Personal Paper: How Consumerism Affects a Teen

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Growing up in a tiny apartment in L.A., I remember asking my parents for another Barbie doll or a remote-controlled truck every time we went shopping. Mostly, I had no luck. However on occasion, my parents took me to Goodwill where I could pick the toy of my choice. At the time, I was overjoyed to have received what I wanted. As the days passed though, I would eventually forget about the toy and move on to something else that claimed my attention. It wasn’t until much later in high school that I realized what caused this cycle. Last year as a sophomore, I decided to take a class on Human Geography. It had given me a new perspective on spatial awareness, but one topic clearly stuck to my mind: consumerism.

We live in a society today where material possessions are the markers of prosperity. Consumer goods circulate our global markets and play a vital role in our capitalistic economy. Through Human Geography, I was able to see how consumerism governs almost every aspect of our daily lives such as the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the activities we do for fun. Even the electronics used today are a significant factor in determining an adolescent’s standing in the social hierarchy. I was the typical teen consumer. All of my time and money went into buying clothes from Forever 21 or going to the movies on a monthly basis. It was an eye opening moment for me when I realized that I was not only living in consumerism, but was also completely immersed in it. It was then that I learned to distinguish between my wants and my needs so that I wouldn’t become engulfed in the consumer society. When I went to the mall, I no longer just saw articles of clothing through the eyes of a giddy female teenager but through those of an intrigued young adult that couldn’t stop asking questions. How does the outcome of a fashion trend affect the international markets in Japan? How much money is invested in food production? Where is Nike’s labor force concentrated? I was amazed at...
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