"You know, you could've donated that money to charity..."
June 9, 2017 6:47 PM   Subscribe

 
I have thought some of those things. I hope I haven't actually said them.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:51 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


And seriously: anyone who has unusual hobbies is going to hear something similar. Knitters get "wow, that's a lot of money to spend on yarn" and "I can't believe it took you two months to make that sweater. I could have bought it at a Target."
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:57 PM on June 9 [38 favorites]


I've always wanted to be a person who had fashionable outerwear like nice handbags and such, but I'm just not that pulled together. I have 3 cheap handbags that I use with some regularity and it doesn't matter which I switch into or why, I will be missing at least 2 things I meant to bring with me.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:03 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


tfw when your outer "women's leisure activities are indeed often unfairly denigrated as wasteful and frivolous compared to men's" struggles with your inner "why in God's name does anyone want these clutches that hold three bills and one tampon, tops"

still, I like this lady, and her dog, and the way she says "bag"
posted by Countess Elena at 7:03 PM on June 9 [22 favorites]


Yes, these are things I would say to someone in my circle who I maybe didn't like quite so much, possibly because of the continuous conspicuous consumption while I'm trying to find somewhere to live within 100 miles of my workplace that I can afford. But I don't have any friends, really, so I wouldn't say any of that to anyone, just think it.
posted by turkeybrain at 7:08 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


People could do well to keep their mouths shut about what others spend their money on.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:08 PM on June 9 [28 favorites]


and the way she says "bag"

Yes! What accent is that?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:17 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I'm not into shoes, but I can see why some people get lots of fancy ones, whereas bags,I just don't get. Obviously, I think people should enjoy what they enjoy, and I find it kind of fun and interesting to be so baffled by this one.

That said, this sounds exhausting. And so many people asking what you spend on a thing! I'm tempted to borrow one of the bags in question to clobber people with.
posted by spindrifter at 7:20 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


The accent sounds like Minnesota to me.
posted by spindrifter at 7:20 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


One of my proudest gay son moments is getting my mother, a woman who rarely allows herself luxuries, her first Coach purse. Her reaction was worth every penny.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:27 PM on June 9 [39 favorites]


why in God's name does anyone want these clutches that hold three bills and one tampon, tops"

Practicality is not always the most important quality one looks for in a purse thing. Sometimes the perfect purse thing is practical enough.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:32 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


" whereas bags,I just don't get. "

They're so PLEASING, they have nooks and crannies and dedicated spots to put things and if you've got a bit of a thing for organization they're very delightful. You can get them in all kinds of pretty colors, fabrics, and textures, and different shapes, to find one that's aesthetically pleasing to you personally. And then if you're a purse person, it's something you carry EVERY. DAY. and use a lot, every day, so there's some real value in having a purse that suits your preferences (exterior cell phone pocket or gtfo, says I) and that feels very "you" and that is aesthetically pleasing to you (to the eye, to the hand, etc), so that every time you use it it makes you happy.

I've become a convert to getting one really nice bag that makes me really happy and carrying it to death. It's really nice that every time I have to get my car keys, I'm like, "Man I love this purse."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 PM on June 9 [58 favorites]


Oops, forgot to mention that as soon as I saw the title of the link I thought, "Oh, jcifa is back!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:37 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I love and think about this comment from functionequalsform about her Really Nice Bag.
posted by lalex at 7:38 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


In the documentary, Born Rich, Ivanka Trump gives a very articulate and compelling telling of why she could only date equally rich people, because otherwise she would get the rap about how many starving children she could feed with her designer handbag collection hobby. Which she didn't need to hear.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:46 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]


i fucking love when people geek out over their passions. doesn't matter if it's watches, bags or mechanical keyboards, tell me about the ways of your people...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:49 PM on June 9 [21 favorites]


I mean, if Ivanka had wanted to hang out with non-rich people, she could have developed some hobbies to which non-rich people had access. Nobody forced her to take up designer-handbag-collecting. I am not sure that Ivanka Trump is a great advertisement for the glories of handbag collecting. And while this person does own quite a few very expensive handbags (video of her collection here), I doubt she's mega-rich. I'm getting the impression that she's mostly pretty good at buying things on ebay and in consignment shops.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:53 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


nooooooooo truuuuuuuump
posted by lalex at 7:53 PM on June 9 [41 favorites]




I'm not into shoes, but I can see why some people get lots of fancy ones, whereas bags,I just don't get


If you're into small boutique designers, high end fashion or editorial couture, and you're a woman that's larger than, say, a US12/UK16, shoes and bags are (sometimes? often? no, wait) usually the only area in which you're allowed to participate, even if you have plenty of money to spend.
posted by thivaia at 7:53 PM on June 9 [37 favorites]


I also think that bags just trigger a lot less body angst than clothes do, regardless of whether you could fit into designer clothes. It's more fun to shop for things when you don't have to worry about whether they flatter your figure, and trying them on isn't stressful. I can see the appeal, even if they're not my thing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:58 PM on June 9 [19 favorites]


I have 9 Freitag bags and if I wasn't retired nothing could stop me from buying more.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I'm a guy and all that, but I picked up a limited edition Prada handbag at Housing Works for $55. Last one of it's kind sold for $7,000 at auction. I have it hanging on a nail by the window, and I just love the proportions and the lines and the shape of it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:07 PM on June 9 [19 favorites]


"women's leisure activities are indeed often unfairly denigrated as wasteful and frivolous compared to men's"

I'm not sure why you would think that. As a man, I've had plenty of judgement and scorn from others concerning what I spend my money on (HAM stuff, truck stuff, computer stuff, etc.).

What is easier, perhaps, as a man, is to give no fucks what other people think. I know it's a privileged position, but I've been happier since I (to a large extent) stopped letting other's judgement guide my actions.

Your 200 dollar purse is an objectively stupid purchase. So was the new farkle for my pickup. Let your flag fly. I'm only laughing because I'm on the same boat, just in a different stateroom.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:21 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


Now, y'all who're without sin can cast the first stone. But, although I'm not into handbags, my half of the master bedroom walk-in closet is 90% guitars, and that's just the guitar overflow area. So I'm gonna just nod and register my respect for those who share the need to collect beautiful expensive things.
posted by The World Famous at 8:32 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


Your 200 dollar purse is an objectively stupid purchase.

Of all the spendy purchases to call objectively stupid, a well-made handbag is pretty far down the list. Considering how often women use handbags, the price-per-wear ratio can be pretty damn great.

Call me when women's clothing that reads as "professional" or "fancy" or appropriately-dressed in a million other ways starts getting made on the regular with pockets I can put my wallet, phone, and keys in.
posted by lalex at 8:38 PM on June 9 [71 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that if I was a different gender, I would be into handbags.
posted by meowzilla at 8:42 PM on June 9


I'm a theoretical bag person. I love well-made bags that aren't covered in logos that have lots of pockets that are sturdy and can hold up to my "pack everything just in case" philosophy. But I can't afford to buy fancy bags, so I just drool and search for second-best.
posted by Night_owl at 8:44 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


"Yes! What accent is that?"

A funny one.
posted by traveler_ at 8:47 PM on June 9


I rotate between a few very good bags depending on season and how much space I need, so they can all get a chance to see the world and none of them wear out quickly. They're almost all thrifted though, because I'd rather spend my frivolity money on stuff that you really can't get cheaply, like high-end eyeshadow palettes.

Saying "beg" for bag is definitely upper midwest, probably Minnesota or Wisconsin. She also probably subscribes to several megazines.
posted by padraigin at 8:48 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I can't even THINK things like this because the moment I do my brain is all "did you forget about how many mechanical keyboards with custom key caps you own. You are an idiot"
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:00 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


Is this where we say something about the relative cost of pockets?

It's supporting art, though, so that's good.


What accent is that?

It sounds vaguely Michigan grandma.
posted by amtho at 9:01 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


People should definitely get to geek out about their passions, but when their passions happen to line up with high-end conspicuous consumption, expect to get shit for it, like you should get shit for conspicuous consumption in general. And I'm not even talking about handbags that cost 200 dollars, I'm talking about the stuff that costs 4000.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:39 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


When I am tempted to judge people I know for buying Louis Vuitton handbags to sling around in the boonies of New York State, I remind myself that I feel equally disgusted when people loudly complain about what people put on their SNAP cards at the grocery store. It's really none of my fucking business.
posted by xyzzy at 10:06 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


I'm not going to comment about someone's bag/whatever, because that would be rude. However, I will silently judge you for spending outrageous money on some mass produced status symbol, most especially if the price has virtually no relationship to the quality and the brand logo features prominently in the design (and was a major factor in the decision to buy)—and doubly so if you're flaunting it in the presence of people who are struggling.
posted by she's not there at 10:50 PM on June 9 [23 favorites]


Yep. I will never say it out loud, but if you're carrying a bag that looks like you're trying to impress people, not with the bag itself, but with how much money you spent on it... I am silently judging you. Slightly less though, than I judge the douchebags with the Yeti coolers, if thats any comfort.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:31 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


My method of dealing with these sorts of obnoxious displays of unnecessary consumption is to whip out my tax returns at any sight of excess and demand the person compare their expenditures to mine for purposes of proving greater wisdom, charitable impulse, and humility.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:36 PM on June 9 [22 favorites]


$200 is no small amount, but if the idea is that this handbag will be a beloved article that will last for years and years and years, well, it's more reasonable.

