By Arielle E. and Roxanne G.
Suburbia, and NOT the city, is where cool fashion begins.
First, let’s talk about why suburbia sucks, and then I’ll explain how the suckiness of suburbia makes for cool fashion.
Everyone around me has a stick up their ass
Middle class conformity begins with middle-class insecurity. Most of the middle-class suburbanites act like they’re one bad move away from becoming Trailer Trash, either because they ARE Trailer Trash (my family) or because they’re either one generation removed from or one bad move to becoming Trailer Trash. That’s why everyone has a stick up their ass about this and that and everything. Anything that hints of trailer trash must be avoided at all times. Which makes everyone look and act like…Suburban Trash.
The bulges in their parents’ wallet determines their class and popularity
Doesn’t matter if Tiffany’s dad robs the elderly with high pressure sales tactics or Heather’s step-dad seduces young and impressionable young men with network marketing scams or Toby’s dad is an ambulance chaser. If they have money, they’re considered part of the suburban upper class, regardless of their taste, job, and character. The ones with money think they’re sophisticated when they’re just burlesque versions of Kim Kardashian, who herself is a burlesque version of Liz fucking Taylor. No wonder there are so many bimbos in suburbia.
Pretentious. Assholes. Everywhere.
Well if the popular kids are doing burlesque, guess what everyone else is doing? Burlesque!
I was the poor kid so I was the target of everyone’s bullying.
If you weren’t doing burlesque or were bad at it, which was the case for the poorest kids, then you were bullied. The Suburban Caste System is reinforced daily because the suburbs aren’t supposed to have poor people. It’s supposed to be idyllic, which is why people move here in the first place. Except it isn’t, a lot of people are struggling to maintain appearances.
I was taught by those around me – including my own mom- to fake it like we were well off, that everything was ok. But that was bullshit. I didn’t like spewing bullshit. It made me feel nasty inside.
This isn’t “faking it till you make it.” In the world of suburban burlesque, it’s about “faking it till everyone gets sick of the stupid act.” This stupid act made me even more aware of being poorer than those around me, which made me angrier at myself not just for being poor, but for pretending *to not be poor.* And it’s this stupid act, not the state of being poor or whatever, that tears families apart. Everyone around me either is or is going crazy.
Suburbanites, in their expectation for the idyllic, aren’t prepared for the kind of diversity of experiences expected in cities because they’re not expecting it. When weird shit happens, their impulse is to either deny it ever happened or make a big deal out of nothing and get offended about stupid shit. And that’s precisely why suburbanites are a special type of crazy — “batshit crazy” as my editor puts it.
And it’s that brand of crazy, that arises from an uncanny expectation for that spirit crushing, outlandish, total conformity of manners and fashion, is what spurs creative fashion. Oppression, not freedom, is the necessary condition for creativity. And when you grow up with this much bullshit, you either conform — ie. you die — or you figure out how to break out. Sure, cool cities like San Francisco and NYC get credit for all the cool fashion that starts in the suburbs but that’s because they have the power to legitimize, which is not the same as doing the creative work suburban teens have quietly been doing.
If Suburban White Trash is what happens when suburbanites pretend they’re ideal suburbanites but are in fact White Trash putting up a ridiculous act when they arrive in the suburbs to seek a new life, then Suburban White Trash is a big fucking movement that we should pay attention to. This is a layer of American life that’s been ignored for too long. At the Privileged Poor, we’re going to figure out what it means to be Suburban White Trash and how they’re influencing the American cultural landscape.