Shopping rack from Sofia's travels ...Sofia Johanson with permission for Varsity

If financial limitations and the environmental crisis did not exist, I would be an absolute menace to the high streets. Fortunately, I don’t have an overdraft and I quite like polar bears.

But what if I submitted to the powerful forces that wrench people towards the tills – would that be so bad? The level of snobbery shown towards those (read: women) who love shopping is staggering and I can’t decide whether I think the judgment is valid.

The most obvious criticism comes from environmentalists (or anyone else who also likes polar bears), who correctly point out that ordering three new “going-out tops” every month from Motel Rocks, only for two to be burned on their return to the warehouse and one to be worn a few times to Revs is more than a little problematic. Moreover, we should recognise the objection from those who highlight the pitiful salaries and archaic working conditions of those who make these garments. These assessments are fair and should certainly be at the forefront of any shopper’s mind.

“You can have integrity, intelligence, and the ability to appreciate a well-tailored blazer”

But the critiques I cannot stand are those based on the idea that a woman who loves shopping is materialistic, empty-headed, greedy and superfluous. Rolling eyes and tuts directed at Barbie, Elle Woods, Blair Waldorf and Becky Bloomwood make me seethe. Didn’t they all prove that you can have integrity, determination and intelligence as well as the ability to appreciate a well-tailored blazer?

And yet it feels as if I should be embarrassed to make the confession that I love shopping. Actually, correction – I love window-shopping, and could only claim to love actual shopping if I had the funds.

Sofia Johanson with permission for Varsity

Perhaps I’ve been too successfully brainwashed by marketing and capitalism, but I feel fantastic when I’m wearing a new pair of jeans that fit just right, or a perfume that smells divine. I love standing in a changing room for 40 minutes, trying on various articles, completely unashamed when I have to leave half of them outside the cubicle because I’ve gone over the eight item limit. I even get great pleasure from wandering around stores in which I cannot afford a single item (apart from maybe a keyring, at a push) because it is all just so beautiful.

Does that make me vacuous? I really don’t think so. Sure, if I did it all the time and had no other interests then I would be incredibly dull to hold a conversation with, but that’s not yet the case. (I hope …)

“I am confident that ethics and a love for shopping can be balanced”

And this is the crux of my rage: we don’t belittle people who pin their entire existences on the performance of 11 men with well coordinated feet – even if it is literally their only interest and defining personality trait. (I will refrain from turning this into a feminist rant, because I sense I may lose some of my audience.)

(Actually, that being said, such individuals probably didn’t click on this article about shopping in the first place.) Those of us who get a rush from a well-organised shop floor should be left to enjoy our chosen leisure activity free from eye rolls, without assumptions that we are ignorant or avaricious.

Let me wander around Selfridges for three hours, getting a headache from the harsh lighting and stench of Chanel No.5. Let me set aside time when I’m in a new city for shopping, so I can pick through baskets of lopsided woolly hats or questionably bedazzled flip flops. And let me gaze through the window of Anya Hindmarch at that extortionately priced commuter tote which I am almost certainly never going to own.

Fitting room dilemmasSofia Johanson with permission for Varsity

I know I’ve ignored that awkward giant: online shopping. It’s not for me, but if you are one of those individuals who gets pleasure from hours of scrolling through Asos then you will experience zero judgment from this individual. However, I would gently advise those of you ordering 23 almost identical knitted jumpers because you don’t know which shade of lilac will best compliment your skin tone to consider how depressing the high streets will look if all the shops go bust.


Mountain View

Dear Auntie Maddy: Are there any good New Year’s resolutions that I can actually stick to?

Of course, all the classic questions of “who is making your jumper”, “do you really need it or are you going to buy another one in three months because now lilac is out of fashion” (plot twist: it never is – I love lilac) and “is it going to be rubbish quality” apply.

Don’t get me wrong – I hate being moralised on shopping, and I will bravely admit that I am typing this wearing a shirt from Zara and so am not in a position to preach in favour of ethical shopping purity. But maybe we could all stand to think about our shopping choices a little more deeply. However, I am confident that ethics and a love for shopping can be balanced.

And as for anyone still snickering at the awe inspired in me by the blouses at Claudie Pierlot, I won’t be tolerating any judgment from you – unless you’re going to apologise by sponsoring my next trip there … ?