In this article:
- On top of all the other challenges that come with being poor, you also have to deal with being judged for the things you do to survive or make life a little more bearable.
- From relying on government aid to wearing family hand-me-downs, it’s almost like everything you do betrays your class and makes you the target of criticism.
- Meanwhile, when rich people do the exact same things are just seen as frugal or eccentric.
- Welfare, small houses, and hand-me-down stuff are just a few of the poor people things that are trashy if you’re broke, but cool if you’re rich.
Being poor is tough enough on its own. The seemingly endless dilemma of not having enough money to go around means that you’re always one emergency room trip away from crippling debt.
The idea of not having to eat ramen for dinner every night seems like a life you can only have in an alternate dimension. Meanwhile, the billionaire who owns the warehouse where you work doesn’t just make a living wage — he’s wealthy enough that it would take you 2.8 million years to earn what he has now.
That’s an economic gap so wide it should become the next go-to “yo mama” insult for salty 12-year-old gamers.
But before you think you have nothing in common with the 1%, check out these poor people things you already do that you get snubbed for, but are just seen as “lifestyle choices” for the rich and powerful.
The Poor People Things That Are Trendy and Cool When Rich People Do Them
1. Tiny Houses vs. Trailer Homes
Has anyone ever called you a bum? How about a lazy [insert racial slur]? Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of the equally offensive “white trash.”
Whichever it is, you’ve come across a few people who treat you with disgust because you can’t get on the property ladder. But whatever, right? You have a roof over your head and a warm bed to sleep in every night. Who cares if it’s small?
That said, you wouldn’t get so much flak if your trailer home had no wheels and was located in the backyard of your parents’ massive estate.
Make no mistake: The tiny house movement is nothing like the trashy trailer park you live in. Unlike us peasants, the wealthy residents of tiny homes choose to live the way they do because it’s an eco-friendly and minimalist lifestyle.
The difference between them and our sorry selves is that they have a choice and we don’t.
The equation goes like this: rich + small house = HGTV. But if it’s poor + small house, then your best bet is getting featured in a news report about food stamps.
Oh, have we mentioned the earth house movement? So environmentally conscious. So innovative. It totally has nothing in common with African mud huts.
2. Day Drinking vs. “Brunch”
Contrary to popular belief, alcoholism is socially acceptable. But only if you’re rich.
If you’re a homeless person drinking from a flask as a means of momentary escape from the crushing depression that comes with being trapped in a catch-22 situation of needing a job to be able to afford rent while not being able to get a job because you don’t have an address, congratulations! You’re an alcoholic bum who’s nothing but a burden on society.
Don’t you know drinking on the curb is so passé?
If you want to be seen as a productive member of society who’s just out for a good time, you need to do your day drinking in a restaurant.
Call the girls over to meet you for brunch and order something healthy. How about a lovely casserole made with a grain that used to be poor people’s food in Bolivia before you discovered its amazing health properties?
Enjoy mimosas and quinoa with your similarly well-off friends while driving price hikes in the grain’s country of origin, leaving the original consumers priced out of their staple grain.
3. Receiving Financial Aid From the Government
Everybody hates freeloaders unless you’re the kind of filthy rich that LinkedIn “thought leaders” — that’s white-collar talk for “influencer” — post motivational quotes about.
When you’re that rich, you become so self-made that you get an entire mythos around you that completely ignores the fact that you come from a privileged background and had connections no average Joe could hope to have.
Plus, you’ll sometimes get your quotes pasted over pictures of lions.
With PR that good, everyone just forgets your company is one of the many corporations who got to enjoy a $4 trillion government bailout. That’s enough money for you to afford to put up a “We’re Hiring!” tarp outside your workplace but not enough to actually pay your employees a living wage.
But now you have a new problem: No one wants to work. Why does no one want to work? Are they living off their savings? Are they receiving money gifts from their rich parents? Nope! It’s all those government handouts.
Financial aid is to blame for the labor shortage. Seriously, we need to stop letting our taxes go to supporting other citizens. Tax money should go to billionaires, not lazy Millenials who refuse to work.
4. Questionable Fashion Choices
It’s time for everybody’s favorite game show: hobo or hipster?
When it comes to fashion choices, there seems to be some, ahem, slight discrimination about what looks good and what doesn’t.
Now, before you get offended, I’m no stranger to wardrobe experimentation. There are always new, fresh ways to style clothes that don’t fit into the current mainstream. But depending on your economic status, that kind of fashion-forward thinking can either be interpreted as bold or in “bad taste.”
But then again, maybe there is no such thing as “bad taste” because when you think about it, most of the things we consider unfashionable and tacky are just things that aren’t associated with the upper class.
Remember thrift stores? People used to look down on you if they knew you shopped secondhand, but that was before upper middle-class Gen Z and Millenials started buying “vintage” pieces from their local Goodwill.
