Granted, I spend maybe 90% less time doing it than I used to, and I don’t actually buy the stuff, but I still do it. When I’m wading my way through a huge commercial copy brief then it’s a guarantee that I will click off the document and either onto Twitter or onto a page full of nice dresses that, somewhere deep down in my soul, I still reckon might make my life better. I KNOW on an intellectual level that they won’t but it’s so embedded that I think there’s a cluster of cells or nerves in my brain that are there solely to convert a static image of a garment on a screen into a mirage of a successful, happy life that can only be obtained by clicking add to basket.
My current go-to for window shopping is Kitri, but Net-a-Porter, Beaumont Organic, Mara Hoffman, Kowtow and a slew of others all qualify as great ways to throw my limited time into the void. When I see something I like, I go back and visit it a few times, picture us speaking at big events, or pretending to be natural while we’re photographed in our airy, tastefully decorated home, you know, very normal shit. I am very normal, thank you. And after that, I move on.
But the garment doesn’t. It follows me around, begging me to come back, trying to reignite the flame. I’m just trying to get on with my life and yet there it is, in my Instagram feed, demanding I reconsider. Reporting the ad seems too harsh – I mean, we could have had a life together – so I tap hide ad instead. That will send the message without being too cruel, I think. I get it, it’s hard to move on, but now it’s over.
Is it fuck, though. I have a quick scroll on Twitter to reward my self for a solid few hours’ (minutes’) work. Trump said something stupid and dangerous, men are splitting blood because there’s a female lead in a film, someone said something quite ordinary but they type in a Scottish accent so it’s funny, a beloved male star is trending and I daren’t find out why (but I know why), someone much younger than me has got a book deal, Brexit, Meghan Markle, and is that… yeah. It’s the dress. Just in amongst all of the other digital detritus. It’s masked as any other tweet but obviously it’s paid to be there. Bit desperate. I feel embarrassed for it. But it’s the same when I head over to Facebook to see what the over 40s and the racists are up to. Totally brazen. Just getting in my face when I thought I’d made it clear. Accept it mate, I’ve made a choice.
Back to work. Don’t really have time to deal with this right now. I click on my email tab to see if any editors have put me out of my misery. Oh shit, it’s actually contacted me directly now. It’s not like I can pretend I just didn’t see it. Come back! Was it something I said? I’m still waiting for you! it shouts at me.
It’s just a bit weird, wouldn’t you agree? Like obviously our paths will cross at some point, but actually emailing me? It’s just quite full on.
And this plays out again and again and again. When did brands become so needy? I don’t want to be emailed by a dress or accosted by a four pack of organic cotton knickers every time I go on Instagram. It makes me infinitely less likely to buy something. Rather than regretting leaving such a gem behind, I feel intruded upon. I don’t want to feel like a brand has been watching me. I already stress about feeling like I’m past the point of no return in terms of who has access to my information, so I’m very much not into being stalked around the internet by a dress.
Essentially, brands have become that creep who doesn’t give up. They think that if they just keep going, keep getting in touch, that you’ll eventually break and realise you have indeed been in love with them (or the dresses they’re hawking) this whole time. I don’t need it, so I’m just going to take some time to focus on myself right now. It’s not me, it’s you. Don’t text again, OK?
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