That said my most expensive purse-type thing was $40. But I am cheap and poor.
posted by schroedinger at 11:40 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


That's one of the great things about collecting books—people might say to you "Duh, eBooks," but there's very seldom any moral judgmentalness. Even though my $500 set of facsimiles of Japanese musical manuscripts was objectively just as frivolous a purchase as a $500 handbag, no-one's ever accused me of being a bad or shallow person for owning it instead of donating the money to an orphanage.
posted by No-sword at 12:19 AM on June 10 [23 favorites]


I've some handbag knowledge because marriage.

The thing is, her entire YouTube channel features nice but not really extravagant bags. The higher end stuff is multiple thousands, not hundreds, and far, far more discreet in its signaling.

In general, I've found that geek out gear is generally in the realm of multiple thousands - the only difference is outsiders don't know enough to recognize it. Once I got my brain around high end watches or bicycles or cameras or strollers or whatever, you just start to notice there's a ton of hella expensive but tastefully understated stuff just walking around everywhere all the time.

Whatever. You do you. Ain't nobody's business but your own.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:32 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Once I got my brain around high end watches or bicycles or cameras or strollers or whatever, you just start to notice there's a ton of hella expensive but tastefully understated stuff just walking around everywhere all the time.

Well, that's how it's supposed to work. It's in the details, and you're not supposed to draw attention. The other way is called "tacky".
posted by bongo_x at 1:03 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


That video of her collection (I recommend viewing at 1.5x speed or higher)—she loves her bags SO MUCH! It's kind of adorable. She speaks of them using feminine pronouns. Many were bought second-hand through online auctions or a local consignment shop.

It sounds like she lives in Canada—so Manitoba accent, maybe?
posted by obloquy at 1:27 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Well, that's how it's supposed to work. It's in the details, and you're not supposed to draw attention. The other way is called "tacky".

ehhh, this gets dangerously close to looking down at new money, doesn't it? I sometimes get completely tired of understated expensive good taste. Sometimes. (I live in Hong Kong, so I regularly travel in the lift with a woman whose shoes cost more than all of my furniture together. I looked it up.)
posted by frumiousb at 1:50 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


the brand logo features prominently in the design

I have noticed that the vinyl and fabric logo bags are the most likely to show up at discount places like TJ Maxx. The more subtle and well-made leather bags are rare finds, and the logo bags are often the nicest bags in that store. They're a reasonable choice for people at the hourly office staff nexus of price, durability and fashion.

I don't think it's tacky to collect purses, but I do think it's tacky as all fuck to make a video about criticism of choices you make in a genre about exposing microaggressions about who you are. Handbag fans are not a protected class.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:11 AM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I don't care much about handbags, but I once spent $40 on one LP, $20 on a glass of whiskey and $15 on a pack of baseball cards, all of which have less practical value, so I may not be the best judge.
posted by jonmc at 4:31 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


In L.A. a pretty casual drinker can easily spend $200/month in alcoholic beverages -- something that literally gets pissed away -- but it's not my place to judge them.

I'm a guy and all that, but I picked up a limited edition Prada handbag at Housing Works for $55.

One important thing that MetaFilter taught me is that you don't know other people's struggles. So while all the Judgey McJudgersons are judging people for their purses, they don't know the story behind the purse. Maybe it was a great find, or a gift, or something that belong to their grandma, or something that took years of careful saving. Maybe a young woman just starting out in her career gets a little confidence boost by carrying a nicer bag.

I've spoken here before about how, in the 60s, my father used to design and manufacture higher-end ladies handbags so I have opinions and feels that mean I should probably step away from this thread. I forgot that for some stupid reason, MetaFilter doesn't do pocketbooks well.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:36 AM on June 10 [20 favorites]


I spent $8 yesterday on a vintage Vera Bradley tote in Philly AIDS Thrift and felt glorious for a while. Bags are one of those things you can buy and not worry whether they fit or whether you should actually be wearing them. I have a handbag collection, and some of my bags actually cost in the hundreds, because I am a person who cherishes Useful Pots to Put Things In: boxes, bowls, bottles, shelves, and cases in addition to the bags I keep in other bags in my closet. I refer you to this thread from a couple years back for insights into the thinking about bags.

In the window of a "vintage" bag store on my way over to the thrift shop, though, I saw some beauties used and on sale in the thousands range. I suppose if I had that kind of money, after I donated a million or two to the ACLU, I would buy a bag like that.
posted by Peach at 5:41 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I can't help thinking of the remarks addressed to poor people who have nice phones or who dare to eat ice cream. There's something about other people's entertainment that seems to equate dimly into a land where the money spent on one thing is clearly money stolen from another thing.
posted by Peach at 5:53 AM on June 10 [10 favorites]


People could do well to keep their mouths shut about what others spend their money on.

Actually, I wish it were more acceptable to question that sort of thing. We live in a society where billions of us lack the means to acquire things like food, water, and housing, and yet those of us who can afford it blow those resources on pointless ornamentation. Handbags are just one very small example, this shit is absolutely everywhere.

It's just expected, for instance, that people will buy the most expensive car they can afford, rather than buying the cheapest one that will serve their needs (or going without, if they don't need one) and using the rest of the money to do something like pay for a kid's college tuition. Why is that? Why is it not OK to question that?

We have made conspicuous consumption into a religion. It is part of the very air we breathe, and it is killing us, and it is killing our planet. We are doing it without even noticing, and it has become taboo even to talk about it. It is destroying us.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:05 AM on June 10 [38 favorites]


Last I heard, people were still allowed to have hobbies.
posted by freakazoid at 6:11 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Actually, I wish it were more acceptable to question that sort of thing.

But you know who is going to get the finger wagged at them - women, people of color, poor people, LGBT people. "Women like to spend men's money on frivolous things!" "Poor people, especially Those Poor People, like to spend taxpayer's money on steak and iPhones!"

There is still a mentality that women, POC, the poor, etc. are childlike and frivolous and need white men to rein them in For Their Own Good and now For Our Collective Good. I'd rather not have collective finger-wagging because I know who will get shamed.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:13 AM on June 10 [47 favorites]


Yes, but should it be socially acceptable to pursue an extremely expensive hobby when those resources could instead be directed toward relieving some of the absolutely unimaginable and totally preventable suffering that is going on in the world at every moment? What if your hobby is actually destructive as well as expensive? Why do we so completely absolve ourselves from the social consequences of our financial choices? Why do we expect each other, as soon as we have secured our basic needs, to start blowing the excess on ornaments? Where do we draw the line between acceptable indulgence and conspicuous consumption, and on what grounds?

I'm not claiming to have the answers to these questions. I'm just saying that it shouldn't be taboo to ask them. Questions like those should be part of our societal discourse, rather than being considered unspeakably rude.

And we should ask them of ourselves—and I do ask them of myself, every day—at least as much as we ask them of others. Do I really need a new hiking pack? Is my current sleeping bag really good enough, or can I justify getting a warmer one for winter months? Should I move closer to my beloved mountains, so that I don't use as much gas driving back and forth to them all the time? Can I look for ways to make the impact of my activities more positive, by combining them with volunteer work or educational work? These are questions I ask myself regarding my own hobby, and the answers shape my decisions regarding how I pursue it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:25 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


I think I would have enjoyed the video more, and it might have been a bit stronger rhetorically, if there had been more than one speaker. If getting more people to be on camera wasn't an option, then I think it would have been better had she varied the pitch, speed, etc. of her voice, especially when repeating the same comment.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:27 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Rosie, while that may well be the case, I don't think it should be or needs to be. I feel the same way whenever I see a garage full of classic cars, or a jacked-up truck with a six-inch exhaust, or a golf bag full of thousands of dollars of clubs. And then there are all the houses I visit that are huge mansions full of antique furniture and giant paintings, often in the same day as I visit a house with a leaky roof, crumbling plaster, and a flooded basement. That kind of inequality is largely a result of people's personal choices, and I feel like it should be OK to question them.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:29 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I think I would have enjoyed the video more, and it might have been a bit stronger rhetorically, if there had been more than one speaker. If getting more people to be on camera wasn't an option, then I think it would have been better had she varied the pitch, speed, etc. of her voice, especially when repeating the same comment.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:27 on June 10 [+] [!]


Women. Always doing stuff wrong, amirite?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:29 AM on June 10 [16 favorites]


It's like telling kids to eat their broccoli because there are children starving.

