Judging What We Don’t Know: The Intangible Value of Status Symbols

If you, like Errol Louis, have trouble comprehending the logic behind a "not-filthy-rich" person buying a $2,500 purse because you would never want that yourself, I'll put it into language you can understand.

Poverty, Presentability, and Expensive Handbags

"Why do poor people make stupid, illogical decisions to buy status symbols? For the same reason all but only the most wealthy buy status symbols, I suppose. We want to belong. And, not just for the psychic rewards, but belonging to one group at the right time can mean the difference between unemployment and employment, a good job as opposed to a bad job, housing or a shelter, and so on. Someone mentioned on twitter that poor people can be presentable with affordable options from Kmart. But the issue is not about being presentable. Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege. It’s the aging white hippie who can cut the ponytail of his youthful rebellion and walk into senior management while aging black panthers can never completely outrun the effects of stigmatization against which they were courting a revolution. Presentable is relative and, like life, it ain’t fair."

Not About Miley

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay about the black women on stage with Miley Cyrus and black women’s bodies is really powerful and I must insist that you read it. (“Cyrus’ dancers look more like me than they do Rihanna or Beyonce or Halle Berry. The difference is instructive.”)