Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ubiquitous Trends I'm Planning to Avoid


There's never been a point in my life where I would have said I was trend-driven - I don't dress well enough for that to even make sense - but really, I am. I am in the same unconscious way that most people are. I don't consciously notice that everyone is wearing the same brand of boot, or backpack, or jacket. But the brand names seep into my mind by osmosis, so that when I go to make a purchase, I think of certain brands as being "normal."

I'm trying to notice this kind of thinking, instead of letting it just inform my choices while bypassing my brain. With that in mind, here are some ubiquitous brands I'm consciously planning to avoid.

Herschel Is it just me, or did every third backpack start being a Herschel about three years ago? My first kneejerk thought when I noticed all these is, "Everyone is wearing these, THEY MUST KNOW SOMETHING I DON'T," but when I calmed down and examined them (which I have ample time to do when I'm in line behind commuters on the escalator), they seem unexceptional and uncomfortable, with thin, flimsy straps. The whole point of a backpack, to my mind, is to distribute weight comfortably over your back and shoulders. If you don't care about comfort, why not have a purse or satchel or briefcase? Backpacks are functional items. I'm giving this brand a hard pass.

Hershey I have to admit I got some Kit-Kats for Halloween. Here in the U.S., it's easy to forget that most cheap, mainstream chocolate products (Hershey, Nestle, etc.) are made with slave labor. Chocolate is actually a really terrible industry. But it's also an area where it's become increasingly easy to find ethical, fair trade brands, like Divine, Equal Exchange, and Endangered Species. They're also much more delicious!

Poland Springs I see people carrying bottled water all the time, and as a person interested in fitness and avoiding sugar, drinking a lot of water appeals to me, too. But single-use plastic bottles are bad for the environment. It's so easy to carry a water bottle and fill it from the tap, especially when you live in a place with good tap water. I actually find it kind of unforgivable for Bostonians to drink bottled water. You have some of the cleanest drinking water in the world! Our tap water is probably better than some of the bottled water out there. That's why I find it especially obnoxious of Poland Springs to advertise here, as they recently did in a massive way by covering our subway cars with full-train ads. You think water from Maine reservoirs is that much better than ours? WE GOT THE QUABBIN.

Victoria's Secret A few years ago, I remember earnestly recommending Victoria's Secret bras to a friend, only to have to take on a pained expression and say, "Well… I have an unusual size, so." Little did I know that I also had an unusual size (at least, unusual in terms of its availability in the U.S., not its prevalence among women), but I was just accepting ill-fitting bras in my life! (I've written before about finding your true bra size.) I've come to see Victoria's Secret as a brand that really phones it in, and the last straw was a visit to a store where clerks tried to convince me that their bras fit me when they clearly didn't. I wrote to the company requesting a larger range of sizes, but they clearly have no plans to work on this as long as they can successfully convince women that sizes within their range fit well enough. Now every time I see someone with a VS Pink tote bag or umbrella I think, "Oh, those hacks."

Marvel Remember four years ago when everyone was going around The Avengers was sooo good? I got about half an hour into the movie before I remembered: "Oh, wait, I think superheroes are boring." As movie after movie comes out in theaters and this trend shows no sign of abating, I've forgotten this and gotten mildly hyped up about various films. Trends can be so massive that they actually override strong pre-existing preferences! But I'm not sure that any superhero movie can come up with a storyline that would actually maintain my interest, short of a tender romance between Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.

Addendum: I just noticed this post is going up on Election Day. Here's a trend I'm not planning to avoid: voting! Voting is a trend I will very much participate in. Won't you vote with me?

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