Monday, January 26, 2015

Thrift Store Shopping: Is It Worth the Deal?

Over the holiday season, I needed some fabric to make some Christmas crafts with my children.  Rather than drive all the way to the fabric store, I decided to visit the local thrift shop.  I scored some great deals on fabric and also left with a Christmas sweater that I would later tear up to use for the crafts as well. After our family craft time was over, we marveled at the beautiful things we were able to make with the thrift store fabric.  However, a short while later, I started feeling guilty about my purchase. 

I frequently drop off outgrown clothes, toys, bikes and even furniture to the local thrift stores in my area.  I always leave feeling a little bit better because I am hopeful that these things will go to children or families in need.  However, I now realize that this may not be the case at all.  These items may be going to people who make a decent living and just want a bargain.  And that makes me a little sad. 

Thanks to Macklemore, thrift store shopping has become quite trendy.   Recently, there was even an article in our local paper touting a thrift shop’s “high-quality merchandise at low prices”.  I have always been one to think that thrift stores were created, not for finding bargains, but for people who don’t have the means to shop anywhere else.  The more I thought about this, the more terrible I felt about tearing up that Christmas sweater so that my family could make ornaments out of it.

I started thinking about all of the people who have the means to go elsewhere, but who frequent the thrift shops to find deals.  I realize that thrift shops are businesses, and the owners probably don’t care one way or another who does the purchasing of the items in their stores.  But the items for sale in thrift shops are usually one of a kind.  It’s not like going to Walmart and having twelve bikes to choose from that all cost fifty dollars.  A thrift shop may only have one bike for fifteen dollars.  And in my mind, I would feel awful buying that fifteen dollar bike when there might be a kid out there who can’t afford the Walmart special and was saving his money for the thrift shop bargain bike.  Along the same lines, I wonder if someone had their eye on the Christmas sweater that I took home for three dollars and tore apart.  Is there some sort of moral code when shopping in thrift stores?  Are people who need to shop at thrift stores offended by the bargain hunters?  Do they care one way or the other?

In today’s struggling economy, I completely understand the need for a good deal for everyone, regardless of your financial status.  However, if you can afford to go elsewhere, is that the better moral choice?  Or is a bargain a bargain, regardless of the type of store?  I don’t know the answers to these questions, but personally, I now know how I feel about bargain hunting.  Going forward, I will make the longer car trip to the fabric store.  I will find my “bargains” at Walmart or on Ebay.  I will leave the joy of finding a great deal at the thrift shop for those who could really use a spring in their step. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Embrace Health

The New Year has begun, and with that, so has the exercise uprising.  I have lived a healthy lifestyle for quite a few years now, so getting fit is never on my resolution list.  With that said, I am proud of our society as, in more recent years, the focus is slowly turning toward health and fitness.  I applaud those who want to live a healthy lifestyle, rather than a sporadic dieting lifestyle.

However, there was a time when weight and dress size mattered to me.  About six years ago, I went through a divorce.  Even though the divorce was my idea, it was still a very hard decision, which led me to the “divorce diet”.  Those of you who are familiar with this diet know that it is not intentional to lose weight.  Due to stress, I survived on coffee, cigarettes and maybe a very small meal every day for almost a year.  Other than college, it was the unhealthiest time of my life.  (As an aside, since then, I stopped smoking, became a runner, and most recently, I’m trying out cycling.)  I lost an insane amount of weight and dropped to a size zero.  I know, I know.  Boohoo for me.  I was a zero.  And yes, I know people who struggle with larger sizes don’t pity me at all.  However, I’m not looking for pity.  I just want to say that being a size zero wasn’t easy.  Throughout my life, I have been a number of different sizes (up to and including size 10).  But I have to say that zero was the hardest.  Maybe it had something to do with how I was feeling at the time, or that by definition, zero means nothing.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.  And I knew that I was more than that.

I remember thinking that my frame, though small, had carried two healthy, beautiful children.  It held up through the awful things that were digested during my four years at Syracuse University.  It survived during my “club girl” phase.  It let me continue dancing at parties and weddings throughout my adult life.  Since I was four years old, it had carried me through the good and bad times living with Type 1 Diabetes. In other words, I realized that I was more than the size on my jeans.

Once the divorce was over, I became a serious runner and gained back some weight and added some muscle.  I graduated to a size two, where I sit firmly today.  But the biggest difference is that I am now a strong believer that size doesn’t matter.  I believe that health is the most important thing. 

I also know that in recent years, the word “curvy” has been tossed around quite often.  I refer to myself as curvy as, even though I am small, my hip to waist ratio is more J-Lo than Twiggy.  I think the definition of curvy is different depending on which woman you speak with.  But I ask this of all of the curvy women out there-don’t hide behind the word “curvy”.  If you are curvy and HEALTHY, then by all means, celebrate that!  But if you are simply overweight and are calling yourself “curvy”, own that, and start entertaining the idea of being healthy instead.  What I am trying to say, in a very long winded way, is that small sizes, large sizes, being curvy, or being too thin is all irrelevant if it isn’t healthy. Embrace health.  If you aren’t healthy, change it before being unhealthy changes you.  Change it, not because of how you look in your jeans,   but because your body has brought you through your life, and you owe it to your body to treat it well.  Your body has come with you through your journey.  It has taken your punches for you.  And it will never let you down, as long as you don’t let it.