5 April 2012


I have developed a serious fake-shopping addiction since moving to Kinshasa.

It mostly involves jcrew.com.  Sometimes kiehls.com.  Often the "natural" section of sephora.com.

(No underwear though.  Those sites are all blocked on our super student-safety-centered iBoss internet security system.  As is Target.com.  Go figure.)

This is how it works: I carefully examine the website (usually while Johan is being a good parent and reading long bedtime stories to Elias), putting anything that catches my eye into my fake cart.  A sweet French-ish dress for Lou.  A hot pink leather belt for me.  A trendy hair pomade that Johan definitely needs.  Some awesome round kid's glasses for Elias.  Six pairs of multi-colored matchstick jeans.  You  know, all the essentials.

File:Stencil shopping cart.jpg
An image from the spanish subvertising group ConsumeHastaMorir, www.consumehastamorir.org

When the fake-total of my fake-cart borders on enormous, I then force myself to whittle it down to the "reasonable" realm. (Thinking that I will actually be purchasing these items?)  At this point, my fake-cart sits there in cyberspace for weeks.  Until it times out, erases my goods, and I'm forced to start all over again.

Yes, I really do this.

But, you have to understand that when we moved here, I packed extremely light.  I was more concerned about fitting eight bottles of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps All-One! into our 10 plastic trunks than a good wardrobe.  So, my theory at the time was to pack all black.  Mix-n-Match.  So, I almost-literally packed an entirely black wardrobe.  Which, has led to me being cornered in school bathrooms by missionaries and asked why I "always wear black."  Luckily, my reply to this concern ("I was making space for thrifty concentrated soap!") is more than acceptable and has actually earned me respect. 

Don't get me wrong.  I still love the power of all-black.  But, living in a country where everyone drapes themselves in the most beautiful of insane color at all times, I find myself feeling incredibly drab in my practical, French (that's what I call it) uniform of all-black.

Which leads me to obsessively fake-shop for hot-pink leather belts.  And red pants.  And green sandals.

While I (obviously) love my American online shopping, it's Vlisco that dominates my current dreams.  The perfect collision of pagne and design.  The company's fantastic billboards shock me every time.  They are unlike anything else around them in this city.  (or the Universe.)

The other day, I went to their beautiful showroom in downtown Kinshasa and found it closed.  The guard said I could window shop.  So, while the police loudly harassed an accused voleur next to me, and Kinshasa haphazardly passed behind me, I pressed my nose to the window and fake-shopped high fashion locally. 

I continue to fake-shop with great frequency.  I've only actually tried to order one thing for real.  But, that order quickly got lost and never arrived in Central Africa.  My red pants are who knows where.  I'm seriously considering getting myself some incredibly expensive Vlisco fabric as a 30th birthday present to myself...

1 comment:

  1. I love you, Jill, and happy birthday! I hope you get lots of lovely Vlisco fabric!


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