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keeping up with the Joneses
September 1, 2014 6:28 PM   Subscribe

give me gratitude or give me debt
In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us. OH NO! NOW IT’S A SUBWAY TILE BACKSPLASH WE NEED! No, thank you. Life offers plenty of REAL emergencies to handle, thank you very much.

I’m a grown up now. I know what looks good on me, and that doesn’t change every three months. I know how I like my house. I like it cute and cozy and a little funky and I like it to feel lived in and worn and I like the things inside of it to work. That’s all. And for me - it’s fine that my house’s interior suggests that I might not spend every waking moment thinking about how it looks.

Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings. Producers of STUFF NEED to find 10,000 ways to make women feel less than about our clothes, kitchens, selves so that we will keep buying more. So maybe freeing ourselves just a little from the Tyranny of Trend is a women’s issue – because we certainly aren’t going to get much world changing done if we spend all of our time and money on wardrobe and kitchen changing.
more Momastery:
*share this with all the schools, please
*quit pointing your avocado at me
*a mountain I'm willing to die on (previously)
posted by flex (45 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yay, happy stuff!
posted by oceanjesse at 6:34 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Agree with most of what she is saying, but disagree that it's only a woman's issue; it's a human issue.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:40 PM on September 1 [9 favorites]


I love it when people keep up with the Joneses. Then I can buy their old stuff for cheap (or often just have it for free).
posted by miyabo at 6:42 PM on September 1 [24 favorites]


You mean the subway tile backsplash is a thing?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:49 PM on September 1


I've heard this same argument from folks with bad hygiene. Matter of degrees, I suppose.
posted by basicchannel at 6:50 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


...but disagree that it's only a woman's issue; it's a human issue.

Maybe, but as has been discussed before, women are primarily affected by 'style' requirements and fluctuations.
posted by Evilspork at 6:58 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


I liked the kitchen piece; good reminder that HGTV is not real life. The kitchen in our rental is old and a little scary (the floor peels in some corners) but is fully functional. Showed it to my husband (also an HGTV addict) and he countered (pun!) BUT HER KITCHEN IS NICE!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:03 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


I've heard this same argument from folks with bad hygiene. Matter of degrees, I suppose.

Hygiene and interior decoration are hardly equivalent.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:06 PM on September 1 [10 favorites]


To truly understand interior decoration we must understand nothingness, as Leucippus argued in the fifth century BC.
posted by mr. digits at 7:10 PM on September 1 [13 favorites]


Maybe, but as has been discussed before, women are primarily affected by 'style' requirements and fluctuations

And even more, the article is talking particularly about kitchen remodeling, a subject that is coded strongly feminine. Overconsumption and competitive display of consumer goods is absolutely a society-wide thing, but she is talking about a very particular aspect of it.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:12 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


> Along with their messages came pictures of how my kitchen could look, if I’d just put some effort and money into it.

"Here's what your face could look like, if I just put some effort and my fist into it."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:12 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


We mustn't dwell... no, not today. We CAN'T. Not on Rex Manning day.
posted by gwint at 7:12 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Oh, wait, wrong thread. OR IS IT.
posted by gwint at 7:13 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


The "share this with all the schools" link is amazing. Kudos to that teacher!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:14 PM on September 1 [6 favorites]


Is this the corny unhip future I have to look forward to as a parent? Because I am FULLY INTO IT.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:16 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer.

The hard-earned ability not to give a damn is a superpower indeed.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:19 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


It is like the JETSONS up in here. Rosie would be good company. Also, Ruh-roh Rorge.
posted by theora55 at 7:23 PM on September 1


The loneliness detector is interesting, but wouldn't she notice who's lonely anyway, and wouldn't having the kids do a weekly popularity contest also contribute to the problem?
posted by michaelh at 7:25 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Potomac, that blogger says every awful thing we parents think about, but out loud. Refreshing to hear someone else worrying about the same things. Pretty much at the "I am Groot" phase here, and it works for now. Groot won't really help until things are dire and then he's all over it. And that is kind of what you have to be after children reach a certain age. Not there, and then so there. It's horrible and hard to be Groot. But my son reminds me every night since we saw that movie that I am, and must remain- Groot. It's an awesome responsibility. Yeah- you gonna lose some hipness and turn into an Ent or something.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:32 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


>The loneliness detector is interesting, but wouldn't she notice who's lonely anyway

classroom social dynamics =/= real social dynamics, especially with so much taking place online these days.

-and wouldn't having the kids do a weekly popularity contest also contribute to the problem?

