Why I shop at Forever 21 alone


I feel at peace in shopping malls. And in grocery stores, department stores, or just other large commercial areas dedicated to capitalism. These places calm me down when I’m angry or upset, and I feel my most comfortable in them.

I like the feeling of being lost among all the crap. Walking up down aisles and aisles of food, pretending they go on forever. Strolling past countless stores with countless clothes that I wish I had countless money to buy.

I feel weightless and peaceful, surrounded by all this stuff I don’t need. And one store where I feel particularly serene is Forever 21. For both its size, and its variety.

I like to meander around the store, staring at the countless crop tops and willing them to become work-appropriate. I like to flip through the racks and find borderline absurd pieces of clothing that I’d never wear squished between all the clothes around it so I can take it to the dressing room like a prize I won.

I like to look at all the clothes and imagine the outfits: if I was a hipster musician I could wear this; if I was chic businesswoman I could wear this; if I was a flighty European model I could wear this; if I was James Dean I could wear this. All the possibilities.

And so I’m not just shopping. I’m imagining. I’m envisioning. I am losing myself to the clothes and the opportunities they put before me. They become inextricably linked with my self – the self that I imagine I am, all the versions of my self.

All of these thoughts put me a such great ease, that I can’t help but spend way too long inside a Forever 21. That’s usually why I go in alone. Because I don’t want to burden someone else with the time it all takes – time which I assuredly lose track of. But it’s also a deeply personal experience, that I wouldn’t have if there was a friend along with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping with other people. Helping each other pick things out and comparing outfits in the dressing room. But sometimes what I really need is the experience with the clothes. To be at peace. To become one with the clothes, and the clothes to be with me.