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Mastering The Art Of Comparing Ourselves To Others

Content Warning: This article discusses topics of mental health which could be distressing to some readers.

Let's get personal

Let's talk about mental health, the subject we so frequently avoid in all areas of our lives: the workplace, at home or even with our best friends. I am sure many others can relate: when I look good, I feel good. Feeling confident in what I am wearing makes me feel like I can take on the world. However, this is not always that easy as I am guilty of always comparing myself to others which then in effect makes me think less of myself. But for what reason, as I know it is both unproductive and self-destructive, so why do I do this?

I find I only ever compare myself to those with who I share somewhat common ground, for example, people of the same gender or similar age to myself. To my surprise, this concept has been explored by social psychologist Festinger who founded that our tendency to compare ourselves to others increases as the differences between yourself and the other person decrease. There is no limit to the comparisons I make, fashion is just one of many. I find myself wanting to look like other women, owning their clothes, shoes and handbags and wanting a life so unlike my own. I blame social media.

The impact of social media

Without even meaning to I find myself envying the life of an Instagram influencer; with their endless array of up-to-date fashion and designer goods it can at times almost make me feel inferior. I take a look in my wardrobe and I don't see what the likes of Mollymae or Jess Hunt are wearing. I see an attempt of keeping somewhat up to date, however not quite.

I always thought I was content with my life and my wardrobe yet after a short while on social media I have the urge to have a huge clear out and starting again. It is such a hopeless feeling knowing that there is always going to be somebody who looks better than you, whether that will be someone I walk past in the street, someone on Instagram or even one of my own friends.

Social media, most notably Instagram is where I would say I make the most of my comparisons. I scroll past endless posts of 'perfect' women dressed head to toe in designer clothing and the latest trends whilst I wear t-shirts and hoodies that I have owned for a lifetime. As soon as I take an interest in one trend, another one surfaces making it impossible for me to keep up with the latest trends.

I can't wear a pair of skinny jeans now without being made to feel like I'm back in 2015, today it's mom jeans and then the next it's straight leg jeans. I cannot win. Fashion used to be fun but now I find myself never feeling or looking good enough.

Do more clothes equal more happiness?

Fast fashion has become too fast. With the likes of PLT, Shein, and many more, it has become easier than ever to get your hands on the latest trends. We as consumers have 24-hour access to these stores and the thousands of products they offer for such low prices.

On Black Friday in November of last year, PLT boasted a 99% off sale with dresses selling for as little as £0.08. It was said that somebody had made an order of 56 items for just £29. But will this kind of compulsive shopping and the constant expansion of our wardrobes make us genuinely happier?

I do not for one second believe I am alone in how I feel, I think that we all thrive off the instant pleasure retail therapy provides us. Research suggests the dopamine that is released when shopping is similar to the rush that comes with drinking or gambling (minus the hangover).

Whilst it is so incredibly important to prioritise our mental health and do things that make us happy, we also have to consider the harsh reality of fast fashion and come to realise that although it may make us happy for a short while, constantly pursuing new trends is causing more harm than good. So let's all make the conscious effort to buy less, normalise wearing things more than once, stop comparing ourselves to others, focus on our mental health and really discover what it is that makes us truly happy.


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