By Viola Zhou
In a studying abroad briefing session at Baylor, I heard this from a female student who went to Japan this summer.
“Tokyo is the best place for shopping,” she said. “You will love it, girls.”
Of course it was not the first time I came across this kind of promotion, but I still felt a bit awkward. Compared to shopping malls, foods, natural sceneries and local customs of a place intrigue me more. I’m female but I don’t like shopping as much as I should.
By saying should, I mean women portrayed in dramas, magazines and commercials. In “Friends,” my favorite sitcom, Monica lost her mind when she saw beautiful boots. Rachel and Phoebe had to help Ross buy clothes because guys were just too bad at shopping. Also in TV advertisements, it is always women who stand behind supermarket carts and get excited when things go on sale. Is this image really what women are and what girls should be?
This stereotype has been around for very long. Nowadays, most people still hold the belief that shopping is a girl thing and all girls like shopping. Neither way is true.
It’s probably a fact that most women enjoy shopping. But it’s another fact that in this consumer society, most humans like buying things, only in different ways. A recent BI Intelligence report indicates that men are more likely to shop on mobile devices. Twenty-two percent of U.S. men made a purchase on their smartphones in 2013, compared to 18 percent of women. Among teenagers, a higher percentage of males said they shop at websites like Amazon and eBay than females.
In addition to the difference in shopping patterns, another reason you see more women than men in the store is their caregiving role in the family. More women than men are given the responsibility to take care of other family members. Therefore, managing the budget, going to the grocery store and getting what the whole family needs are their daily jobs. Not every mom loves to shop, but every mom has to.
I’m worried that the stereotypical image is reinforcing itself by influencing young women. Many girls see the enthusiasm for shopping as a natural and even indispensable attribute of females. They believe fashion and nice appearance always go together with a love for shopping. Under peer pressure, the minority are sometimes too ashamed to say they actually don’t want to go the mall.
Girls don’t need to be crazy about shopping to be a confident and nice-looking woman. For some women, including me, shopping is just one small part of daily life. When we need clothes and makeup, we go to buy some, the same way as when we need medicine we go to the pharmacy. We don’t hate it, but we don’t love it. There are just too many things in life that are more enjoyable than shopping.
Viola Zhou is an exchange student and journalism major from Hangzhou, China. She is a reporter for the Lariat.