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An $118 sweatshirt won't save me
When companies weaponize my mommy exhaustion
Ok, so you know when you’re casually nurturing your online shopping addiction and minding your own business when a pop-up appears asking if you need help? Usually the pop-up is relatively benign. “Hi! I’m Julie, here to help you with your outdoor adventure needs! Let me know if you need help with sizing!” “Let’s be skincare besties! I’m here to help you find the clarifying cleanser you didn’t know you couldn’t live without.” “I noticed you have a few things in your cart - need help checking out?” Whatever.
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But last week, I was browsing for overpriced sweatshirts on a variety of websites when THIS pop-up appeared (on one of the websites - I can’t remember which one).
I mean, truly fuck off.
One of the quickest ways to stop me from buying shit I don’t online is to act like you (the company trying to sell me shit) are invested in literally anything other than selling me shit. This means Instagram clothing companies trying to sell me a white button-down “ideal for my busy mom lifestyle” can fuck off. This means skincare companies assuring me that their face balm “is the One Product mama can use for herself and her littles” can fuck off. This means “Stylist 411” presuming to understand my humanity and individual life experience by assuring me they “know how exhausting being me is” can absolutely fuck off.
Buying shit is unavoidable and sometimes I buy shit I actually need, but typically, when I’m spending an hour on 12 different “fancy sweatshirt” sites, I am fully aware that I’m online browsing as a coping mechanism. Maybe I’m bored. Maybe I’m procrastinating. Maybe I’m allowing myself to play pretend and believe that the purchase of a $118 sweatshirt will cure whatever is ailing me. But that illusion is instantly destroyed when I get a pop-up assuring me that an algorithm knows how “busy I am juggling everything.”
And while I understand that this pop-up is delivered to various adult humans searching for a perfectly slouchy, slightly cropped sweatshirt, and that not all of those adult humans are mothers, the dripping condescension (and use of the words “juggle” and “exhausted”) makes me cynically assume that the demented marketing person who penned this copy was deliberately targeting all the exhausted little juggling mommies desperately searching for salvation by means of soft clothing.
Does this marketing person truly think that mommies are so burnt out and desperate for help/solace/sleep/sweatshirts (to be clear, we are), we will believe that this clothing company is not only motivated by pure altruism but that “looking our best” will be just as good as living in a country where affordable, quality childcare is easily accessible for all? Does this marketing ogre think this particular exhausted juggling mommy will buy not only their company’s sweatshirt but also their promise that the sweatshirt will actually make my life “a bit easier” if it’s “perfectly paired” with whatever else they’re trying to sell me?
Consumerism will not make mothers less tired. Consumerism will not alleviate mothers’ mental loads. Consumerism will not make mothers look and feel their best.
You know what sort of pop-up actually might get me to buy a $118 sweatshirt? One which utilized radical honesty.
“Hey mama! The only thing that will improve your daily life in any meaningful way is systemic support for carework paired with bodily autonomy but until then, you live in America, so why not slap a band-aid on your existential despair with this $118 sweatshirt?”
PS - here’s the sweatshirt I bought thanks to a rec from a trusted source. No pop-ups were involved and my dignity was left intact.