One of the many fascinations of contemporary blogging/vlogging culture is the extreme amount of money that it takes to share your personal style with the world whilst not being paid. The “haul” is a fantastically strange beast, in which young women share on youtube their shopping haul–unloading their overflowing bags from topshop, nordstroms, and sephora. In some ways the haul seems to be a product of the arrival of “fast fashion,” or extremely cheap stores like H&M that allow people to buy many products for very little money. But the really popular people on youtube are showing off very expensive purchases. One of my favorite youtube people seems to be a nanny, so how she spends hundreds of dollars every month on makeup and clothes is a bit of a mystery. I guess people also have credit cards, so maybe in haul videos we are just watching Americans spending more than they have in real time. And the really successful ones are just given stuff.

There is another answer that makes me a little uncomfortable. Some of these women just make a reasonable amount of money and choose to spend between $100 and $500 a month on frivolous things. This is hard for me to imagine, because I think even if I made $60,000 a year I would be slightly embarrassed to show the world my $700 Chloe shoes on youtube. And that’s without any of the caveats of debt, dependents, or lack of job security.

But at the same time, I think that we as a culture are very weird about women spending their own money. As women become more and more dominant in the workforce, it is obvious that luxury purchases will also be increasingly consumed by women. But I think there is still a way in which we assume that men can more rationally assess the difference between a want and a need and make their consumer choices accordingly. As the “chrissstinne” in the above video says, “I work 70 hour weeks” as she is justifies her very expensive shoe purchase. However, I think she tells us that because it seems a little wrong that a 25 year old should buy herself $700 shoes.

I guess my real question is whether there is actually something liberating about young women with large incomes (a category that I would love to be in), saying “I have a $500 a month budget for beauty.” Or is this merely the feminization of white collar work catching up with the feminization of consumption?

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