I have a routine of window shopping online, putting things into my basket, getting to the check out and then closing my browser window.  There are times when I go through with my purchase, packages from online orders arrive at my home, I open them up, and there are nicely wrapped clothing items inside – items that I’ve seen beautiful women wearing online and on Instagram.

Next I usually take off whatever I have on and I slip into each item.  I examine myself in the mirror, I look at how my body does or does not fill out the piece the way I imagined it would.  I feel the fabric and decide whether or not the photo I saw of someone wearing the same piece made the item look softer or higher quality than it actually is.  Sometimes, I love the item I purchased, but at least half of the time, I’m disappointed. Why am I disappointed?  Why are clothes making me feel this way?  The act of following women, beautiful, cool women who are stylish and effortlessly chic is something I love to do.  I love women, all women, they’re pure art.  There are specific women who own independent shops in the United States who have Instagram profiles with picture perfect lives and the wardrobe to match – these women have managed to peak and hold my interest for years. Women who live in different cities, with different temperatures and careers, but somehow convince me to purchase the same clothing they’re wearing – but each time the clothing arrives – I try them on, wear them out in Toronto, and I question myself. A few days ago I was on a website called Ascot and Hart – for those of you who don’t know this website, it is a really cool American independent founded by a Los Angeles citizen and a Texan.  Laura and Jen sell clothes that fit their personal style, clothing that they have made into a brand and that they proudly wear themselves. –  I was on Ascot and Hart and immediately put two items into my basket, a sweater and jeans that Laura had paired together and was rocking the look online.  I went all the way to the check out and stopped.I viewed the items, I viewed the prices-in American dollars- I went back and carefully examined Laura-her build-her shape-the length of her hair-the way she stands and then I closed the browser window.
I’m not Laura, and I’m not going to look like Laura after spending $245 Canadian dollars on the outfit she is wearing. Why would I spend that money on clothes?  Especially on clothing I haven’t even tried.  Why wouldn’t I shop local?  Somewhere in my own neighbourhood, somewhere that I can feel the fabric, I can try the item on, I can look at myself and say “this feels like me!”  An item that can keep me warm and stylish through the Canadian winter, and that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars due to the crazy exchange rate!   Part of an enjoyable shopping experience for me is being able to find and purchase an outfit or a piece that speaks to my own identity.  A garment that makes me feel pretty, sexy, or cool. Part of the reason I shop is so that when I leave my apartment I feel like me-not some stranger who I think is cool on the internet.   Every woman I find interesting and cool has her own style and identity – I’m drawn to that.  But as it turns out, I now understand that I have been mistaking shell coverings for the reason these women had caught my eye and held my attention – I now realize it goes deeper.   All women have an energy, a soul, a level of confidence, a life they have built for themselves to be proud of and to love. These particular women have put their lives into tiny little squares called Instagram, giving people like me a peak into their seemingly picture perfect life.  But that’s their life, those clothes speak to their personal style and identity.  I caught myself staring and realized it was time to look away and look at my own reflection instead. These women are independents and that is what I need in my own life, and in my own Instagram squares.   I will take time to examine my own shell, feel my own energy and nourish my own soul.   I won’t be like them, I will always be me.

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