chapter  11
14 Pages

Little luxuries

Decency, deservingness and delight
WithRussell Belk

Nail polish, along with lipstick, makeup and hair care, are all ‘little luxuries’ that enjoyed sales booms during the Depression. They are affordable luxuries that can lift spirits and self-esteem even in the bleakest of times. Some people desire these ‘luxuries’ so much that they sacrifice ‘necessities’ in order to achieve them. A key context for potentially delightful little luxuries is the realm of gifts – both gifts from others and gifts to ourselves. Self-gifts are not routine everyday purchases. The role of consumption in defining, reinforcing and remembering identity is not limited to large possessions such as a home or an automobile. There are numerous everyday gifts that help stitch together the fabric of friendships and hold them together. Women give the majority of such gifts. With small self-gifts such as food, chocolate and beverages, there are no digital equivalents. In both old and new ways, the concept of little luxuries will survive.