The More I Shop, The More Miserable I Feel. Retail Therapy Analyzed.

original article published in The Huffington Post.

Forget meditation and yoga: For many stressed-out Americans, the best remedy for a stressful day at work or the sting of a painful breakup is the smell of brand-new clothing, the feel of a silk dress and the sound of a credit card being swiped. If you turn to retail therapy in times of anxiety, you’re not alone — according to a recent survey, nearly one in three recently stressed Americans (which accounts for 91 percentof the general population) shops to deal with stress.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey — an online poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by the Huffington Post — found that women were twice as likely as men to use retail therapy as a way to cope with stress (40 percent vs. 19 percent). And in turn, men were more than twice as likely as women (34 percent vs. 16 percent) to say that they had never shopped out of stress and would never consider doing so in the future.

But gender aside, there is one trait many “stress-shoppers” have in common: They tend to seek distracting, temporary fixes to alleviate their stress. HuffPost’s survey found that those who shop to deal with anxiety (versus those who do not) were also…

  • 46 percent more likely to exercise to cope with stress
  • 86 percent more likely to eat to cope with stress
  • 76 percent more likely to worry about their weight

In other words, the stress-shoppers are also “stress-eaters” and “stress-exercisers.” Those who used retail therapy tend toward the “flight” side of fight vs. flight, distancing themselves from the stress with an unrelated activity rather than facing it head-on. In contrast, the respondents who said they never shop to deal with stress were more likely to cope by finding the root of their anxiety and confronting it.

And yet stress-shopping is still an appealing coping mechanism — and it helps that it’s super convenient. Many of us shop online using our iPads, laptops and even cell phones. “It was so easy to lose track of how much I was spending,” Darleen Meier, a self-described “Gilt addict,” told HuffPost Women in 2011. “At the high point, I was getting boxes delivered to my doorstep every single day of the week. It was time to stage an intervention.”

As temporarily uplifting as an afternoon of store-hopping may be, excessive consumption can leave a lingering toll on your credit card statement that may ultimately lead to higher stress levels due to financial concerns. Unsurprisingly, those who turned to retail therapy were more likely to feel stressed out by unexpected expenses (55 percent vs. 44 percent) and to be concerned about how they’ll pay their monthly bills (59 percent vs. 34 percent).

To curb a stress-spending habit and avoid accumulating debt on impulse purchases, try to avoid shopping altogether when you know you’re feeling upset or anxious. If you do need to shop, go with a list of items that you actually need to buy — and stick to it. Women’s personal finance resource Learvest also recommends leaving credit cards at home and carrying cash instead, unsubscribing from email newsletters from your favorite retailers and avoiding shopping with wealthy friends as ways to tame an impulse-buying habit.

Of course, that’s all easier said than done. Do you ever shop to deal with stress? How to you try to curb your stress-shopping habits?

Why Are Dark Haired Girls Always The “Bad” Girls?

Original article published in Cosmopolitan.

Betty-and-Veronica

She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts
She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers. 

— 2016 presidential candidate Taylor Swift

Last night I Instant Netflixed an episode of American Horror Story in which an evil little girl murders people, in the style of real-life Mary Bell, with long, dark Wednesday Addams braids. And this morning Reese Witherspoon returned to her blonde locks after her brief, ill-fated stint as a brunette. OK, in Reese’s case it’s a pretty clear PR-recommended move to erase her arrest from everyone’s mind. Nevertheless, what’s with the zeitgeisty demonization of dark-haired ladies?

I guess we have Archie Comics’ Betty and Veronica to blame for the blonde/brunette dichotomy (although, unfortunately, I can’t say that the concept of two smoking hot, smart, female friends of varying pigmentations fighting over an unremarkable ginger for decades is only confined to comic books). While Betty was a down-to-earth tomboy who could change a tire and “always tried to do the right thing,” Veronica was a high-maintenance, scheming rich girl. (But don’t hate on her. Like Jessica Rabbit, she was just drawn this way.) We all knew Archie would end up with good-girl Betty. Incidentally, while all of the boys in Archie comics had different facial features, Betty and Veronica’s were identical. Hello, Freud.

