Your pillow has no soul: The harrowing emptiness of decorative accents, and the ensuing existential angst

You’ve found the perfect throw pillow. It’s brocade, it’s red, it will perfectly match the living-room couch. It’s a bit expensive, at $50.

And then you realize it’s nothing but an empty shell. If you want a pillow inside that will cost you an extra $35. Congratulations. You just bought a pillow with no pillow. Would you like a pillow for your pillow, to go inside your pillow?

We are living in an epidemic of empty pillow covers.

But why?

When you go shopping for a comforter or duvet, why is it that most stores now offer the shriveled, emptied skeins of duvets, charging as much as $300 at Macy’s for a store-brand “duvet cover”? Are we all assumed to have ideal naked pillows and stripped-down comforters that we’ll never part with, or is this a big price game? You fall in love with a comforter out of your price range, and then you realize you’ve got to buy its insides too. Otherwise, what you have there is a fancy-pants sheet. A two-part sheet.

I blame Build-A-Bear Workshop, that ’90s-origin horror show of a toy shop in which you buy the droopy, unstuffed exoskeleton of a stuffed bear, and then you stuff it with a bizarro reverse popcorn machine that inserts filling through the ursine rectum. (If you haven’t seen this thing, you don’t understand.)

I recall watching gleeful, savage children as the disembodied bears were spun and stuffed through with a reverse enema of fiberfill than no God-fearing citizen should have to witness. (I’m pretty sure Buffalo Bill finally has his woman suit, and he bought it at Build-A-Bear.) Those vacant, dead-eyed stuffies put us on the road to hollow pillows.

Does the average American shopper read descriptions well enough to know that what is being purchased is not a pillow, but rather a fancy cover for a pillow? Is this bona-fide false advertising? I should add that not one of these pillow covers in the photos is in fact photographed in its unstuffed state. Online they’re always plumped out, with the pillow parts inside, as if they are being sold this way by the retailer.

Have you purchased something like this, only to learn later that the purchase necessitated one more purchase? Are you more likely to buy a certain pillow if you learn that you will in fact receive an intact pillow? Has your child recently purchased a Halloween costume, only to learn that it doesn’t actually come with a sword, gloves, mask, or pants?

Do you actually prefer buying pillows that do not contain the actual pillow? Does anyone, anywhere, have a stockpile of naked couch pillows that simply need some dressing up? (Some of the offending empty-pillow hawkers are Pottery Barn, West Elm, Target, Macy’s, Birch Lane and Grandin Road. Remember to read those item descriptions carefully. No more empty pillow shells.)

Vent here, a few inches down the page. That’s what the space is for.

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