Acclaimed journalist Buzz Bissinger knew his clothes shopping habit had gotten out of hand. From 2010 to 2012, he figured he’d spent maybe $250,000 on clothing, most of it leather. When he did the math, though, the total added up closer to $600,000.
The word “shopaholic” tends to be associated with chick flicks, chick lit, and perhaps flighty celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. A dude from Philly known for writing about sports probably doesn’t enter the conversation.
Maybe that should change, though, considering that Buzz Bissinger, the author of Friday Night Lights who has also written high-profile stories (mostly sports-related) for Vanity Fair, TIME, and loads of other publications, has confessed to being a full-fledged shopping addict. He has confessed in very public fashion, excuse the pun, via a 6,000-word story just published by GQ. “I have an addiction,” Bissinger writes:
It isn’t drugs or gambling: I get to keep what I use after I use it. But there are similarities: the futile feeding of the bottomless beast and the unavoidable psychological implications, the immediate hit of the new that feels like an orgasm and the inevitable coming-down.
Bissinger says he wears leather every day of the year. His addiction also manifests itself in the form of 81 leather jackets (12 of them Gucci, including a $13,900 ostrich skin coat), 75 pairs of boots, 41 pairs of leather pants (one that cost $5,600), and 115 pairs of leather gloves, as well as a clothes-shopping tab totaling $587,412.97 for the years 2010 to 2012.
Bissinger traces his addiction back to three years ago, around the time that his youngest child left for college and his wife moved to Abu Dhabi for work. He also writes that he was living a “life of extreme repression,” and has been known to wear women’s clothing amid periods of confusion about sexuality and gender. “If the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then f****** wear it,” has become his mantra.
And why has he gone public? To hopefully “incite a remission and perhaps help others of similar compulsion,” Bissinger writes. In a statement to NBC News, he also mentions writing the piece for the purposes of “self-expression” and as a way to openly discuss “the damage that can be done by denying who you are”:
“I wrote it because it was the only way I knew of coming to terms and getting the help I am now getting. I have no regrets about what I wrote but I also have nothing to add. The story speaks for itself.”
What the story says is that shopping can be just as addictive as drugs or gambling, in which each fix is followed by more cravings. “You fool yourself at certain times into thinking that’s it and you have quenched the beast,” Bissinger writes. “But the beast is never conquered, and you don’t really want to conquer the beast anyway, until there is disaster. I wasn’t mainlining heroin, just impossibly gorgeous leather jackets and coats and boots and gloves and evening jackets.”
During a recent four-day, $51,000 shopping binge at a Gucci fashion show in Milan, Bissinger relates the neurotic, insecure ping-pong game going on inside his brain as models show off the new collection on the runway:
I have to have it. I don’t have to have it. I need it. I don’t need it. I can afford it. I can’t afford it. It is the cycle familiar to anyone who fetishizes high fashion. Still looking around at the crowd, noticing across the runway at least twenty-five attendees from China, the Wild West for high fashion, I feel the insecure contradiction of pride and self-doubt. I look good. I do belong, but briefs from Jockey are taking away a little edge: At least no one can see them. Everything else I am wearing—the jacket, the pants, the scarf, the boots—has been chosen in careful consultation with my sales associate at the Gucci flagship store in New York, whom I think of as the Divine Stylist, except for the Jockey shorts. I went out on a limb and chose those all by myself: I should have gone with Calvin Klein or nothing at all. My God, what was I thinking?
In the story, Bissinger writes that he now goes to therapy for shopping addiction and sex addiction. He has also released a statement noting that he has checked himself into rehab.