You Don’t Need More Stuff

August 1, 2017

What did you study in college? I studied advertising. It was a wonderful middle ground that checked a lot of boxes for me:

  • Marketable degree that could easily provide me a decent-paying career (joke’s on me because I ended up in higher education, ha ha)
  • Creative field
  • Writing/communication focused
  • Business-minded
  • Playful, casual working environments
  • Exciting, fast-paced, and varied work

It was all wonderful, except by the time I was a mere two classes away from graduating, I realized I didn’t want to work in an advertising agency. It hit me that the whole foundation of advertising is selling people things they don’t need (and often can’t afford), based on the idea that they’re not good enough as they are. 

Of course there are exceptions to this, but it certainly narrowed down my career possibilities in advertising if I wasn’t willing to work in the vast majority of agencies. I felt stuck and disenchanted.

Advertising in Blogging

Now I’m blogging more seriously and this “issue” has come up for me again. I’m connecting with lots of mom bloggers and I frequently come across women that have basically become walking advertisements. I’m not knocking any of those people. They are often stay-at-home-moms and blogging is their business! I’m not an idiot, I know the way to make a living blogging is to sell.

What stuff you have, and how much you have of it, is not an indication of who you are.

But I often find myself looking at posts like “5 Must-Have Baby Items” that feature things like $180 formula dispensers (why anyone would rather spend that kind of money  than say, I dunno, shake it up in the bottle for 10 seconds… it’s beyond me), and thinking none of these things are necessary. While I am glad that moms have found things to make their lives easier, the truth of the matter is that you don’t need more stuff. My kids are (generally) polite, interesting, kind, smart, funny, healthy, and ALIVE, and I used very little fancy gear. For example, I owned a $10 baby monitor I bought second hand that *shock* didn’t have camera features. And because we’ve always lived in smaller houses, sometimes I didn’t use a monitor at all and just heard them through the walls.

I started off my motherhood journey as a single, 22-year-old college student with an unplanned pregnancy and a low income. When I see this type of post, I remember the feeling of inadequacy and dread, wondering if my child would be somehow disadvantaged because I didn’t have this special product or that unique service. Now I’m a few years down the road, my children are not in the least bit disadvantaged, and I am oddly glad that we have struggled financially so profoundly because it has taught me to be rich in all the right things: love, grace, and hope.

A Richer Perspective

I will gladly share my perspective with you:

  1. You don’t need to spend more money on clothing or makeup to be lovely, because you already are. (Incidentally, I’ve always found it odd that skincare/hair/makeup bloggers call themselves “Beauty Bloggers.” Beauty is not achieved by having a particular type of skin, hair, or makeup. I believe people are made beautiful, they don’t become that way through products and techniques.)
  2. Your house doesn’t have to be decorated a certain way to be welcoming to others—just open your doors and invite people in. 
  3. You don’t need more stuff to be a wonderful parent. Your child doesn’t care about high-end baby gear or trendy clothing–stuff can’t make them happy just as it can’t make you happy. Your children care about whether or not they are spending quality time with you. 
  4. Being a consumer, like so many things in life, requires critical thinking. It’s a bit like panning for gold–you must filter through the grit, the dull and mundane, and the sludge, to find the lovely golden treasures that you want to keep.

Have you ever felt inadequate as a woman or mom when reading blogs or browsing social media like Pinterest or Instagram? Have you ever felt discouraged by targeted advertising? Please be encouraged–you are not alone, and as cliche as it is, the best things in life are free. 

Release yourself from the expectation, from the strongholds of STUFF. What stuff you have, and how much you have of it, is not an indication of who you are or your worth.

If you’d like to receive a personal note of encouragement from me relating to this topic, comment below or email me at abrightneighborhood@gmail.com.

By Kellie

Kellie is a redeemed woman pursuing vulnerability, color, and hygge. She loves to write, take photographs, play, and learn. She's a marketing specialist by day, a blogger at night... and a mom all the time. Kellie lives in Denton, Texas with her husband, Clay, and their young daughters.