It's enticing to think that individual abstinence will turn the tide, like the apocryphal King Canute commanding the waves, but I tend to think that's an abdication from the terrible truth that we are surprisingly powerless individually unless we organize and do the disagreeable work of changing society - changing corporations, changing governments, and changing culture.
posted by Peach at 6:32 AM on June 10 [29 favorites]


Some of us are more powerful than others, Peach. And even a few thousand bucks could make the difference between starvation and not for somebody, even if it doesn't fix the world—and that's a much more powerful result than the acquisition of another handbag (or golf club, or guitar, or tent). Also, when we all collectively decide "well, there's nothing I can do about it so let's not even talk about it," when we make conspicuous consumption the default and shout down anyone who tries to question it, we make it much, much harder to enact the kind of systemic reforms that you talk about.

If we aren't agitating for more equality, if we aren't making personal choices that work in that direction, if we aren't even letting people talk about it, then of course those who do have power will feel perfectly safe in maintaining our current civilizational trajectory—since nobody is seriously asking for change, and their power and wealth will insulate them utterly from the disastrous consequences that are in store as a result.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:39 AM on June 10 [14 favorites]


People who complain about the expensive frivolity of high-end women's handbags probably are unfamiliar with how eye-wateringly expensive a fancy men's briefcase/camera bag can be. I present the Filson catalog. I would love to have one of these and will probably get one someday, but it's going to be just as and likely much more pricy than similarly-sized purses I might consider.
posted by faineg at 6:55 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I think I would have enjoyed the video more, and it might have been a bit stronger rhetorically, if there had been more than one speaker. If getting more people to be on camera wasn't an option, then I think it would have been better had she varied the pitch, speed, etc. of her voice, especially when repeating the same comment.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:27 on June 10 [+] [!]

Women. Always doing stuff wrong, amirite?
posted by fluttering hellfire 7 minutes ago [+] [!]


Oh, FFS. I think I've been pretty clear on my feminism during my time on the Blue. Feminism doesn't mean never, ever giving constructive criticism on a work of art created by a female artist.

I work with a foundation that promotes and performs new music by rising female composers, and if something sounds off in rehearsal and it's obv. not the performers, we check with the composer about wether that's the intended sound. It's not because we think other women always do stuff wrong, or the foundation wouldn't be there in the first place.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:57 AM on June 10 [18 favorites]


Heck, Filson isn't even the best example of "obscenely expensive men's handbags and briefcases" - check out Colonel Littleton for $900+ (gorgeous!) bags that are very much marketed to men.
posted by faineg at 7:03 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Why is it not OK to question that?

I don't think so much that it's taboo, but just that it doesn't really work. Its better to talk about how much good money can do than it is to talk about bad things it's spent on.

All questioning will do is result in less conspicuous consumption, but not really more helping.
posted by FJT at 7:30 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Yes, but should it be socially acceptable to pursue an extremely expensive hobby when those resources could instead be directed toward relieving some of the absolutely unimaginable and totally preventable suffering that is going on in the world at every moment?

How much of my disposable income should I be donating to charity? How much do I need to donate to offset the cost of a $200 pair of shoes?

And speaking of offsets, that's the problem when you judge individuals you don't know. You don't know how much money or time someone donates. As far as the environmental impact, again there's a problem when you don't know who you are judging. I have no car, no lawn to water, a very small apartment to power, and only need to plant 1.5 trees to offset my carbon footprint. If someone is judging my interests for their waste and they have a car, they're going to lose that game.

It's one thing to talk about the larger issues and work towards equality and saving the planetrandom don't think that judging random individuals for this stuff is cool.

Oh, FFS. I think I've been pretty clear on my feminism during my time on the Blue.

No question. That comment was uncalled for.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:51 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


We have made conspicuous consumption into a religion. It is part of the very air we breathe, and it is killing us, and it is killing our planet. We are doing it without even noticing, and it has become taboo even to talk about it. It is destroying us.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:05 AM on June 10

Repeated for emphasis because I can only give it one "favorite".
posted by she's not there at 8:17 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Room 641-A, those are good questions that I feel like people should ask themselves and each other. What consumption is necessary? How much unnecessary consumption, and what types of it, should be acceptable? Is it enough to "offset" our unnecessary consumption (and what does that even mean?) or should we seek primarily to reduce or eliminate it in the first place?

Does giving thousands to charity really balance things out, when you're simultaneously buying ornamental cupolas to tack onto the roof of your seaside mansion and supplying your children with brand-new SUVs the moment they get their drivers' licenses? Even if few of us achieve that level of wealth, that is what we are all taught to desire and strive for. Even the poor among us often seek to acquire such symbols of status and riches, insofar as our limited means allow.

These are the types of things I wish people would talk about. Even more, I wish that there was a general agreement that once we have "enough" (and what "enough" is is certainly something to be discussed as well, perhaps the crux of the whole conversation) we should devote our excess resources to helping others, rather than to accumulating luxuries for ourselves. Many people lack even the mental framework to begin questioning these things, so little are they discussed compared to the endless barrage of measaging from peers, corporations, and the government which tell us to want more, buy more, acquire more—endlessly and without limit.

We live in a society that has no concept of "enough" whatsoever. We live in a society that has made gods out of personal wealth, conspicuous consumption, and perpetual increase. We live in a society that has made selfishness its chief virtue. We buy as much as we can afford to buy, and seek always to have the means to buy more. If we reach the point where even our wildest fantasies have been fulfilled and our imaginations can no longer supply us with new things to acquire, we hoard our wealth.

I'm going to step away now. I'm going camping.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:32 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I agree with all that! What upsets me is people almost gleefully judging people whose circumstances they nothing about.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:37 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I can't bring myself to abuse the edit window, so enjoy your camping trip!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:38 AM on June 10


Is the problem "conspicuous" consumption? Is the problem "spending?" Is there something innately virtuous in purchasing a Target bag? The money that is spent on an expensive bag is more money entering the market for a much smaller amount of physical resources, after all, and may be closer to paying a livable wage to its craftspeople. I worry far more personally about the vast quantities of plastic I discard in the course of a year and the amount of oil and coal I'm burning by just existing.
posted by Peach at 8:54 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


From where I sit, there is really no difference between "new money is so tacky I don't trust anyone with silver that has been passed down for less than four generations" and "conspicuous consumption is gross and immoral and, like, totally outre, which is why I only wear these extremely expensive-- but obvious worn--hiking boots when only take this extremely expensive--but obviously old bicycle--to Whole Foods." I'm related to the former and frequently surrounded with the latter and no matter what how they justify it, both tend to come in at about the same degree of Snob on the self-righteous, intolerant condescension scale, and both, whether they realize it or not, really do focus most of their scolding Puritan ire on women, minorities and poor people. And look, I internalized some of these attitudes too. But every moment spent silently scolding some stressed out, overworked not rich woman for buying a Gucci logo-ed bag (maybe even at full price!) that she loved because it made her feel good instead of raising backyard chickens or donating more money to an environmental non-profit is a moment better spent on taking on the various entities (political, corporate or otherwise) that are actively making this world as shitty as possible for as many people as possible as opposed to judging the other poor saps that have to live in it.
posted by thivaia at 8:58 AM on June 10 [19 favorites]


I wish that there was a general agreement that once we have "enough" (and what "enough" is is certainly something to be discussed as well, perhaps the crux of the whole conversation) we should devote our excess resources to helping others, rather than to accumulating luxuries for ourselves.

I feel that it's difficult if not impossible to come to a general agreement on "enough". The world is big and there are a broad enough amount of interests, hobbies, art, expressions, and , yes, luxuries that the definition of "enough" can't always be general, or at least can't be filtered down into individual decisions of conspicuous consumption.

But at the same time I might just be repeating the argument for taxing folks and let them figure out what is a frivolous luxury and what is an essential need.
posted by FJT at 9:07 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I live in Wisconsin and that is not a Wisconsin accent.
posted by AFABulous at 9:09 AM on June 10


I don't think it's tacky to collect purses, but I do think it's tacky as all fuck to make a video about criticism of choices you make in a genre about exposing microaggressions about who you are.

The Shit People Say phenomenon started with men being shitty about stuff women say with the Shit Girls Say Twitter and videos. Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls was not the originator of the genre though it was an early popular example of using it for good instead of evil. Videos like Shit Knitters Say and Shit People Say to Bartenders have always been part and parcel with the genre. It basically started out as a microaggression and has never been limited to combatting them.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:11 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I have mixed feelings, also a shoe collection. I am very good at Shoes On Ebay, so I have a lot of shoes that cost hundreds of dollars new and were purchased, gently used or New Without Box, by me for much much less.

At the same time, I do think moderation is important, though I struggle with it. Leaving aside charities and transformative social projects, I literally know people who could use the money that I spend on hobby shoes. They'd use that money for food, or transit, or rent, or pet food. So if I'm saying "people in my extended social circle are really broke, but I am buying a frivolous thing", that is troubling.

And then you get to the bigger question - if people in my extended community are broke, to what degree is it my duty to share with them? Obviously, giving someone twenty bucks is very possible, but should I be saying "I am going to reduce my reasonable consumption (of groceries, minor personal spending, etc) so that I can give more money to my extended social circle"? Maybe I should, seriously.

