I was born without a shopping gene.
While my girlfriends drool over blouses in clothing stores, I get antsy and fight the urge to flee. Shopping is more of a search-and-destroy mission for me than a fun time spending hours looking for a perfect [fill in article of clothing here].
Thankfully for the U.S. economy, I am the minority.
While I may not be into shopping, thousands of young women love it so much that they’ve taken to making “haul videos” to display, on the Internet, their (manifold!) fashion purchases. Typically these girls sit in their bedrooms before a webcam and slowly, lovingly identify every detail of every piece of whatever they just bought, be it under-eye concealer, jewelry or a huge mound of clothing. (For non-shoppers, it can be agonizing to watch, and you might yell out in pain as they fawn over an eyelash curler.)
Some critics say the girls do this to show off. Others say they do it to help other shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for (in addition to, possibly, showing off). Either way, consumers are noticing—to the tune of hundreds of millions of Internet hits.
National Public Radio commentator Viet Le calls the YouTube phenomenon “PG girl porn.” Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist, told ABC News that the videos are “a vicarious pleasure. You don’t have to spend the money and you still get the thrill; it’s a bit like pornography.”
But observers also say that by video blogging their purchases, these young ladies are becoming savvy entrepreneurs. Some are raking in big bucks through sponsorships, product deals and magazine spreads. Shishir Mehorotra, director of product management at YouTube, told ABC, “We have hundreds of partners that make over $1,000 a month, and we have several that are making six figures and really are supporting a living off of YouTube.”
Is this voyeurism? Superior shopping? Do these girls seriously need to get a life beyond themselves? Or are haul videos an opportunity to unite technology and entertainment with social media to help rescue the U.S. economy?
I’ll let you decide how to answer. Two of the most popular vloggers are sisters Elle and Blair Fowler. Watch their vlogs (if you dare) and feel free to share any comments—if you can make it past any eyelash curlers.