recently, i came across a blog post by a fashion blogger i’d describe by saying i respect and admire her. i visit her blog on occasion, she’s been around for years and has got a big readership. she’s stylish, gorgeous, and touches on political issues on a relatively regular basis, mostly around fat politics. this recent post was talking about buying herself a new pair of heels. she didn’t name the price, but said they were a gift to herself. this was worthy of note since she does receive free items from brands from time to time (and is always up front about it). i thought they looked really good, liked them enough to google them…
and found out they retail for nearly a thousand dollars.
and then i felt ill.
i’m not linking to the post or shoes in question because this isn’t (really) about that. it’s more about my own questions about wealth and fashion.
after finding out how much those shoes retail for (and assuming she paid close to that much money on them) i thought about all the other ways i would choose to spend that money. the things i could do, the things i could buy. i wondered if there would ever be a day where i could drop that much cash on a pair of shoes or a piece of clothing and not bat an eyelash. i wondered if that was something i could ever imagine aspiring to.
then, i remembered the time i worked in factories, feverishly trying to get through those first two 12-hour shifts to be able to pay for the steel-toed boots i had to wear to work there. i thought about wearing expensive sky-high heels. i thought about (dis)comfort, excess, luxury, decadence. i thought about what this made me assume about her, about her bank account, about her life and her priorities.
i don’t mean this to be a pity party for broke fashion lovers OR a shame women who drop serious cash on material goods! post. i’m mostly just thinking out loud and wondering about these fucked up feelings…
which leads me to my next question: has anyone written about this? have you read anything online or in journals about finding a balance between having been poor and/or anti-capitalist and then hating yourself for those feelings of envy and resentment?
i mean, i’ve written about thrifting as fun, environmentally-friendly/”green” (whatever the fuck that means today) and satisfying - but fuck! i thrifted because i had to. because if i wanted a closet filled with variety i had to go to by-the-pound places, not because i “wanted” to. because if i wanted to dress in a way i felt reflected my identity, and if that’s what i wanted, i had to buy my own clothes at thrift stores, not at the mall. because back when i was a teenager, one of the meanest insults you could throw at a kid was “where’d you get your clothes, the salvation army?” because i never felt poor enough when i was poor, because i would still “waste money” on clothes instead of the “necessities” like rent and food. because i’d feel guilty for spending 20 bucks on clothes in a month, and then jealous when i browsed online fashion communities where girls (this was before the era of “haul” videos) would post photos of the three or four dresses they bought at high-end american retail stores. what a bundle of contradictions.
part of me is wanting to negotiate between that extreme individualism that can be so omnipresent in fashion culture (i do what i want, i wear what i want, i buy what i want) and the destiny’s child “independent women” school of thought (the shoes on my feet/i bought it/the clothes i’m wearing/i bought it!)… contrasted with this idea that your clothing (what it looks like/how emotionally or financially invested you are in it) reflects your identity, your politics, your life in some way.
trying to weed out what about that is jealousy, what about that is my hatred of capitalism, and what about that is internalized class war (once a broke ass penny-pincher, always a penny-pincher).