Bonjour mes amies! I plan to make this an entire series, because price shaming is real.
I was about fifteen years old the first time I ever felt this sense of shame.
I had worked all summer and dismissed the temptation to spend my small earnings on random teenage trinkets. Instead I saved for back to school shopping.
During my fifteen min. breaks at work, I would retrieve my Vogue and planner from my purse (oui mes amies, at fifteen I had a subscription to Vogue and a planner that I carried with me daily) to revisit my back to school list:
Black cashmere sweater (thrifted)
Furry pen (I was stilling paying homage to CLUELESS)
bebe rhinestone t-shirt
Two weeks prior to beginning my 10th grade year, I called Amtrak to purchase a business class train ticket from Va. to D.C. Oui mes amies, at fifteen years of age, I had a bank account, debit card and was fully aware that I wanted to upgrade from Coach.
I used my planner to prepare the entire weekend away.
I was set to arrive at Union Station by Amtrak at 12:05pm (there were only two departure times from the small town I went to high school in.) With my thrifted leather overnight bag, I would take the Metro to Pentagon City Mall before arriving at my Grandmere’s house on Capitol Hill.
When I arrived at Pentagon City Mall I made my way to the third floor. The mannequins that tempted shoppers to enter bebe were adorned in bandage party dresses and leather moto jackets.
I knew exactly how much the bejeweled logo t-shirt was that I longed to purchase. I’d used my $25 calling card from 7/Eleven (thats how I kept in-touch avec mes amies and family in DC) to phone the boutique and confirm the price prior to my arrival.
I went straight to the folded shirts, selected my black fitted t-shirt with silver rhinestones, and made my way to the cashier.
Sales associate: $27.05
Moi: *Gleefully hands over Visa Debit Card.* Voila!
Sales associate: ID?
Moi: *Hands over 9th grade high school ID.* Voila!
Once my card was accepted and I received my shopping bag, I took an extra lap around the mall so everyone could see my tres grande bebe bag. The shop was out of small shopping bags so the SA gave me the largest in stock.
After I took my last lap, I boarded the metro back to Union Station. My Grandmere’s house was blocks away.
When I arrived to my Grandmere’s, I gave hugs and greetings to my family and proceeded to show them what I had purchased.
*Older Cousin untucks tag from shirt.”
“You paid how much for this shirt? You could feed a family in Haiti for a week with that.”
I hung my head in shame and I didn’t show anyone else the bebe shirt that I was so excited about purchasing for remainder of my trip.
When I returned to Va. and prepped for my first day of school, I looked at my prized bebe shirt and felt so guilty. I began to look around my room at all of the “frivolous” things that consumed me. Like the top shelf of my closet, which was filled with Vogue and Lucky magazines. Shame.
Or the collage I made with double C’s, LVs and CD (Christian Dior) logos that wrapped the molding of my bedrooms ceiling instead of wallpapered boarders. Shame.
With all of the struggles of the world, I was spending my time creating shopping lists and lusting about drinking café in Paris. I was in the French club after all.
Everything around me seemed to mock my “frivolous” interest.
Every commercial that aired on TV was about abused animals or hungry children.
I couldn’t catch a (shame free) break.
It was at that moment that I created a master plan.
I would enroll to donate $5 a month to PBS (my favorite channel) and that would offset the guilt of my expensive desires.
I thought that would be enough to ease my “frivolous” teenage soul. Instead I found myself feeling the need to disclose my charitable contributions every time I wore the beloved bebe shirt or my Louis Vuitton backpack and Gucci watch. Oui mes amies, I had a Louis Vuitton backpack and Gucci watch in high school.
I assumed that these rude statements about how much I spent on an item were wholly related to my very young age.
If only I could have seen the (fashion) future.
The comments and treatment would only get ruddier the older (and gaudier) I became.
I’ll be discussing the perils of my spending/shopping habits throughout my 20s and 30s and the external shame that tagged along with the hefty price tags, in Part Deux.
Is there a specific question that you would like for me to address?
Have you experienced this form of price shaming?
Ciao for now!