Many people find shopping to be frivolous and time-consuming. That could not be further from the truth for me and many people in the thrifting/secondhand community. For many of us, thrifting is not just an activity but a form of self-care.
Self-care for people can manifest in many ways, such as cleaning their house, taking a bubble bath, reading, or even sleeping. But, for me and others like myself, thrifting is a form of self-care. Why, you ask? Because thrifting is more than just shopping it is an experience.
Thrifting for me helps me partake in self-care in three important ways.
First, thrifting helps me appreciate differing viewpoints and outlooks on life. This might sound odd in regards to self-care, but it is very important. When I thrift, I get to learn about different cultures, not care about socioeconomic standpoints, and meet people from all different walks of life. Every time I step into a thrift store, it feels like a whole new world, full of possibilities. I find things that help me see and appreciate the world in a different way. Thrifting helps me, like many others, be grounded and remember gratitude can be found in the most simple of places.
Next, thrifting allows me to be free in my body. As a gender-nonconforming person, when I go thrifting I do not feel judged or policed in the way I do when I am at department stores. Traversing between the men’s and women’s sections of the store is easy. I am able to take my time and appreciate all the beauty around me. This is especially important for me as an act of self-care because my body is not easy to fit things to and I need to try things on. Being able to take my time helps me really find things I love. Moreover, thrifting allows me to be free by not feeling pressured to leave the store quickly. Taking my time, feeling the fabrics, and seeing the details of the clothes in the store is important to me. Self-care can be found in the most minuscule of places.
Finally, thrifting allows me to be financially responsible as I shop. Like many young adults, money is a stressor, especially since I am into fashion. Often I feel like I waste money on fashion even though it makes me happy. Thus, when I am able to go to thrifting it takes that stressor easy. I feel responsible while being able to interact with fashion. This is very important to me. Being able to find relaxation while shopping and not thinking about a stressor that otherwise would be there is such an important part of self-care for me.
Self-care can take many forms. Thrifting for me, like others, is one of the ways we engage in self-care. Thrifting can be a restfully cathartic experience if you let it.
Xavier (Zay) is a fashion educator who teaches people how to Slay Responsibly when it comes to handbags, fashion, pre-loved items, and brands. He helps people realize they have more power when it comes to handbags and luxury than they think. Zay lives in the Washington, DC area, is a PhD student studying strategic communication, identifies as nonbinary, and is self-proclaimed baghead!