The kids don't see the direct results of the voting, and (I assume) the teacher fudges the results anyway.
posted by DGStieber at 7:36 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

Oooh, so the opposite of my third-grade teacher, who found out who was being bullied and piled on in the hopes that she could just make them behave "properly."

not that I'm bitter or anything
posted by BungaDunga at 7:40 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


I'd just like to say I hate granite countertops.
posted by srboisvert at 8:01 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


The teacher places the lonely kids with friendly kids so they'll gain friends and allies. She wouldn't have been doing it since Columbine if it was making their situations worse.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:09 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


I have an ex-coworker aquaintance who makes more than I do and has far more newer, fancier stuff than I do, but his main social circle includes lots of people even wealthier than he is, so he's constantly struggling to keep up with them. He has a huge house he can't afford, goes on vacations and cruises he can't afford, throws parties he can't afford, and seems to live in fear of not fitting in with their lifestyle. I pity him.
posted by rocket88 at 8:18 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


Rocket88, i'm standing right here, man.
posted by maxwelton at 9:00 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


So if someone's wife hypothetically wanted subway tile in their kitchen, what would be better: plucky DIY or socially-aware paying someone else to do it so as to keep the local economy groovin'? And not doing it's not an option, because that painted plaster wall behind the cooktop is hard to keep clean and hygienic... hypothetically.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:07 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


And even more, the article is talking particularly about kitchen remodeling, a subject that is coded strongly feminine.

This is not my experience. Kitchen remodeling thoroughly crosses gender lines in the high-income middle class. It's honestly hards to legitimately remodel a kitchen because holy cow people will tell you how reasonable it is to go buy a slab of $5K Italian marble for countertops etc. I just need a countertop that's not warping at the seams.

That said, there's not even anything wrong with this kitchen. It's a tiny bit dated I guess but it's in good shape and seems pretty functional. But who emails a person at random and tells them some photo of their kitchen on their blog need fixing? What the hell people?
posted by GuyZero at 9:28 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


How dorky is it that I really like the word "perspectacles"?
posted by ootandaboot at 9:33 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


Hey ootandaboot, I liked "perspectacles" too. There are at least two of us neologism admirers so we are first in a trend, and the others will have to keep up. Oh wait! Not keeping up is the message of the thread. Ignore firsties, and watch HGTV for laughs. Of course the remodeled place looks great when no one lives there.
posted by Cranberry at 11:05 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


The "share this with all the schools" link is lovely.
posted by Harald74 at 11:29 PM on September 1


In case anyone else is as far behind in interior decoration trends as I am - I had to google subway tile backsplash: Apparently it is something you put on your kitchen wall, not a secondary concern after third rail electrocution.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:01 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I'm guessing that most people installing "subway tile backsplashes" in their kitchens have never actually seen a subway outside of the movies.
posted by octothorpe at 4:34 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


So if someone's wife hypothetically wanted subway tile in their kitchen, what would be better: plucky DIY or socially-aware paying someone else to do it so as to keep the local economy groovin'?

Hypothetically, American Restoration Tile has awesome stuff and I've done two bathrooms with custom patterns.
posted by odinsdream at 4:57 AM on September 2


I'll admit that I did have a 1/2 hour conversation with a neighbor at the neighborhood holiday street party yesterday about kitchen remodeling. In my defence, we bought our house without a kitchen and have been living for the last seven years with the $1000 kitchen that I threw together over a weekend from Craig's List and the Sears scratch-and-dent warehouse. He's having the Amish come and build all the cabinets in this kitchen which is much cheaper but has a lot of logistical problems: they don't have phones, take only cash and will only negotiate with him and not his wife.
posted by octothorpe at 5:15 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


But the new butter churn is to die for!
posted by spitbull at 5:55 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


That was pretty sweet. I guess this lady doesn't spend as much time paging around through Pinterest as I do.

In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us. OH NO! NOW IT’S A SUBWAY TILE BACKSPLASH WE NEED! No, thank you. Life offers plenty of REAL emergencies to handle, thank you very much.

I’m a grown up now. I know what looks good on me, and that doesn’t change every three months. I know how I like my house. I like it cute and cozy and a little funky and I like it to feel lived in and worn and I like the things inside of it to work. That’s all. And for me - it’s fine that my house’s interior suggests that I might not spend every waking moment thinking about how it looks.


This is definitely one of the things I most associate with the concept of "grown up". As we Millenials are wont to do, I'm constantly trying to figure out if I'm grown up yet, but if this is the measure then I think I'm doing okay. I do spend a lot of time on Pinterest though.

The problem with this way of thinking is that you may decide that you know what you like, but that doesn't mean you can just go out and find it at the store whenever you decide you're due for an upgrade. At least in the world of affordable ladies' fashion you have to just kind of make do with what they're selling that week (oh, sheer pastels and midriff sweatshirts with exposed seams don't work for you? You can't wear bright yellow 5-inch heels to work?) or wait a few months. You have to get to a level of double-super-zen when you go to the store.
posted by bleep at 6:12 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I've heard this same argument from folks with bad hygiene. Matter of degrees, I suppose.