The grand tradition continued from our parents’ adolescence to our own — case in point: Blair and Serena on the first few seasons of Gossip Girl — and even hair textures come into the female stereotype mix. On Sex and The City, blonde Carrie brings up The Way We Were to lambast Mr. Big’s “perfect,” icy new brunette wife Natasha. (Basically, Veronica in 3D.)

Miranda: “But he can’t be with her because she’s too complicated, and she has wild curly hair. So he leaves her and marries this…simple girl. With straight hair.”

Carrie: “Ladies, I am having an epiphany. The world is made up of two types of women: the simple girls, and the Katie girls. I am a Katie girl.

(Incidentally, short of a mohawk or an actual shape buzzed up against his skull, I have never heard any kind of assumptions about men’s personalities based on their hair color or hair texture. “His hair is straight, so he must be boring.” Whaaaat?)

In Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” Good Blonde Tay-Tay bounces around her bedroom in nerd glasses, Converse and tie-dyed T-shirts while Bad Brunette Tay-Tay – who SO was half a virgin last year! – walks around in stiletto heels and B*tch Face and lets the boy next door get to third base in the back of her convertible.

BUT CAN’T [HE] SEEEEEEE HE BELONGS WITH [HERRRRRRR]?! (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

So there’s no question why blondes have more fun — everyone assumes us dark-haired ladies are either waiting for a guy to drape his coat over a sidewalk puddle or stabbing a 4th grade playmate with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Pieces Of A Collage.

Original article written by me for The Boston Globe.

When I think of college I feel they misspelled the name of this experience and that it was originally meant to be called Collage. For the average student, college is a compilation of experiences, emotions and relationships that will define both your future as well as help shape who you are as a person.

I am from Caracas, Venezuela but I decided to come to school in Boston because I wanted to learn how to write in English. Mission accomplished, I guess. But I never expected the huge cultural shock that going to a school like Emerson College would represent for me.

Coming from a conservative Latin-American background, I wasn’t necessarily prepared for how liberal and open-minded the people at an American school are. But after four years I’ve come to realize that if I’d have gone to a school with people more like the old me, I would have never seized the opportunity to pursue my passions the way I did at Emerson.

The thing about going to such a trade-specific school is that you’re constantly surrounded by the most talented people you will ever meet. Not only that, but their drive and passion is comparable to none. Emersonians take their college experience way beyond the classroom by getting involved in extra-curricular activities that allow them to express their talents and creativity in every possible way.

This is something I didn’t come to understand until my senior year, when I realized that my resume was way superior to the resumes of students from other schools, because of the amount of extra-curricular opportunities the school provided me with, and how much encouragement I received from both my professors and classmates.

Since Emerson is such a small school, you end up taking classes with the same people throughout your entire college career. And as cliché as it sounds, you do develop a family feeling towards them. At Emerson, you are not trained to believe that your classmates are you competition but your partners-in-success.

It would be too easy to say that everything about college is wonderful and that these years are all fun and happiness, but that is far from the truth. College is a really existential period in our lives, and the amount of bad things that happen to you are probably equal to the amount of good things. I mean, how many of us found ourselves in a situation that seemed like the end of the world, only to later realize that it really wasn’t such a big deal?

These realizations however, only come to you when you look at you college experience in retrospect. Looking back, everything that happens to you in college is like a little piece of a collage. But you only get to assemble this collage once you are through with your four years, and put together all of the pieces you have been handed. You then realize that every piece of the collage has a spot where it fits perfectly to form the picture you are left with.

Adriana Herdan is a graduating senior at Emerson College. Her major is journalism and after graduation she plans to move to New York to pursue a career in fashion journalism.