This Black Friday, Say “No” To Haul Videos


Each November, Mariah Carey ushers in the holiday season with her signature whistle notes and ever-viral Christmas anthem. Grocery shops and pharmacies, radio stations and Spotify playlists, and even TikToks welcome the most wonderful time of the year to the sounds of “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But before Christmas comes Thanksgiving, and with it the arrival of yet another Black Friday, and, in this URL era, Cyber Monday. This is the most wonderful time of the year for shopaholics everywhere, those who bask in the glory of vertiginous discounts, pretend not to notice their credit card balances, and find joy in lenient return policies (for those unwanted items you bought under self-inflicted pressure). 

With great deals come great haul videos, the social media phenomenon first made popular by fashion-adjacent YouTubers in the first half of the 2010s, now reimagined by TikTok and Instagram creators who shop mountains of items in the name of #content. But a decade after the first few videos were posted on YouTube, what started as an innocent genre meant to convey excitement has deteriorated into a toxic culture that promotes overshopping and overspending. And while I’m in no position to be holier-than-thou when it comes to enjoying the bizarre, magnetizing quality of product “Try On” or “Unboxing” clips, this Black Friday I propose we say no to haul videos and mindless shopping, and opt for (and I’m well aware I sound like all our mothers here) sensible, considerate spending. 

We’ve somehow gone from endearing “Sephora Haul :) Trying on My Favorite New Products” clips to questionable “HUGE [insert fast fashion brand here] TRY ON HAUL / AD” posts (“ad” for “advertisement,” of course).

While I could spend most of my word count and your screen time expanding on the damaging effects of hauls (all that useless packaging and shipping for items you’re buying and returning?), I’d rather use our time together arguing in favor of buying less and better. After all, why are hauls proliferating at a time when we’re supposed to become more sensible with our shopping? 

This is not a rant about not shopping on Black Friday (where’s the fun in that?), but about shopping for only those things you need–as in necessity, as in can’t imagine your life without. I’ve found that the older I get, the less I shop. Maybe it’s because my style has finally landed on a manageable spectrum, or because I’ve become more precious about the things I keep in my home and put on my body, but there’s something truly wonderful about embracing the “we have food at home” energy our moms used to repeat when we wanted them to buy us McDonald’s on the drive home. Buying less doesn’t mean don’t treat yourself, it just means treat yourself to things you really want, not things the internet has convinced you you have to have. Buying better doesn’t mean only buying luxury, or spending money you don’t have on items merchandised as higher quality or more sustainable, it’s a mindset that hinges on making the better choice, on buying things you’ll get good wear out of, things you’ll keep around and treasure, no matter the price. 

So maybe this Black Friday, swipe away from that temptation-inducing haul video, and instead try to shop for the things you know you want. My advice is, if you’re less excited about buying it and more concerned about the “but what if I regret it,” then it’s probably not worth it. Not to go all Carrie Bradshaw on you, but I’ve learned that shopping is kind of like dating; if you don’t feel it from the start, you probably won’t get into it later on. (And no, you can’t “I’ll just return it” your way out of this, you and I both know you won’t make your way to the post office with that package.)

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