I mean, it's not that I'm going to be a dick about someone else's hobbies (up to a point - if we're talking truly life-altering amounts of money frequently spent on personal enjoyment, like with Ivanka Trump, then I will gladly be a dick) but there are questions raised about my own.
posted by Frowner at 9:14 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


(To clarify so that I don't sound like a monster, when I know for sure that Joe Frownerfriend literally needs money for rent, I am glad to give them money. It's more that I "know" in a a general way that people in my extended social circle, taken as a group, need money and then I wonder what my responsibility is. If someone literally needs money from me right now for a thing, then of course I should (and generally do if at all possible) help.)
posted by Frowner at 9:21 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


If people think this is at all limited to women, wait until the next pair of collectible sneakers comes out. $2000 for shoes you're not even going to wear? 100+ pairs you're never worn? GTFO.

I agree with Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival that we need to question this kind of conspicuous consumption, and the mood of this thread is surprising when elsewhere on the site people rail against capitalism. (Perhaps not the same people; I'm not going to dig through comment histories.)

At what point do we say look, this consumption is ridiculous and ultimately detrimental to society? $500 designer jeans? $2000 collectible [whatever]? At a Porsche? A second house? A yacht? A plane? There's got to be some threshold, and we all have different ones, so criticizing people for drawing the line lower than you is also judgmental.

I suppose someone could pick apart my spending if they wanted to (the most expensive thing I own is my hearing aids; the most frivolous? if you want to make an argument for my iPhone, go ahead, but I daresay 95% of people in this thread own a smartphone). I paid $7 for a beer at Pride yesterday.
posted by AFABulous at 9:35 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Oh, this always comes up whenever "things" are the topic. Why do we need things in our lives? If you get enjoyment out of collecting something like, god forbid, handbags, it's a moral problem, specifically your moral weakness in the face of social pressures. Nobody really needs a bigger apartment or a better location, nobody actually needs furniture they like, or a collection of handbags or model trains or golf clubs. Nobody needs to buy books when we can get them online and save trees. Nobody needs fancy recipes when you can have a great meal with chicken and potatoes that'll give you at least a few days of leftovers. Why do we have so many things we don't need?

Look, life sucks, and it's great to be aware of how we affect the world around us, but just once I'd like there to be a conversation about something like this without it becoming a moral argument. The perpetrators of evil capitalism are the capitalists, not the people who like handbags. Is it morally preferable to just look at pictures of them and think they're pretty, or is that still buying too much into the culture of consumption?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:45 AM on June 10 [22 favorites]


All my best clothes and accessories have been either gifts or thrift store/rummage sale/clothing swap finds. When I was a lot thinner, I was also the recipient of the closet cleaning leftovers of everybody I knew.

So I'm still not passing judgment on those who do pay retail for high-end bags and shoes, but I'm also saying you can't assume that's the case just by looking at someone or their purse collection.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:49 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Even a minimalist-seeming North American / Western European lifestyle vastly over-consumes those of the developing world. Anyone who is feeling morally superior in this thread should probably take a moment to remember that placed on a consumption continuum, their lifestyle is likely a lot closer to 'owns 50 handbags' than it is to 'subsistence farmer' or 'trafficked factory worker' even if they own literally no handbags at all. Especially if you own a car or have air conditioning at home or at work.

I don't exclude myself from that criticism. I get a little judgey about these things, too. Like, if you have enough bags to need to inventory them, maybe you have too many bags? But then I remember that I used to have an insurance rider to cover my yarn collection and that Ravelry basically exists for the purpose of allowing people to inventory their yarn.

There are lots of modes of consumption that don't get this level of critique but are just as wasteful. I mean, vacation travel doesn't even leave an artifact of enduring value behind but people spend thousands of dollars doing that. Plus, airplanes are hell on fossil fuel consumption.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:02 AM on June 10 [21 favorites]


also, why are these ladies always storing avocado toast in their handbags? doesn't that that get messy after awhile?
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 10:04 AM on June 10 [17 favorites]


the mood of this thread is surprising when elsewhere on the site people rail against capitalism. (Perhaps not the same people; I'm not going to dig through comment histories.)

I don't think the capitalism threads and consumerism threads are interchangeable that way.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:15 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Continuing the accent conversation: she sounds like she could be Northwesty to me. A lot of us also say something close to 'beg' when we mean 'bag'.
posted by darchildre at 10:26 AM on June 10


This is why we need to make tithing at thing. A voluntarily imposed luxury tax, that kicks in when you spend on stuff over-and-above what's needed, at a percentage that you've chosen, sending the money to helping, say, the 20% fairly directly, and you can select how. And you display your % generosity with a pin or something, so it too becomes a status symbol.

verb: to tithe
posted by Baeria at 10:52 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


You can be critical of conspicuous consumption while at the same time aware of how that criticism is disproportionally directed at women, people of color, and queer folks. You can criticize Ivanka Trump's do-nothing wealthy whiteness without resorting to sexist dog-whistling about her being a "handbag designer."
posted by Emily's Fist at 10:57 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


It's a lot easier to encourage or require a charity tax when you get to decide what are "good" charities. Back in the 90s I had those Pro Choice checks that supported Planned Parenthood. The response I got in L.A. was very different than the response I got when I moved to Texas.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:10 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Your 200 dollar purse is an objectively stupid purchase.

Nah, bro, my purse that cost about $200 looks to be a life-time beloved item, wears like iron, and gets more compliments than everything else put together in my boring middle-aged lady wardrobe.

Objectively a fantastic and smart purchase!
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:26 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


and we all have different ones, so criticizing people for drawing the line lower than you is also judgmental.

That's the thing. It's not a solid line, and we totally have a tendency to draw the line lower for other people than ourselves.

To put it another way, how often do we have constructive and productive conversations with friends, loved ones, and family that begin with, "Hey, you are spending too much on "X"? And some of these folks are ones that we know (or at least think we know) for our entire lives. And yet, we somehow expect to do the same with complete strangers?
posted by FJT at 11:42 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


If we aren't agitating for more equality, if we aren't making personal choices that work in that direction, if we aren't even letting people talk about it, then of course those who do have power will feel perfectly safe in maintaining our current civilizational trajectory

I sympathize with your feelings, but not your solutions. I don't think that works, or has any chance of ever working. "It's my moral duty to shame and harass people if they don't budget the way I would" is not a great position.

The solution is taxes. Pay your taxes to society, then do whatever you want with your money, it's nobody's business. I agree that we're so overwhelmed with the message of the Right that we don't even see it anymore, so much so that when the question of whether and how people are contributing fairly to society "taxes" barely comes up, but trying to make individuals feel bad about their choices one at a time in order to affect change does.

It's still a Capitalist society, everyone spending less does not make everyone richer.
posted by bongo_x at 11:46 AM on June 10 [16 favorites]


The solution is indeed taxes. Taxes on advertising. Prohibitively high taxes on advertising.
posted by Peach at 12:07 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


If it makes you happy, and doesn't hurt anyone- what fucking business is it of mine? Do you pay my bills? Do I pay yours? No? Sweet, you do you, and I'll do me.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 12:15 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Thank you, LuckyMonkey21, I was about to say the same thing. In a much more ponderous way, but I like yours better.
posted by monopas at 12:17 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


It's complicated. Two hundred dollars isn't a lot of money for a well-made, well-designed, sturdy leather purse. On the other hand, $6,000 is a lot of money for the same purse with signifiers, unless you can afford it and care about the signifiers. And what if it's a museum-quality piece from a historically important designer that you don't dare take out of the box? All I know is that my friends typically spend $50 buying knock-off Guccis from dodgy street vendors and then brag about how much money they saved. It seems harmless and not worth me being mean about it.

I love good design, but I'm afraid I'm limited to buying books of photographs of well-designed things.
posted by acrasis at 12:18 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


People could do well to keep their mouths shut about what others spend their money on.

Thank you for your words, New Lover.

Sorry, I reserve the right to applaud Bill Gate's public donations vs Trump's conspicuous consumption.

Sure, I get that normal people have hobbies and interests that they should be free to spend their money on. But I'm all in favor of eating the rich.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:24 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I love good design, but I'm afraid I'm limited to buying books of photographs of well-designed things.

One of my favorite things, that's our conspicuous consumption. If you saw the number of books...so maybe not that conspicuous. Books of beautiful things to admire, but that I really don't need or want in my life.

Thank you for your words, New Lover.

The forgotten Dead or Alive single.
posted by bongo_x at 12:32 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I reserve the right to applaud Bill Gate's public donations vs Trump's conspicuous consumption.

? Bill Gates has a 66,000 square foot house.
posted by lalex at 12:35 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I dunno, on the one hand I really do recognize that we live in a society where people - especially but not always women - get everyone way, way, way too much in their business, and that it's easy to misunderstand someone's financial choices from the outside. (For example, me today: wearing shoes that cost probably $500 new, purchased by me due to a badly constructed eBay auction for....$14.99) Someone with an eye for clothing could easily walk up to me and say "I notice that you are wearing clothes and accessories valued new at about $800, why didn't you spend that on the needy, or at least your retirement account?"

