Why do women love to shop? To show off to other women, of course

How many of you girls can honestly say that you have never tried to sneak shopping in under your partner's nose?

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A friend’s recent status update on Facebook made me laugh out loud. This friend is notorious for lengthy status updates where he names and shames. I have so far escaped his razor-sharp wit and tongue (maybe that’s why I can enjoy these updates), but other people have not been quite so fortunate.

In his most recent lashing, he talks about a female acquaintance (who, for once, he doesn’t name) whom he bumped into at one of the clothes exhibitions last weekend. When she noticed him taking note of the many, many things she had purchased, she ordered him to not mention any of it on his infamous Facebook status updates, especially not with her namebecause her husband had no idea what she was up to.

What amused me was that this could have been any one of the dozens of women I myself saw at the exhibition, all lugging around more merchandise than they could gracefully carry, items that would definitely be stealthily stashed away at home.

Oh, come on now, we’ve all been there and done that. How many of you girls reading this can honestly say that you have never tried to sneak your shopping in under your partner’s nose and then, when he has remarked on some new item of clothing you’re wearing, haven’t replied: “Oh, what? This old thing? I’ve had it for ages!”

Guilty as charged, right?

I chalked up another such incident this weekend when I took my mother out for her birthday/ Mother’s Day shopping treat. By the end of the day, it was quite obvious that the whole thing was just an elaborate ruse for me to buy more shoes. Eight pairs, to be precise. I already own close to 100 pairs of shoes, so you would think that there cannot possible exist a shoe in a style or colour that I didn’t already have. But do I have bright yellow loafers? Do I have peep-toe stiletto pumps in a matt-black, leather finish? All eight pairs were perfectly justified and perfectly hidden once I got home.

What is it with women and shopping? There is one theory about this whole why-women-love-shopping conundrum that kind of makes sense: our ancient female ancestors – way back when people were hunters and gatherers – were responsible for gathering food. Their DNA was wired in a way that would help them enjoy every aspect of gathering – of which socialising was a big part. While our female ancestors gathered berries, their descendants tend to gather Burberrys. The science behind both is apparently the same.

If you don’t buy into that theory, here’s another one (and I swear this time it’s backed by some serious research). A study conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management suggested that women who were ovulating were more likely to spend money on nice clothes than women differently placed along their monthly cycle.

But all these details are irrelevant. What interested me the most was this: the researchers concluded that women buy items not to make themselves more attractive to males but to gain an edge over other females.

So if we put the two theories together, can we conclude that us women are hard-wired to spend time “gathering” in the company of other women – and that we do this so we can show off to these very same women?

No wonder we’re so confused.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai