I am also a privileged white person! And, it just feels a little icky and disingenuous to pair all this extreme wealth and capitalism with an effort to achieve higher consciousness.
It feels like a big old mug of out of touch golden turmeric milk. Sorry, who the fuck has time to “always try to carve out a few moments of stillness and check in throughout the day on my posture, breath, and mood?” What am I supposed to take away from this?
Envy? Dissatisfaction? Inadequacy?
I don’t think that was the intention of the interview, but that’s where it left me. Not unlike the other night, when I stopped by Anthropologie and decided I hate everything in my apartment. I got angry that I couldn’t afford to toss all my furniture and memory-ridden tchotchkes and fill the empty space with pale pink, clean lines, and lush velvet, that I bought a $100 shirt out spite instead. (Spoiler Alert: It’s probably going back.)
It’s how I felt this weekend when I took the free sample of $475 La Mer hand cream at Sephora, to which having daily access is currently the only advantage I see to living in those weird apartments at the mall near me. I mean, my hands looked noticeably younger…I think? I definitely want to have it!
I could and would (I hope) never actually waste my money on all this shit, no matter how big my salary gets, so all this does is make me WANT. It makes me think I should want things I certainly don’t need. It makes me keep twenty internet browser tabs open, full of online shopping carts with unaffordable shoes, clothes, tinctures, masks, housewares, and god knows what else for days until I either cave on an item or have a moment of true spiritual awakening (that costs me zero dollars) and buy nothing at all in a zen-like state.
Then, I feel bad for all the wanting.
Over time, I feel like a failure about not being able to afford the unattainable things I want. I feel bad about the frivolity and the materialism and the capitalism. I feel bad that I could be better about saving for a house, retirement, and even travel. I feel bad that I’m not giving all my hard-earned money to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
It’s because of store displays, influencers, Instagram posts, retargeting advertising, and yes, even articles like these that put inane wealth on an untouchable pedestal. There’s a constant carrot being dangled in front of our faces and wallets.
Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with liking nice stuff, filling your life with material things that genuinely bring you joy (Marie Kondo says so!), caring about how you look or expressing your personality through a unique style –– especially in the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with working really hard to have these luxuries, and there’s nothing wrong with reading about how other successful women do it looking fly as hell. We live in the age of crowd-sourced decision making and I want all their secrets!
I just want us, them, everyone to be focusing on the right things and the right people so we can all learn to try to want more of the important things, or at least the real things, and try not to want the bullshit.