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US shopaholics – The devil really does wear Prada

Published time: December 29, 2010 16:25
Edited time: December 30, 2010 19:10

America loves shopping more than any other country in the world. But with millions of people addicted to buying, what is the real price shoppers have paid for their hobby, and can credit card exorcism be the last resort to save the addicts?

Hot styles and new “must-have” items of the fashion world change as fast as the seasons but one thing that never goes out of style in the U.S. is shopping. “America is the birthplace of modern consumerism,” said the author of “The Looting of America” Les Leopold. Nowhere else in the world do people buy more than in America. There are officially more shopping malls in the U.S. than high schools. “If I didn’t spend all that money on sunglasses, I could probably save for college”, said one young shopper in New York to RT.

With a daily need for a new dose of Jackets, sweaters and skirts, Isadora considers herself a shopaholic. The shopping lover told RT she owns about two hundred pairs of shoes but doesn’t know for certain since she has lost count. The urge to possess has taken over men too— statistics say men and women compulsively shop equally nowadays. “I am actually excited about expensive brands. During the last couple of years I have spent more than one hundred thousand dollars on clothes”, said one man to RT who chose to keep his name anonymous. While these numbers are simply unimaginable for millions of Americans, only a few are putting up a fight against consumerism.


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Reverend Billy says a credit card exorcism on the entire nation is what can cure America. “15 million Americans are addicted to shopping, but many more than the 15 million shop too much”, said the anti-consumerist activist who set up The Church of Life after Shopping. Reverend Billy’s main life mission is to chase away the shopping devil – by putting on acts in churches and shopping malls around the country. The purpose of the exaggerations is to make Americans see their flaws. “Consumerism – it’s a church. It’s a fundamentalist church. It’s like the roman-catholic church in the fourteen hundreds”, the man explains.

These desperate times could be calling for desperate measures like spells and exorcisms, since more often than not in the U.S. lately shoppers can not afford to spend as much money as they do.  “The majority of people have too much month left at the end of the money”, said financial analyst Max Fraad Wolff. The average American is said to generate over 50 tons of garbage by the time they are a senior. 

With millions buzzing around New York's stores this holiday season, it's hard to know who is doing it responsibly and who is completely out of control. While compulsively shopping is not a mental disorder, The Big Apple has dozens of therapy groups and clinics for those willing to admit they are hooked on spending. This could be an indication of no lessons having been learnt even after the big crash of a recession. 

Blogger and Filmmaker Danny Schechter says, “Don’t forget the power of advertising, the constant drone of buy, buy, buy that we see on television or read in newspapers. This society is organized around consumption not production, it’s the thing to do and something people are encouraged to do and of course, the credit card companies make it easier because they lend you the money upfront.”

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