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    Shell

    Love your thoughtful insight!!!! The things that bring us the most joy in this life are not things that can be purchased….

  2. Reply

    Maranda Laverdure

    This hits home so much! We are a budgeted family of 6 and it is hard to adjust to, but we have learned how to really live in our means. We no longer spend to much on luxury items. We splurge once a year for the holidays, but that is it. I love how you put everything in perspective in you post!

  3. Reply

    Cindy

    This I should such a lovely post, Kelly! You are so correct that the best things in life are free. There will always be someone telling you to put something in or on your body, telling you you will look, feel or be better. Thanks for such great thoughts!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Thanks, Cindy! I decided long ago that I didn’t with kids, I didn’t have time or energy for BS. I’ve created good boundaries for myself and generally “opt out” of any negative feelings.

  4. Reply

    Jiya B

    I loved reding this. You after reading the post I had this thought in mind what we have we never give importance to it. We try and get more and more. and at times that is the reason we do not feel satisfied. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Reply

    Melissa

    While I appreciate your perspective on this topic I don’t necessarily agree with your points about expensive things or other gear being unnecessary. We all value different things and some moms have the resources, space, and need for those products that can make your life easier and not all bloggers are promoting these items just to get paid. What I do agree with is that moms should not feel like they are inadequate or a bad mom if they do not have the stuff that bloggers are talking about (but that isn’t the bloggers fault). Building other moms up should be our goal!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Hi, Melissa!

      Yes, the goal should always be to build up other women. I hope you see that my intention here was to do just that. I don’t feel like I tore down any moms, but please call me out if you feel like I did!

      I don’t think expensive things are unnecessary at all. Some of the most crucial items are the biggest ticket items, for example a high-quality breast pump, or a stroller, a car seat, crib… the list goes on. I also don’t think that mom bloggers practice enough intentionality when it comes to sponsored posts, and that was my thought.

      While it is true that we all value different things, and I certainly don’t hold it against any mom if they have more resources, it’s important to exercise more critical thought. I don’t think the vast majority of moms NEED a formula mixer, for example, and calling it a “must-have” item is a misnomer (and our words carry weight). It would be more appropriate to say “5 items that I loved” and give reasons why it was critical for their life. It’s also important to make sure we as moms aren’t being taken advantage of by big-name advertisers. I’m a marketing professional, I know how this works, and it’s not great. Companies are paid lots of money to get people to buy things that they don’t need because they make the consumer think they DO need it. And moms are an easy target–we’re tired, a lot of women feel a bit inadequate as it is, and just want the best for our kids.

  6. Reply

    Candy

    I agree with this post. Bloggers walk on a fine tight rope. Also, we are from all places in life. I do feel advertising takes a huge part, but still these are real people. I’ve found the longer I get to know everyone, the more I understand.

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Great perspective!

  7. Reply

    Ellen @Younglovemommy

    Lots of great insight here.. I buy what I need, the things I want and if I think they’d be beneficial to my circumstances, but I believe everyone is free to make that decision for themselves. However, I am trying to downsize, sometimes it’s the amount of things we accumulate is overwhelming.

  8. Reply

    Stacy

    That’s awesome that your sticking to your beliefs when it comes to your career and blogging. I’m not a huge fan of reading post that are just trying to sell to me unless the writer really believes in the product that they’re trying to promote.

  9. Reply

    Brittani | Coffee Toddlers & Chaos

    I like your perspective, but from a Mom who fed both my babies formula, I very seriously considered buying the dispenser for formula, especially for middle of the night feedings when my son would get up 6 or more times a night, and I was barely conscious enough to try and make a bottle each time.

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      I formula fed, too. I guess I never had this problem… of course I was tired, but it wasn’t a big deal to me to either pre-fill the bottles with water and just add formula, or to make it in the night. It certainly wasn’t worth $180, at least not for me anyway. But again, I was a low-income single mom.

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