And I do understand that people who don't really like stuff get confused by people who do. It's a bit like liking coffee, or liking bungee jumping, or liking parrots - some people derive pleasure from those things and some people don't, and it's very, very hard for the "don't" people to understand the nature of the pleasure. Coffee is nasty and bitter and expensive and plays merry hell with your guts - what's to like? Also, says the person who doesn't really like coffee, I can't taste the difference between burned Sanka and what you drink, why do you pay so much? And I believe the coffee-hater in that I believe that because they physically don't like coffee, they physically can't perceive what people like in it.

Similarly, if you are a "stuff" person - you probably like handling things, looking at them, exploring how they fit together; you probably relax sometimes by looking at or arranging things; you like distinguishing between different materials and constructions and feelings the contrasts between say a really soft city suede and a rough country suede. Just the physical world of handling things is pleasurable to you. And a "non-stuff" person doesn't feel the same way - sure, maybe they like wearing a soft cashmere scarf or having different-colored plates, but it's not as complete or intense and it doesn't occupy as big a part of the mental landscape. It's very easy for them them to feel like this way of experiencing the world is trivial and stupid. It's probably easier for a camera enthusiast to understand a mid-century dishware collector on this level than for either to understand someone who primarily likes collecting electronic artifacts.

So I mean, I think part of this is that people who don't really care about stuff don't understand that their experience is qualitatively different than those who do. My parents, for instance, aren't super interested in stuff. Their house isn't a bleak minimalist palace in any way but they are very function oriented and do not care about color, material, etc at all. A hilarious example of this is the way that they always totally oblivious to my gender-non-conforming clothes - perfect strangers would harass me on the street for my masculine attire and it would escape my parents utterly since I was just wearing, like, a shirt and pants and boots, and weren't they exchangeable with any practical shirt, pants or boots? Modesty and not wearing too much black because that's disrespectful are kind of their things.

At the same time!!!

I feel like this type of conversation turns very readily into "we should never have critical conversations - even here on the internet, where at least we won't alienate Aunt Sue - about how we can think about what is too much, or how we can think about why we want what we want. I feel like the norm in these conversations is "there is nothing to talk about here, any attempt to get at those questions is nothing more than judgey shaming of strangers".

And in the large scale, yes, solutions to inequality can only be structural and collective. It doesn't fix inequality if I don't buy a pair of shoes. But several things come to mind:

1. Parlor pinks, champagne socialists - there's a pretty long history of very wealthy people embracing "socialism" without giving away very much of their money, certainly not enough to bring them from "wealthy" to " solidly middle class", where they say everyone should be. I assume that most of us here are not, like, minor aristocracy or whatever, so this doesn't directly apply - but carried to its logical extent "your money is your money, only structural change ends inequality" gets us to this point.

2. Culture. Even though inequality is structural, I worry that a culture of consumption makes it harder for us to develop strategies to deal with it.

3. It's not just "some people somewhere" who are in need, it's people literally right around us. Saying "you could have donated to Save The Children instead of buying a purse" is pretty blatantly trolling. But what about "you could have gotten some food for your local, heavily stressed food pantry" or "you could have made up a box of nice groceries for your friend whose partner is out of work and who is horribly sick of kraft dinner" or "you could have PayPal'd $30 to that millenial person on tumblr who is in your fandom and stuck in the usual gig-economy maybe-I-just-won't-get-my-prescription rut"?

I don't know about you, but in my city there has been a literal, visible increase in homelessness in the last year, and a huge uptick in begging - not just by people who are obviously struggling with addiction but by families, retirees, etc. I am seeing beggars everywhere I turn every day, it feels like, and I've lived here long enough to recognize that this is different. "Oh, we need structural change," I say as I walk past with my iced coffee...Now, on the one hand we do need structural change, and on another hand some people who are begging probably will spend the money they receive on things that will harm them, but I feel pretty sure now that it's not everyone. Also, if I am not to be judged for my shoe purchases, made freely by a healthy person, why should I judge them for theoretical harmful purchases?

So I mean, I don't want to dickishly shame people because they like collecting stuff, even fancy stuff. But I also think that there are some questions about how we live in the world that get foreclosed really fast the minute the question of "should I buy a fancy thing or give the money to someone in need" comes up.
posted by Frowner at 12:40 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


Her money could be spent in a more morally upstanding way, but all of us are chatting on a website when we could be doing research into how to save the world.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:41 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


So I was thinking about this. I actually have a ton of hangups about handbags, which are related to a fairly specific class anxiety. Handbags are a big-ticket item, and they're subject to a lot of scrutiny and judgment among a certain kind of woman. So you can spend a lot of money on a bag, realize it's wrong and is broadcasting your wrongness, and not be easily able to replace it, because you actually aren't the kind of person for whom a $500 bag is no big deal. And for me, as someone who has spent enough time around those women to know that they are in fact judging the rest of us, but who doesn't have the skills or cultural capital to get it right according to their rules, handbags are a source of a lot of stress. If I were a bigger person, I wouldn't care what they thought, but I do. I'm never going to have the social ease that comes from being genetically upper-middle-class, and I'm always going to give myself away and look foolish for even trying. So I totally opt out of the handbag thing. I have a canvas messenger bag that I use most days, and I have a random no-brand cross-body purse that I use when I don't want something as big as the messenger bag, and that's it. My handbags make the statement "fuck you, I'm not playing this game."

For reasons that I can't entirely identify, handbag collectors don't really trigger this particular anxiety. I think it's because they seem to be about a different impulse: they're collectors, who enjoy acquiring and cataloging shiny objects, not fashion people who are trying to signal that they're Our Kind of People and better than the tacky masses. So maybe what they're doing is conspicuous consumption, but I don't give a shit, because my hangups about this are not actually about how you could be feeding the poor with the money you spent on your purse.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:50 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


There are a number of somewhat different threads of thought being tied together regarding consumption that perhaps such be untangled a bit.

One is the idea of consumption of resources, where excess is determined by owning more things of any sort than you "need". So it isn't the interest in handbags or the price of any given one intrinsically, but the volume of material used in their making which shows the hobby as wasteful. Virtue signalling by calling this type of consumption out would be of great benefit to me, since I'm pretty poor and own very little. No car, minimal shoes, clothing, or other owned commodities. I'd look like a prince, albeit a really shabby one, were this the main source of complaint. It too points to an issue of whether it is worse, in this sense, to own many handbags or single items or greater material cost. For example, how many handbags would it take to match the material used in the making of a tent, cooking gear, and other camping essentials? What about a single sail boat? Can or should we account for that as a potential trade off in the exchange, so I could substitute a dozen handbags for a tent and gear?

But that idea is also being linked to cost, where the wastefulness is more in the amount spent on items that are deemed by others as unnecessary. Here I'd look utterly foolish as even though I'm relatively poor, I've never managed my money all that well. Something not uncommon among poor people in the west, where, even setting aside many systemic problems costing the poor excess income compared to the wealthy, they still "overspend" on objects of minimal utility as a percentage of their income. So by this accounting, poor people possibly could be seen as more of a problem than the wealthy who may not spend as much of their income on so called frivolities. Like with the above then, can and should we account for cost in these issues in the proverbial 100 duck sized horses versus 1 horse sized duck sense? Is it better under this concept to own many cheaper handbags than one more expensive one?

Underlying all of this though is, I think, simply the concept of greed, as witnessed in the Gates vs Trump example. Where it isn't wealth alone being the irritant, but accumulation at the expense of others, or at least without regard for them. There is something difficult in this concept, not at the highest levels where Gates and Trump have more than enough to satisfy any and all material or more abstract wants and needs, but in the lower levels where one person's interest is another's frivolity. I spend a, um, generous share of my income at coffeeshops even though I'm perfectly aware that I could save money by making coffee at home. For me, going to the coffeeshop each day is one of the primary routine pleasures of my life that helps make the rest of the minor annoyances worthwhile. Yet to someone who doesn't share that pleasure and has other wants of their own it is money wasted that they would, in their view, put to use much more effectively.

It too is tied to the "problem" of living in the west in an age of rampant capitalist excess. I can of course say there may be better methods of arranging commodity use and capital, but I'm forced to live this life, not that one and I work to get through it as best I can. Again, this isn't uncommon among the poor, where there is no greater virtue bestowed on individuals for lacking resources or funds, just some potential desire to have greater opportunity to make their own lives more pleasurable, by whatever measure they find most satisfying. Give poor people enough income to become wealthy and they too will often consume as such given whatever conditions their lives are directly affected by.

So while I'm with anyone looking for better ways to arrange greater sharing of resources and capital, I'm still stuck needing to live until we find that magic place and as such I'll do what I deem necessary to make my life acceptable in the conditions I live in and around. So more coffee and a good book or chatting on the internet will be my choice until or unless I can no longer afford to do so or otherwise become subject to events.

