They Came, They Saw, They Bought It All


haul shopping.JPGI 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.

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  sosmallgirl:

While I'm an avid fan of the YouTube beauty community (various YouTubers giving beauty-related tips and tutorials on makeup, fashion, or skincare) I find the hauls a bit too materialistic. Especially if they're on expensive products. I don't really see the point of hauls, as I think they just encourage viewers to want similar items. What I don't mind watching is hauls that are less extravagant and more like deals. If the items were on sale, or a coupon was used in purchasing them, I enjoy watching them. I like seeing how money was saved in haul videos, rather than ones in which a large amount of money was spent.

I do think girls like Elle and Blair can go overboard with their obsession for beauty, as well as encourage other girls to do the same thing. I wonder exactly how positive of an influence these girls have over their viewers. If you notice, Elle has over 250k subscribers, while Blair has over 300k. I would think that if pre-teen girls were exposed to this over a long period of time, they might start comparing themselves with the sisters, which could have a negative impact on their self-esteem.