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We Know Our Worth: Why It’s More Expensive to Be a Woman

Ann Joy 6 months ago - in Lifestyle, Money

My friend loves this joke: “It is so much easier to be a man. You just open your closet, and whatever falls out of it – you put that on.” Another friend says: “It’s easy to be a woman, too – if you have short hair, you need to grow it, while long hair must be cut, curly hair must be straightened, and straight hair has to be curled.” So is it just the way women perceive their beauty that makes being female quite expensive, or is there something else?

When I start thinking about it, my mind seems to get hold of these elusive and controversial “something else” factors, such as being more emotional about our purchases and attributing more meaning to whatever we buy. Then, there’s also variety. It’s not like men don’t appreciate variety, or have a choice of what to wear, but mostly for practical reasons and convenience – such as being able to replace a certain item quickly when needed.

Women love variety for esthetic and creative reasons. Shopping and beauty rituals may also be a sort of anti-stress therapy, and feel like a well-deserved reward or treat in our routinely and stressful life. Still, as owning, buying and paying more don’t necessarily make us happy, we might also look for reasonable ways to spend less, especially because it’s not just money we’re spending, it’s time too.

Clothes: overstuffed closet + nothing to wear

This paradox may be called pure nonsense by most men – but it’s a realistic phenomenon. Who hasn’t chuckled at remembering themselves or their friends in a similar situation at least once – and some of them were men, too! While being considered a typically female thing, the overstuffed closet is a unisex problem, making many people buy more and more clothes while failing to put those they already own into good use.

A cluttered closet with doors nearly bursting off their hinges doesn’t imply literally having nothing to wear, but rather nothing suitable for wearing at the moment you need to make a choice. Finding something becomes complicated, and the exact thing you wanted to wear (or the one that would nicely match another item of your choice) usually isn’t in a proper condition – creased and crumpled, or fallen off its hanger, requiring ironing while you don’t have time. That’s why some clothes are worn often, while some may be trapped for years in that tangled jungle at the back of your closet.

How to spend less on this:

Getting rid of what you rarely wear is the first thing that comes to mind, but it isn’t a cure-all many of us believe it can be. To many, regular closet cleanouts are followed by purchasing twice as much, and making spontaneous or emotional choices again that only add to the category of “hardly wearable” – due to the quality of an item, its irrelevance to a certain lifestyle or seasonal weather conditions, its style or color being difficult to match. So, the overstuffed closet story is to be continued…

That tricky line between “enough” and “too much” – the more clothes you think you can afford, the more blurred it seems. If figuring out how far “enough” can be stretched is too difficult, question the “afford” part instead that is more than just the money or a credit card to pay with. The Time factor is as important as the Money factor: will you have enough time to take proper care of all the clothes you already own, including those you are planning to buy? If the answer is “no”, or a subtler version of “no”, such as “maybe”, “not sure”, “it depends”, buying more isn’t exactly affordable. Money is a variable, but time and storage space are usually the constants. So it’s wiser to rely on these constants helping you to realize that you won’t wear some things often while they will take away your time, space and comfort on a regular basis.

Read also – How to Break the Habit of Buying Clothes You Never Wear

Shoes and handbags: the matching game

While everybody has to learn the basics of matching clothes, footwear and accessories, few men try to play this matching game by the strictest rules like women do. That’s why some women have lots of shoes, handbags and other accessories. These are very fun to have in a variety of colors, designs and patterns, but it’s great only if your time and storage space permit proper organizing, and carefully selecting these when putting an outfit together. If not, it’s an investment into more closet clutter that makes you happy only for a brief moment of purchasing or wearing something just once, and then starts stressing you out.

The not-so-fun thing is, when switching different handbags, something you need occasionally ends up resting in another bag. Another not-so-fun thing is, finding really comfy shoes isn’t as easy as finding fancy-looking ones, while in the context of some weather conditions or surfaces you need to walk on, “great-looking” will seem quite ridiculous to top your list of selection criteria. Too bad that realizing this usually comes through many painful experiences.

How to spend less on this:

Chasing the fast-paced fashion trends may leave you broke and with blistery feet. That’s when you are likely to understand that the best pair of shoes you own is the one you can wear even with blistery feet. To avoid more painful experiences, consider comfort and quality of materials before letting yourself get carried away by anything else – color, stylish details or the magic word “sale”. Buying shoes and handbags in solid neutral colors can save you a lot of time and hassle, as they match almost anything. If you crave originality, opt for handmade items that are always unique regardless of the fashion.

Beautification obsession

While men may be happy with a strictly minimalist interior, women seldom are. They love decorating their living space, adding a unique personality and details to it – that’s part of the magic that turns a house or an apartment into a home. However, too many decorative objects can make a room look like someone’s overstuffed closet, or even give you a feeling of walking into and living inside one.

Just as you can’t make soup without water, you can’t create a nice display or interior without enough space around pieces of furniture or other objects. Many things that rob you of this space and your essential comfort aren’t even the ones you need, use regularly or enjoy. People tend to keep or buy them just in case – whether really imagining some worst case scenarios, or simply assuming they might need, try or wear something…sometime…

How to overcome this obsession:

Life is all about change – not just accepting change, but also introducing it on your own. Some of it can be predicted, planned and even scheduled. When it comes to changes and events that can’t be predicted, it is better to face them with a certain sum of money set aside than with a basement full of things that don’t exactly fit your changing needs.

Unless you are moving into a bigger house (though even a big space can get overcrowded with things), if you wish to add something to what you already own, you will probably have to subtract (or remove) something. This is related to the already mentioned space and time needed to take good care of your belongings. It may sound boring, but if you’re not happy (or very reluctant) about removing something, you’re not very likely to be happy with the new items you buy. Perhaps you have heard this before, but it often takes accumulating a great amount of clutter to understand why this has been made into a rule.

Read also – 4 Lessons to Learn from the Minimalists

Beauty: delight or duty?

Once upon a time, beauty standards and products used to serve for distinguishing the noble or rich from the poor, but they don’t anymore. Nowadays, things such as perfume, hair colorants, makeup, creams and lotions are abundant and affordable, but beauty standards and products can make you poor and you may end up looking like a clown. Unfortunately, all sorts of such results are advertised everywhere, but it’s worth keeping in mind that those glossy representations are far from what clothes, makeup, our bodies and skin actually look like.

How to spend less on this

In order not to get disillusioned, don’t get illusioned. Of course, you can always question the glossy adverts, do a little research or consult some experts to learn more about the possibility or risks of certain results. But that would spoil all the fun (I personally love looking at beautiful photos and dreaming myself something a little bit like this), so I suggest a different approach. Search and ask for the kind of advice that will help you to discover your natural beauty and make the best out of it, instead of focusing on what it can be replaced with. Search for ways to look great while spending less time and money on beauty rituals and matching games. Use that time and money elsewhere – for example think of activities, events or places you could enjoy with your family or friends.

It’s awesome to be a woman, but we set too high standards and too hard goals that prevent us from living a real life instead of being obsessed with things that don’t make us happy. Do you think it’s more expensive to be a woman than a man?