Finally, let me add one little item of historical interest I've noticed as something of a perhaps connected aside. During the early years of Soviet cinema, there were some beautiful and amazing films made as propaganda to spur workers to adopt collective farming or other aspects of collectivism being put in place in the first couple decades after the revolution. One somewhat extraordinary element of these movies, as seen from today, is how heavily they relied on placing women in the center of the narratives surrounding this sea change of social upheaval. Crudely put, the narratives often took the form of suggesting women have this astounding new power in the USSR, which as good Soviets they should use to encourage moral compliance with ideas of relinquishing individualist goals among the men. So at the very moment women gain power they are asked to let it go for the good of all.

In many discussions here recently like this one, but also those around examples of morally objectionable use of copyright and so forth, I get something of a similar feeling. Where at the moment women and minorities start making the most noticeable gains in power and wealth, that is the moment people increasingly start to look more deeply into the problems of the old structures. I don't mean this in a nefarious sense necessarily, simply that the nature and notice of change is leading to a lot of questioning of wealth and power perhaps due to it no longer seeming a natural right of white men. There is of course plenty of good in this in the abstract, but there is also something troubling about it in how many of these questions are being raised, with single morally weighted examples standing in for systemic evidence for needed change that would, by these arguments, remove historical power and privilege right when there were indications those previously less or unable to access these rights finally may be getting their own chance.

That's a lot of weight for what was obviously intended as a light discussion on attitudes towards handbags, and it isn't my intention to even feign at it being a call out at anyone here as it seems clear all are participating with good will and honest belief. It's simply a concern noted through accumulated effect, even in good intention, of how much of these discussions do revolve around notice of women and minorities acting as white men always did without the same level of comment. It's something I'm not sure how to interpret, or even fully able to verify as a actual phenomenon, so no holier-than-thouing lecture implied, just something I offer for people to reflect on and think about in these kinds of conversations.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:29 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I feel like this type of conversation turns very readily into "we should never have critical conversations - even here on the internet, where at least we won't alienate Aunt Sue

Well, to tie it to what you opened the comment with, it's kind of odd (or not odd) that this whole conspicuous consumption thing has come up in a topic about handbags and not any of the other recent topics where conspicuous consumption definitely 100% also happens: coffee, comic book movies, LEGO, video games, sports, etc.

(Okay, it did happen in avocado toast, but that's just general millennial bashing)
posted by FJT at 1:31 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


just because we can't all be perfect does not mean that some things aren't certainly and objectively wrong

like, purse buying might not be one of those things, but those things exist. And the response to them can't be "well there are some things we don't KNOW are DEFINITELY wrong so STFU"

first, it conflates the speaker with the idea and then devalues the idea because of the identify of the speaker. second, it fails to recognize that even in a world where there are morally complex and ambiguous activities, there still might be some activities that we can reliably identify as "bad" or "good."
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:43 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Well, I'm in poverty and rely on charity and all my problems won't be solved if you want to drop a few hundred on a bag. I'm fully aware as a poor person that your bag isn't taking food from my mouth and most of the money donated would just end up not actually helping because the problem is systematic throughout the government system. So with that said

I'm having a hard time finding a suitable messenger bag for a non-binary masc person that is under 100 CAD. Must be cool looking with a lot of pockets and just fun stuff because even us poors like to splurge on bags. I may still have to buy woman's clothes to fit my weird shaped body but the pockets are bullshit as apparently "The Man" wants me to carry a purse at all times (and then judges me for using one!)
posted by kanata at 1:43 PM on June 10


ehhh, this gets dangerously close to looking down at new money, doesn't it? I sometimes get completely tired of understated expensive good taste. Sometimes.

I think this trope is overplayed. Part of the idea, flawed as it may be, is that you don't throw your wealth in people's faces. "New money" didn't just refer to lack of lineage, part of it was the idea that there is, or should be, a responsibility that comes with wealth.

Like many things, in America we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater and have chosen the worst of everything. "Old money" was pompous and rigid so we've gone with crass, uncaring, and gaudy as the ideal.

Very progressive taxes makes most of this issue go away. If you look at the guy with the ridiculously expensive car and know that he pays a ridiculous amount of taxes it changes the equation. It also works for almost everyone. Much of what drives people to become rich is not that they have any use for all that money, but the game itself. Taxes don't change this, it's part of the game. The amount of taxes you paid used to be part of the signalling. The average rich person does not get public credit for money they give to charity, they have to advertise it, which many don't want to do. With taxes they don't.

I feel taxes don't really hurt rich people that much, except we've fucked up the game, if the other billionaires aren't paying taxes then you have to compete. I really think it's a minority of rich people fucking up the system. I think the majority would pay more taxes, not all voluntarily, but not fight it tooth and nail. The people with money I know have almost never talked about taxes (mostly because it would be rude) but any time it has come up there is still a sense of pride behind the comments. When everyone is paying their fair share you can still play "who's richer?"

But these aren't the people we see on TV. We only see the gaudy and obnoxious. That may not necessarily be a bad thing as it might move us to make them start paying their fair share.

Who it does fuck up are upper middle class people who want to pretend to be richer than they are, the people who really complain about taxes. And until the rich start paying more they have a somewhat valid, if warped, complaint.

The short version; Not all people with money are evil, we should be making them pay more into the system and not worry about what they do with the rest.
posted by bongo_x at 2:01 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


The money that is spent on an expensive bag is more money entering the market for a much smaller amount of physical resources, after all, and may be closer to paying a livable wage to its craftspeople.

With due respect, that is one very huge "may" there.
posted by she's not there at 2:46 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


For reasons that I can't entirely identify, handbag collectors don't really trigger this particular anxiety.
I collect some bags and the people I know who do are really nerdy about it and non judgy in a very enthusiastic way. Like if you mention their bag they'll tell you way more than you wanted to know about it as well as where you could get one on sale and what's a good price for it. Like any other collectors it can be social and people put effort into helping people find items they're looking for or pass along bargains if something doesn't work for them.

I did also want to point out that at best you can know what the retail price is for a purse but not what that person paid or how they got it.

I look forward to seeing folks questioning how people spend their money popping up on every other hobby post on the blue. Or maybe handbags are among the things Metafilter doesn't do well.
posted by oneear at 2:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Goods are so tempting, and no one resists, even at the lowest economic level. Thrift store shopping is also a way to accumulate goods that are not necessities, but an outlet for creativity, and creating a feeling of belonging to our society, also, a way of surviving. I think that handbags are a symbol of the power of the uterus. Yes, I said it. I think they are empty uterine symbols ready to be filled by the economic, rather than reproductive powers, of women. I absolutely do not get handbag love, even understanding materialism, but I am not a handbag person. There are other material objects I do love, Gibson guitars, Ford Thunderbirds, Navajo baskets, I do not own any of these things. So apparently, I enjoy the occasional longing, rather than the must having.
posted by Oyéah at 3:25 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


It is sort of instructive to compare any Metafilter discussion of handbags with the comments on this post about high-end British men's shoes, which are really just all about where to find quality shoes in the £200-£300 price range.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:40 PM on June 10 [21 favorites]


part of it was the idea that there is, or should be, a responsibility that comes with wealth.

yeah, the responsibility to look fuckin awful. so old money slouches around in its weatherbeaten khakis and whatever, and new money strides around in its diamond-crusted Uggs, and the only people who know what taste is and have some and aren't afraid to wear beautiful things are the ones who can't afford to buy them and or don't have the time to construct them. the world is terrible so it is very important that it also be bad to look at. that is the theory of Wealth.

meanwhile, the wickedest irony of all is that the most expensive bags are only rarely and accidentally good to look at. I mean I have seen Birkin bags up close and wandered through the Coach store (although I guess everyone agrees Coach bags stopped being nice looking aeons ago. but this was aeons ago.) and they are ghastly. just ghastly. Spending between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars on a beautiful bag is a righteous act, as buying art always is, just so long as it wasn't made by child or slave labor and so long as it wasn't built out of the skin of an animal slaughtered for that purpose. (wait, 80 percent of nice-looking bags are leather or suede. oops!)

meanwhile meanwhile, I have a nondescript canvas Herschel bag that is big enough to stuff my gym bag inside it, which is why I have it, not because I think it looks great, which it doesn't. It looks ok. do you know how many women come up to me on the street or on the metro just to tell me how great my bag is? Lots! I don't know, we don't live in a rational age. maybe it is just because I am gorgeous, and the bag is an excuse. who knows.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:54 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


It is sort of instructive to compare any Metafilter discussion of handbags with the comments on this post about high-end British men's shoes, which are really just all about where to find quality shoes in the £200-£300 price range.

But men's shoe's are functional, an investment where it's worth paying for quality, unlike my ladies' handbag which I carry every single day and contains my most valuable and important items.
posted by lalex at 3:59 PM on June 10 [39 favorites]


I look forward to seeing folks questioning how people spend their money popping up on every other hobby post on the blue. Or maybe handbags are among the things Metafilter doesn't do well.

I would love to comment about stuff like this but it would get deleted.

The focus of this post, though, isn't handbags. It's criticisms and comments people have about people who have handbags. That's the topic of the video, and that's what the ensuing discussion is going to be about if it's on-topic.

