It might have been after hearing for the umpteenth time how someone launched a fledgling business financed by their trust fund, or watching friends’ Christmases on Instagram and discovering their sprawling country estates, their designer gifts and their swimming pools. They existed only on TV screens, or in the pages of my hoarded magazines. I would pore over shoplifted high-fashion publications in awe of the clothes and speechless at the price tags, spend countless hours watching series after series about privileged teens, and meticulously plot how to recreate my favourite high-fashion looks on a budget. I didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for myself because my life wasn’t the same as those of the people I admired – why would it be?
But my mum’s lack of income didn’t cause me to miss out on anything or prevent me from discovering the things I loved
It seemed impossibly glamorous to me, a teenager who spent her Friday nights drinking two-litre bottles of cider on the beach and shopping in Primark. It was always fairly obvious that my household didn’t have as much disposable income as some of those I grew up with – I didn’t go on the same holidays, dress in outfits from the same shops, or have the same cultural references drilled into me from childhood. OK, I wasn’t buying Prada or drinking champagne stolen from my parents’ drinks cabinet, but I found ways to get my hands on nearly everything I wanted, within reason.
I created workarounds for things I couldn’t afford, and saved for things that were impossible to talk my way into. I was convinced that money was not the only way to get what I wanted, nor the only way to garner respect. I never had much, but I was always sure of who I was and what I liked. Above all, I was absolutely sure that I had good taste – despite the fact that I often didn’t have the means to prove it. But when I moved to London, I inadvertently became one of the people I’d convinced myself were nothing more than fantasy – though without the connections, cash or confidence that ensured I would make it in the cut-throat world of fashion.
Who actually had a job or a rich enough family that saw them ferried around the major global city of their choice, buying whatever clothes they wanted and constantly attending events with open bars?
I didn’t go to private school, had not a single family member who followed a remotely similar path to mine, and would have never even heard of a trust fund if it wasn’t for Gossip Girl or The Hills. Though I grew up in a single-parent household, with a mum who relied on child tax credits and free school meals, by entering the magazine and publishing industry, I was always assumed to have come from money. As I stared at the people filling up the spaces I found myself in, I realised that they were nothing like the ones I grew up with. I was almost totally unaware that I was pining for acceptance in an industry that continues to only welcome the rich while being utterly obsessed with those who are poor.
“People who have been left on the outside naturally http://datingreviewer.net/nl/latinamericancupid-overzicht/ crave to be let in, and it’s difficult to trust in the power of our own ideas when they have been diminished for so long”
My confusion at ending up in rooms full of birthright millionaires most likely came from a mistaken belief that taste was innate rather than learnt. Growing up, I was encouraged to explore my sense of taste: to dye my hair garish colours that I would come to regret, to buy clothes that were the opposite of what everyone else around me was wearing, and to honestly be myself no matter the cost. I came to believe that taste was not a singular vision, but multiple splintering threads, and that even if you didn’t fit in with the majority of people, you’d eventually find a place filled with those whose taste matched yours. I didn’t believe in the moral superiority of liking the right things; I didn’t really understand or have any knowledge of the class system, and I thought that actively pushing against the things that everybody else liked was the most exciting thing in the world.