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Poor in a Consumerist World

The conveyor belt of consumption

In today's modern society, there seems to be a new fashion trend or popular product each month. There was a time in society when it was commonplace to purchase products based on the need for them, a winter coat for example was to last you until the padding was worn out.

However, the younger generation of 2022 often have a new winter coat each year depending on what the newest trend is and what their favourite influencer is wearing. This point, of course, extends much further than coats and can be seen in so many walks of life; fashion, gaming and food to name a few. This constant changing of trends promotes a consumerist society amongst people on social media as people feel the pressure to keep up with what is popular, so much so that a modern-day problem in schools is people being bullied for not being up to date on what coats and shoes are cool. A lot of parents wonder why their children spend their days with their heads 'buried in their phones', but it is clear to see that a lot of these children fear that putting their phones down would mean they would fall behind with the current trends.

FOMO - The fear of missing out

A modern-day phenomenon is a fear of missing out. So many people in society deal with this fear, no matter of age or generation. However, it has become common to hear the term used by the social media generation of the present day. The constant changing of trends in our world means that people will always feel the fear of missing out on one of them, this promotes people to constantly buy more and more products. One week everyone is rushing to buy a white tennis skirt and by the next week, they are again rushing to now buy patchwork jeans. All of this begs the question, does constant consumption of products promote FOMO? Or does FOMO promote the constant consumption? One thing that unfortunately often flies below the radar in today's consumerist society is those who can't afford to keep up to date with the trends.

Money, money, money - It's a rich man's world

In 2016, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the National Children's Bureau researched the affect living in poverty had on a child's relationships. The research found that children living in poverty are less likely to form friendships and more likely to deal with solidarity throughout the school. Of course, multiple factors play into this statistic, However, one factor that is becoming increasingly more impactful is the lack of ability to fit into a consumerist society. Children, especially those aged 12-18 are likely to discuss the purchasing of new products and even plan days out in order to go and buy new products. Part of the reasoning for this is that children no longer go outside in their old dirty clothes to 'play out', but instead find consuming and spending money to be more fun and treat it as a pass time, it doesn't need to be explained why that can be unhealthy. Especially with the recent rise of retail addiction.

Not the only environment we should worry about

Of course it is of grave importance for the current generation to take care of the environment and eco-system. But, school environments are just as toxic and corrosive as a result of consumerism. So, what can be done? Well, it is less likely in 2022 to find a school who often host 'own clothes days' this is because of the rise in bullying due to young children not having the clothes to wear that are popular and fashionable. Another solution that has proven to be affective was seen in a Liverpool school - Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School, where the headteacher has implemented a rule where students are not allowed to wear high-end fashion coats to school, but, instead all students of different financial backgrounds can only wear the branded school coat provided to them. The downside to this, of course, is that some students may feel they have their originality taken away from them, however, it also means fewer students stand out for their lack of whatever product is most desired at the time.

Something to take away

To conclude, in a time where our society is more focused on the negative affects consumerism has on our environment, there seems to be a certain issue that is overlooked. That issue being that people who live and grow up in poverty are struggling to fit into certain aspects of society and are in some cases purposefully outcast due to them not having the financial ability to keep up with the constant trends that comes hand in hand with consumerism.


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