There's not a single photo of a bag, discussion of bags, or any other bag-related media here that we are not-discussing in favor of criticism. The criticism is literally the entire point.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:04 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I think they are empty uterine symbols ready to be filled by the economic, rather than reproductive powers, of women.

oh but they are both. they are reproductive power-objects unbounded by the biological. put one pen, one crumpled receipt, and one penny into your handbag and two months later look again. you will have two dozen of each. I don't know what happens if you put a baby in your handbag, look away, and look again later, but if you try it out please write it up and have the results peer-reviewed and published. that doesn't work with pockets because pockets are, of course, resplendent with testicular symbolism rather than uterine. relatively small containers of fixed dimensions that can be expanded by their contents only so far before they ruin the lines of a pair of trousers.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:05 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah, well who are you to judge me for judging? If I want to collect Ferraris or Sharks in Formaldehyde its my business and you don't get to say boo. I am sure you will obey me and stop because I told you to. On the other hand your taste is awful and you ought to be shot!




So there!
posted by Pembquist at 4:15 PM on June 10


I am confused and disappointed by the cheering on of conspicuous consumption and rampant capitalism in this thread and recent others about celebrities (specifically Missy Elliott and Ta-Nehisi Coates but I'm sure there are others). What would you say to the simple fact that there are finite resources and the happiness that one derives from an expensive dinner is much less than the happiness that would be derived from feeding several starving persons with the same money?
posted by koavf at 5:12 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I rarely get criticized for my pelican (and nanuk) cases, my bicycle saddle bags and racks, or my camping packs and tents. All of which range in price from the low hundreds to the low thousands.

I justify them to myself saying that these are practical utilitarian purchases, but I know that y could make my own bucket panniers for a few bucks, and I have camped with a school backpack and a tarp. Before I could afford pelican cases, my gear was perfectly happy in triple ziplock bags cocooned in bubble wrap.

But I'd like to propose a distinction between a hobby, where one put a lot of labor into researching, talking to people, learning to make and fix stuff, etc... Versus collecting mass produced stuff where the only barrier to entry is money.
posted by Dr. Curare at 5:35 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


it's kind of odd (or not odd) that this whole conspicuous consumption thing has come up in a topic about handbags and not any of the other recent topics where conspicuous consumption definitely 100% also happens: coffee, comic book movies, LEGO, video games, sports, etc.

Well, handbags are coded female, which means frivolous, and the Victorian idea that a Good Woman is selfless is still very much extant. So a thread on handbags brings out the "But what about the STARVING CHIRRUN?" in a way that Legos, comic book movies, and other things that are coded gender-neutral or male do not. Which is why my jimmies get so rustled and I mutter "MYOB, haters."

Where at the moment women and minorities start making the most noticeable gains in power and wealth, that is the moment people increasingly start to look more deeply into the problems of the old structures. I don't mean this in a nefarious sense necessarily, simply that the nature and notice of change is leading to a lot of questioning of wealth and power perhaps due to it no longer seeming a natural right of white men. There is of course plenty of good in this in the abstract, but there is also something troubling about it in how many of these questions are being raised, with single morally weighted examples standing in for systemic evidence for needed change that would, by these arguments, remove historical power and privilege right when there were indications those previously less or unable to access these rights finally may be getting their own chance.

Gusottertrout, this is an excellent observation, and I remember a similar one on MeFi making the same point about individualism: white men have always had the privilege of individualism, but when women and people of color started reaping its benefits, suddenly individualism was not so great anymore and came in for criticism. When not-white not-straight-men get their hands on some power and privilege, all of a sudden, NOW it's time to criticize it! Coinkydinky? I think not.

It's not that there isn't room for criticism of conspicuous consumption, etc., but that criticism is usually reserved for things - like handbags! - that are coded female, or things that are associated with POC, LGBT folks, and so on. When white men spend or are "selfish" whatchagonnado, but when women, LGBT, and POC want to do what white men have always done, they are selfish and What About The Starving Children? and need their greedy, grabby hands slapped. It gets my hackles up, and, frankly, makes me want to spend more, rather than less, on myself as opposed to others.

Carrots usually work better than sticks to obtain desired outcomes, for one thing. And "women and their frivolous beauty/fashion purchases" are similar to "welfare queens eating steak and driving Cadillacs" in that it's judging various unworthy classes of people for being foolish and selfish with money, while purchases by white middle-class men are not usually scrutinized to that extent.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:35 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


I am reading this with particular interest because my late mother collected bags. Coach ones to be exact. I did not (and still don't) understand the need for more than one of anything that is useful in it's context. I had many debates with her about this, but I was always shut down by my father, who would tell me- "this is what makes her happy".

She was a teacher who literally had every kid in her class in my town. Years later when I went back there, her students would recognize me as her daughter and thank me for her service. Whenever I went home, we didn't have much to talk about because I took a much different path than she did. She would take me up to her closet and give me the ones that she didn't need anymore as a way of connecting. I in turn would distribute them to my friends who needed bags. It represented SOMETHING to her- what it was, I still don't know. But i do remember her being happy for a little while when she got a new one.

FWIW- I still use the one she gave me 20 years ago, battered and ink stained. It's been to at least 20 states. So if someone gets that same joy that I don't get out of whatever it is- I accept that it's not my place to judge. YMMV
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 5:48 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


It is sort of instructive to compare any Metafilter discussion of handbags with the comments on this post about high-end British men's shoes, which are really just all about where to find quality shoes in the £200-£300 price range.

Since I posted in that ask, and since I posted in this thread, and since I'm unclear whether this comment is supposed to call me out specifically:

1. Yes, I know where you can get really expensive shoes and have opinions on them, even though my own really expensive shoes are purchased second hand for cheap.

2. I also have a lot of ambivalence about my own consumption, and I've tried to stress in my comments here that my own consumption, friends and community are what are in play for me. I'm not sitting here in my micro-apartment among my fewer-than-twenty-possessions eating a dumpstered bagel. I think it's possible both to have a consumption-oriented hobby and have some ambivalence and uncertainty about it.

3. Also, that was an ask; this was a post about criticisms raised about collecting comparatively costly things. If someone asked "where can I get a really nice handbag", well, as a chronic ebayer, I have lots of useful information on that too; if someone posted a link to "My Years As A Handbag Collector: So Many Happy Memories", I wouldn't bring my ambivalence about consumption to that post.

4. I am uncomfortable with the turn to "well, we never ever tell men that their hobbies are useless and stupid, so therefore any not-even-criticism but mere ambivalence about spending lots of money on fashion is misogynist and should not happen". I mean, can't it be true both that men aren't criticized because of misogyny and that there is something worth examining about the way our culture pushes us to get more stuff?

I don't know - as my country, my social circle and my neighborhood get poorer around me, I get more and more uncomfortable about my collecting habits, and more uncertain where my responsibility lies. If my friends and community members are poorer, and I'm constantly seeing people literally around me to whom an extra twenty or thirty bucks would actually make a difference, I feel like it becomes sort of a complicated question about where to draw the line.

It's true that structural change fixes things. But structural change - even if I gave my every spare moment to working on it - isn't coming tomorrow or next week, and the rent is due on the first of every month. What is my responsibility in the meantime?
posted by Frowner at 6:37 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


Since I posted in that ask, and since I posted in this thread, and since I'm unclear whether this comment is supposed to call me out specifically:
Nope, not you specifically. Just that in general, dude-related luxury items get treated differently from women-associated luxury items.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:44 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I'm a woman who thinks purses are fucking horrible, but tbh it's not the "having a couple of expensive purses" thing that bugs me -- it's definitely true that well-made, $200-$1000 bags are going to last a lot longer than cheap-ass bags from Target, and a lot of women who need to look put-together need bags in more than one color, so sure. What gets me is the collecting part. That's where the conspicuous consumption thing comes in, for me -- when you've got so many purses that you could use a different one every week for a year. That's useless and unnecessary and hell yes, i'm judging you for it.

I am also judging dudes who collect ridiculous expensive shit that they never use, though. A couple of action figures that remind you of your childhood? Sure. A room full of toys you don't even play with, ever, or let kids play with, because it would "ruin their value"? That's really vile. Same with zillion-dollar instruments. Do you play them? Great! Do you just show them off? Fuck you right in the ear. Even if you got them at a discount.

TL;DR: The entire idea of "collecting" as a hobby horrifies me. It's such an artifact of capitalism, and hell yeah we should be criticizing it. Someone else could actually be using those purses, playing those instruments, loving the hell out of those toys, but you're fucking hoarding them instead.
posted by adrienneleigh at 7:30 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I am uncomfortable with the turn to "well, we never ever tell men that their hobbies are useless and stupid, so therefore any not-even-criticism but mere ambivalence about spending lots of money on fashion is misogynist and should not happen". I mean, can't it be true both that men aren't criticized because of misogyny and that there is something worth examining about the way our culture pushes us to get more stuff?

This speaks to a bigger problem on this site.
posted by bongo_x at 8:44 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


What is Lady Bracknell's position on all this?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:13 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


For me, the issues this thread has raised aren't so much directly about consumption, which I see little direct support of as a thing in itself and which everyone I think agrees is a problem in a big picture perspective, but more along the lines of who gets questioned over their consumption, why, and what measure is it exactly being used that isn't problematic in itself.

