"I just bought 15 pairs of sunglasses online for $15," a friend of mine announced triumphantly as she navigated the unbearable traffic of a mid-September eve.
When questioned on the motivation behind her purchase of such a blasphemous amount of sunnies just as the final days of summer slipped from under our suntanned toes, she blamed it on a week of stress and an undying need to shop for comfort.
Fast fashion has blinded us, and the outcome is more than just finding a pair of heart-shaped, blood-red sunglasses worthy of adding to our carts.
Our human instinct is to find things of high desire for a lower cost than we expect. It's the modern day's equivalent of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. We hunt for offers and online discount codes and gather our winnings on a dusty shelf as we go out for the second hunt.
Blame it on the chemicals in our brains, which literally release dopamine as soon as we make a bargain purchase during a hot flash sale.
Fast fashion has made us gluttonous, like a fat kid binge eating through the fridge, putting on mute the signals of satiation desperately traveling from his ever-expanding stomach to his brain.
You don't need 15 sunglasses, but you want them- and that's the issue.
Our hunt for the cheapest product has made us disregard things like necessities, or better yet, human rights. We know that phony Nirvana t-shirt from Forever 21 was made with the bloodied hands of children in a crowded sweatshop in a developing country, but the $12 price tag mutes the immorality of the $3/day that they earned.
It has made us judge those who consciously buy high quality- and subsequently, high cost- clothes as pretentious. The hunt for quality and longevity has become a shameful act. We've normalised the wear-once-and-throw-away culture.
But here's the biggest psychological impact of all: guilt. Do you ever get that same feeling you slump into after hitting that 'buy now' button or swiping your card at that high street shop that you get seconds after demolishing a large pizza on your own? Our instincts know that we don't need three pairs of jeans and 5 t-shirts. Inherently, we are programmed to satisfy a need- not a desire. Just as an unlimited, all-you-can-eat brunch makes you more likely to stuff your face, the lower-than-low price tags on those high street jeans, skirts and shoes make you more likely to over-indulge on the wrong things.
While it's 99% more convenient to mass-buy questionable-yet-fashionable outfits online or at big names at our local shopping malls, it's 100% more satisfying to buy pieces that you know were made with love, quality material, and most of all, humanity.