5. Being Deranged vs. Being Eccentric
Being an eccentric rich person is such a classic trope in fiction that it has its own dedicated TV Tropes entry, the Eccentric Millionaire.
As long as you have enough money, you’re never considered weird or a danger to society. Everyone just shakes their head at your endearingly strange habits as they accept another $100 bill that you casually gave them.
Eccentricity doesn’t seem to quite put people off of you if you have the right amount of money. If you happen to be the creative type, your potentially self-endangering habits might even be seen as a manifestation of your “creative genius.”
Not in the mood for being seen as an eccentric rich person? Why not be someone people look up to instead? Pop culture never seems to stop its long-running love affair with the shamelessly brash billionaire archetype.
Often depicted as male, this character comes off as cool and badass to the audience even though it’s obvious that their genius relies heavily on the functional adults around them. Case in point: Tony Stark from Iron Man.
Enough money also means you can look cool to internet dudebros. After all, no one remembers your shady labor practices if the public remembers you as an eccentric billionaire.
6. Unusual Baby Names
Have I mentioned you can also get away with giving kids a weird name?
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration because when Elon Musk and Grimes came out with their 2020 hit single “X Æ A-12,” they found themselves on the receiving end of robot jokes and AI memes.
Though the former couple is now “semi-separated,” it’s going to be a while before the internet forgets that their kid’s name could easily be the name of an in-development Tesla project. Maybe we commoners just don’t get it, but one thing’s for sure: You’d get a lot more crap for having a “ghetto” name than you would for being called North West.
If you happen to be unlucky enough to be among the few who have a name closer to Souzenne and La-a than Payton and Kayleigh, you can have the honor of being among the people considered to have a “trashy name.”
The best part? Your trashy name might even be illegal in some places. Throw in creative spellings with unnecessary uses of “h”, “z”, and “k” for extra “trashy” vibes that can turn even the most neutral, classic names into something judgy recruiters will toss your resume over.
Just how bad is name discrimination? According to a study conducted by economists from the University of California, Berkley and the University of Chicago, a “bad” name results in 10% fewer calls from employers compared to people with more, ahem, tasteful names.
The “bad” names are the kinds that would typically get slapped with the “ghetto” label, like Jamal and Lakisha, while supposedly normal names included non-ghetto (read: white) names like Emily or Greg.
The more customer-facing a job was, the more discriminatory its recruiters would be.
7. Eating Exotic Meats
Full disclosure: I have a personal bone to pick with this one because I’m Asian. If you come from an Asian background, or any culture with more varied cuisine, you might be familiar with the mixture of shame and rage that comes with hearing people talk badly about your food.
It wouldn’t be bad if they had actually tried it but given how these things usually go, it’s always the ones who would never try anything other than mac and cheese who will say that.
If you’re cooking snails in a rural village in India, some people will see it as bizarre or “unhygienic” — the go-to word of disgusted YouTube comments on Asian street food videos. But eat your snails paired with wine in a sit-down restaurant and suddenly it’s “classy” and “refined.”
For the Native Americans out there, you might have some experiences with your cuisine getting the “yuck” treatment for making use of internal organs. Yet no one seems to bat an eye at eating foie gras?
It’s not really surprising how a higher price tag makes food more appealing when you think about how lobster went from peasant food to upper class delicacy after it was picked up by the one-percenters.
8. Hand Me Downs vs. Heirloom Items
Here’s one last thing that’s only cool if you’re rich but is just seen as sad when you’re poor: using hand-me-downs.
If you grew up poor, chances are that you’ve had to use your fair share of hand-me-downs.
Depending on how many older siblings you have, the chances of getting your dad’s beaten-up coat instead of a new one becomes more likely. Unless, of course, there’s nothing left of the hand me down by the time it’s supposed to be passed on to you.
Could the clothes that your parents passed on to you be considered vintage pieces? Maybe. But they’ve often gone through so much that all the heavy use renders them worthless. Besides, all the potential prestige of wearing your older family members’ clothes fades away when you’re being bullied and scoffed at for not having enough to buy new clothes.
If you’re from a wealthier background though, everything old becomes an “heirloom” or an “antique.”
No one looks at you weird for wearing your grandmother’s dress when it’s a post-war Dior. Plus, being born to a well-off family often means you actually get to see your great aunt’s pearls because they weren’t pawned to pay loan sharks when you were a kid.
Being on extreme ends of the socioeconomic hierarchy might even mean that the most expensive thing you own is an old car. Poor? It’s probably a car from the 80s that’s on the verge of falling apart. Rich? It’s likely great granddad’s classic Aston Martin that still looks like fresh off the assembly line.
Sometimes, it really is just wealth that makes the difference between trashy and classy.