Yes, You Can Buy Happiness

With products that target ‘90s nostalgia, a writer makes a case for purchasing some peace of mind

Watching Selena Quintanilla per­form in the early ’90s was, for me, a religious experience. Her thick, brown hair formed a halo as she danced onstage singing “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” beaming into my living room with that magnetic smile and signature bedazzled bra—which I tried to replicate, although I had yet to reach puberty.

She was a popular Mexican- American Tejano singer from Corpus Christi, Texas. I was an 11-year-old immigrant from Iran living in Los Angeles and navigating an identity crisis. Witnessing her seamlessly blend dual cultures, in music and style, helped me come to terms with who I wanted to be. Though Selena died young—shot by a friend in 1995—her legacy helps me re­member who I had been: a shy junior high schooler who took comfort in creating distance from the outside world in order to recover from it. Listening to Selena now, I’m taken back to my childhood room, where I wrote bad poetry in my journal and choreographed dance routines to her songs, safe from anyone’s judg­ment but my own.

When MAC Cosmetics recently debuted their Selena-inspired col­lection, I was ecstatic to have a tan­gible way of revisiting my youth. The limited-edition products bearing the names of her hits—like a dirty cherry red lipstick called “Como La Flor”—come in royal purple packaging stamped with Selena’s signature, and sold out the day they debuted.

This was more than makeup. The cosmetics brought me back to a time when my world was more intimate and less contrived. They offered a reprieve from the ca­lamitous 24-hour news cycle and extended virtual audiences that have come to construct my real­ity, and thus my constant anxiety. I could mentally relocate, if only momentarily, for a price.

Sixteen years after the new millennium, the ’90s have been revived in everything from food to film to fashion. Capitalizing on a generation that’s prone to “early onset nostalgia,” according to Ja­mie Gutfreund of global marketing agency Deep Focus, brands are seizing the moment and peddling millennials’ childhood back to them, to extremely profitable effect. Jurassic World’s 2015 premiere, 22 years after Jurassic Park became a cult classic, broke global box office records raking in over $500 mil­lion. Pokémon burst back onto the scene via an ingenious app-based makeover, becoming, yet again, a cultural phenomenon. Friends of mine scrambled to buy tickets to the “MY2K” reunion tour featur­ing former boy band sensation 98 Degrees, and MTV Classic arrived in the summer, bringing back pro­gramming from its heyday. For the first time in years, I was signing up for cable and coaxing my feet into a pair of jelly sandals.

The compulsion to cocoon ourselves in the warmth of nostalgia is deeper than clever marketing tactics or the cyclical nature of trends. These goods and entertainment offer real-time access to the safe space of our youth, the ability to re-experience the actual things that rooted us in that time. We aren’t just buying back childhood—we’re buying back something our digital lifestyles have robbed us of: the ability to reflect. It’s a coping mechanism in a world that’s changing too fast, a world that feels wholly unstable. Life feels ambiguous, frightening even.

Unlike our parents, who experi­enced a slow burn when it came to technology, and the current genera­tion, who can’t recall a time when we weren’t constantly plugged in— millennials are perpetually stuck in the middle. We can easily navigate the incessant stream of informa­tion, but we also remember when free time meant venturing outside, teenage affection was demonstrat­ed through a mix CD, and delivered goods took up to 28 days to reach us. We are the last generation to remember life before the internet consumed us, the ones who could turn it off simply by disconnecting the phone line.

We’ve also come of age during a time when achieving success through hard work hasn’t really held up. After inheriting a crumbling economy and finding it increasingly difficult to participate in the great American Dream milestone of home ownership, the urge to transport ourselves back to carefree adolescence feels natural.

We’re in a bit of a cultural purgatory, but by purchasing the past, and incorporating it into the present, our foundations stabilize. When Selena died, I was devastated. I felt like a piece of myself disappeared along with her. It may sound trivial, but applying the MAC x Selena wine-red “Dreaming of You” lipstick makes me feel a little more human, a little less machine. I’ll happily spend $18 for a portal into palpability, a chance to remember my younger self and look into a real mirror, instead of a virtual one.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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