Uh, "bad hygiene" as in not shaving pubic hair or wearing antiperspirant or eschewing millennia old bathing practices?
posted by deathmaven at 7:53 AM on September 2


That's my secret, Cap. I've never been trendy.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 8:00 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I am something of a guilty HGTV/DIY Network addict (or at least in doses, a little bit of those channels goes a verrrrry long way) but I have to constantly remind myself how staged everything is, down to the fact that the shows aren't above switching out the "real" owners of homes to bring in fake young prospective buyer couples so that everyone who's featured as buyers aren't, oh, just a bit closer to retirement age than most people who actually watch the shows. And, also, I have to remind myself that the mantras of these shows (every single buyer wants an "open concept" living space) are geared to one thing only, and that's making you feel shitty about the hovel you live in and break out your wallet.
posted by blucevalo at 8:08 AM on September 2


I loved quit pointing your avocado at me--it sums up my feelings on the mommy wars pretty accurately. "Feeling judged by other people’s decisions is an insanely ego-centric way to live" made something click for me; I haven't thought about it that way before but it rings very true.
posted by iminurmefi at 8:10 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


This is a very dangerous idea. The only thing keeping the western economy afloat to the degree that it is afloat is massive over consumption. If people stop buying - and working themselves to death in order to do so - the whole system collapses.

We have long since passed the point where the primary economic problem we face is supply. We now live in a world where the problem is one of finding exploitable demand in order to generate usable wealth.

Admittedly, this future is particularly unevenly distributed, but we already live in a technologically driven post-scarcity world. The problem is that we, so far at least, have failed utterly to come up with an economic system that can effectively limit production to what people actually need and want, and can distribute the bounty of goods we produce to people in a way that satisfies their wants. (I wouldn't be surprised if this actually turns out to be the Fermi Paradox's Great Filter that keeps civilizations from expanding into space.)

Already people produce all kinds of weird crap - overconsuming natural resources and trashing the environment in the process - not because there's an existing demand for the product, but because they need a way to participate in the economy. People need jobs to make money. So they produce goods and then hope and pray they'll be able to sell them. They fill up stores with whatever the hell they can think of and then try to flog people into paying them for it. More and more of our society's work is devoted not to satisfying demand but to creating it by convincing people they need or want things that they didn't previously think they needed or wanted. The Internet is the great economic driver of our time, and that's pretty much its only real purpose.

Imagine being a shoemaker in the pre-industrial world. You didn't have to invest a huge portion of your capital in advertising your shoes to get people to buy them. People came to you. You had shoes! That world is long gone. There's a million people out there with shoes and they have to differentiate themselves by making ridiculous shoes, and they have to suck up to famous people to get them to endorse their shoes, and they have to pay for market research to beg people to tell them their secret wish for some kind of shoe they don't already have.

Living simply and not over-consuming is already a marker of status and privilege. Eventually, unless we can come up with a better economic model, this will have to be codified into law and people will not be allowed to pass up upgrades to their kitchens or what have you.

The really pathetic thing is that this is happening at exactly the same time that much of the rest of the world is busily killing off significant portions of their population precisely because there isn't enough stuff to go around. It's not going to be a very nice future for most of us.
posted by Naberius at 8:14 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Naberius: "This is a very dangerous idea. The only thing keeping the western economy afloat to the degree that it is afloat is massive over consumption. If people stop buying - and working themselves to death in order to do so - the whole system collapses."

So.... we keep going until the whole system collapses anyway?

What?
posted by Happy Dave at 9:24 AM on September 2


Well, my tongue was sort of in my cheek there - at least in so far as how all of that applies to whether or not this woman upgrades her kitchen.

That said, I do note that this kind of talk tends to crop up among those who have a secure and comfortable life as opposed to, say, Appalachia, where you hear people talking about living on less because less is all they're ever going to have. She has a quite awesome kitchen actually, at least according to those photos. And particularly I note that she claims to live in a place with excellent public schools. That is increasingly rare in the United States and a hugely significant class marker.

And to address your question more directly: Unless we succeed in coming up with a radically different economic system... yeah, that's what happens. Just because our civilization will collapse unless we achieve "a" in no way ensures that we will achieve "a," as any number of previously failed civilizations will attest.
posted by Naberius at 9:46 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


You mean the subway tile backsplash is a thing?

Subway tiles are perfectly fine if you need to install a new backsplash. Replacing a functional backsplash because HGTV says it's the wrong color palette trend for this year is kinda conspicuous consumption, which seems normal for some people and strikes other people as odd. But if your kitchen is getting old, it's gonna git re-done sooner or later.


Hygiene and interior decoration are hardly equivalent.

"They keep their houses cleaner that their bodies, and their bodies cleaner than their souls."


I'd just like to say I hate granite countertops.

As long as you don't snark on those over-sized mega-refrigerators, it's all fine here.
posted by ovvl at 11:22 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


That said, I do note that this kind of talk tends to crop up among those who have a secure and comfortable life as opposed to, say, Appalachia, where you hear people talking about living on less because less is all they're ever going to have. She has a quite awesome kitchen actually, at least according to those photos
I think that's kind of her point, though?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:22 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


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