Collecting things can certainly call attention to consumption more dramatically than similar amounts of spending and resource use on a wider variety of items, and visible evidence of collecting, such as with handbags versus a room at home filled with toys, guitars, or camping gear, certainly will trip the "too much" switch even faster, but criticizing based on that isn't more sensible or helpful than in the other cases and may fall disproportionately on some parties more than others.

My feeling is that the kind of criticism spoken about in the video isn't based on any accurate assessment of consumption overall, but personal distaste at individual choices in that consumption and that, to me, is a problem.

Another, bigger, problem though is that of capitalism and its effects, where buying things has some necessary value for society under that system in maintaining employment and group well being, and at the same time denudes the world of resources, greatly harms the environment, and isn't based on any standard or equality among those in and outside the culture. That situation is dire and requires address, but I'm not at all convinced that the kind of criticism offered towards the handbag collectors is a useful or even ultimately truthful way to do that given the lack of consistency and questionable or variable measures and values employed in those kinds of responses. It isn't to suggest collecting handbag, or whatever, is good so much as to feel uneasy about where the criticism comes from.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:17 PM on June 10


I would like to say, it's not the rich people who blow their money on useless shit that worry me. Because their money quickly becomes someone else's money. That's how money works It's the people who hoard it, use it to make exponentially increasing amounts of money, use the mere fact that they have it to get power and influence. That, to me, seems far more dangerous.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:19 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Maybe part of the cost of collecting anything expensive is having to suck it up when people ask if you couldn't have donated the money instead.

'Cuz this video kinda made me wanna show her my collection of the world's smallest violins.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


It sounds like she lives in Canada—so Manitoba accent, maybe?

I think she's Albertan to my ears (she goes to what looks like the Edmonton Arboretum in one of the videos which helps corroborate my suspicions...)

My wife's mother was a big naysayer when it came to buying "expensive" things for oneself. So much so my wife still has a hard time spending her own money on herself without getting to a point where she can give herself permission. If she'd let herself she'd totally have a bag collection. One of the nicest things my mum has ever done for my wife was to buy her a very lovely hand made leather purse which has become one of her most prized possessions. Expensive but practical, useful, stylish and enduring.

If your hobby doesn't cripple you financially or becomes a burden for you (or your family) don't let people bully you. If it brings you joy AND is useful that seems like a win-win to me. And that's coming from someone who's got plenty of useless collections with far less utility (books, fossils, quirky film cameras...) then a collection of hand bags.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:00 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


it's kind of odd (or not odd) that this whole conspicuous consumption thing has come up in a topic about handbags and not any of the other recent topics where conspicuous consumption definitely 100% also happens: coffee, comic book movies, LEGO, video games, sports, etc.

Were those posts specifically about someone complaining about the disparaging things people say to those who enjoy/collect coffee, comic book movies, LEGO, etc or something closely related? If not, "conspicuous consumption" might be considered a derail, whereas in this post it is absolutely on topic.
posted by she's not there at 10:13 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Maybe part of the cost of collecting anything expensive is having to suck it up when people ask if you couldn't have donated the money instead.

'Cuz this video kinda made me wanna show her my collection of the world's smallest violins.


Except in the video she mentions several times that people ask her if the bag is real, so she's getting criticized for carrying an expensive bag and criticized for possibly not carrying an expensive bag. So she can't win.

The one thing I find most dismaying about our Facebook/SoMe/sharing culture with constant access to cameras and video recorders is that people have forgotten the lost art of minding your own damn business.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:46 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


If not, "conspicuous consumption" might be considered a derail, whereas in this post it is absolutely on topic.

But if society considers one set of things to be "conspicuous consumption" and another not, then that would also affect the topic and discussion that occurs on this very website.

I also want to point out that it's not a simple open and shut case that the YT video is about conspicuous consumption. Because the video is from the perspective of the hand bag collector, joking about the comments she gets about her hand bags. Normally, these videos are meant to be something we laugh along and maybe sympathize with the person, but in this topic there's a clear split here where MF people relate more to the people who she's joking about than the hand bag collector.
posted by FJT at 11:57 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I have a tool bag and also a tool bag lately.

I don't often see women using these as fashion accessories and I as a man who should keep my mouth shut about women's fashion choices think they should too. I go to the grocery store and they're like would you like a bag for those bananas and I'm like no I got this. Plus at the tool store down the block the cheap ones are like $3. Only positive reactions so far, got the idea while backpacking, needed cheap foldable day bag. I now own about 9 million. I also own my fair share of expensive Crumpler bags, and I have no need of them. That shit outlasts my laptops and will probably outlast me. What am I gonna do with all these bags? Anybody want one?

My roommates are female and they won't touch either category, but boy do they have handbags, purses, clutches, they trade and accessorize the shit out of those...I...like, my headphone case is bigger than half their purses. Most are ruled out in terms of practicality. I can't fit my stuff in those. And I need to bring All the Things. But I see the appeal, and have shoes, and I rock that shit with the right outfit. I'm a straight white man who likes tech gear and fucking tool bags and I just said I'd wear handbags out. I have. Accessorize and damn the gender, bend it to death, look fabulous. There I said it.

But, I would give Ivanka shit. Cure cancer already, you greedy oligarchy robber baron son of a bitch. There's handbags and handbags and let's get that straight. How dare you carry a symbol of conspicuous consumption I notice? Designer handbags above a certain price threshold make me feel exactly the same way I do when I see the matte black Ferrari stuck in traffic on the way to the nightclub, or someone bitching about their glitchy Vertu phone. You're gonna get drunk, that's a speed car in gridlock, and that's a custom paint job and I have keys. That's not a pink/gold iPhone Plus, that's a crap phone made of pirate loot. It's not about gender or class. Well-made/cool-looking bag, allowed. When your handbag exists solely as a badge of status rather than a handbag, you perpetuate a pointless social hierarchy based on money, classism, oppression, and misery, and that is patently not ever okay. It's not. I won't give you shit for 10 $300 handbags. That's accessorizing. But when don't $6,000 handbags signal "I can afford this bet you can't"? Rarely. Carry one of those to a party, or drive a Ferrari to the nightclub, and we both know what you're doing, it's Robespierre baiting, so stop it.

FPP subject doesn't seem to be doing that, she just seems to really like the bags, but still, if I used Pepe stickers in chat, and then I said, "People give me sooooo much shit for these stickers you wouldn't believe it!" what would your reaction be? It's creepy because of the unapologetic association with evil. The Great Wall of China and Mayan temples are creepy because of that, so are assault rifles. Personally, I'm guilty of enjoying all four, but...I'm not out there with a giant Pepe T-shirt and an AK-47 going, "What?! It's a funny strip, and look at the beautiful engineering!" It's possible to appreciate expensive/potentially icky things while not being an insensitive prick about the fact that they cause problems. I used to own a fedora, y'know. In the beforetimes.

It's also entirely possible to find certain things distasteful while not being a turd. Giving strangers and acquaintances shit for hobby choices is just a jerk thing to do. I wouldn't do it to a man or a woman, and it sucks that women catch so much of it. I'll do it on the internet semi-anonymously, like right now, sure, but...this is literally the forum for that. And if we ever get to the point where I'm comfortable giving you shit and you're comfortable giving me shit in real life, by that point it won't be me shoving my opinions in your face.
posted by saysthis at 12:41 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I too am a handbag lover, and have watched some of her videos before. She's really sweet and is sincerely passionate about her bags. She has mentioned in her videos that she lives in Canada - I would guess in the west to mid-west?

Anyways, I like bags that don't have obvious logos all over them, so people don't realise what they are and don't give me shit about them. Like this youtuber, I get most of my stuff on discount or second-hand anyways. Most people don't judge others for carrying an iPhone or spending 10's of 1000's on a car. Is a bag really more frivolous? I have a toddler and no car, so you better bet my bags are functional items that are worth every penny to me. Those things ARE my car.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 5:47 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


We’re all living in the same consumer society in which acquiring Stuff is completely normalised and where we’re all under enormous social and psychological pressure to continue doing so. Everyone knows this is completely unsustainable, but the system persists and we keep on shopping. The biggest problem in my opinion isn’t that humans like acquiring Stuff, it’s that the current system depends on built-in obsolescence in a market flooded with cheap goods designed to fail or fall out of favour after a short period of use. It’s completely unsustainable, but we’re all on the treadmill whether we like it or not.

I say all this as a shameless lover of Stuff, but here’s the thing. Many people I know who love Stuff as much as I do aren’t particularly wealthy, so will actively go looking for top quality Stuff at prices they can afford, which means for example thrifting, buying from independent makers, or acquiring skills to make the Stuff themselves. By and large, I’d say aficionados of Stuff are among the most conscious consumers I’ve met.

I’m firmly in the “one awesome bag to rule them all” camp, but that’s only because I find switching bags confusing and I prefer to reserve my decision fatigue for my other Stuff. Frankly, I’m not inclined to judge anybody for enjoying their collection of handbags, model trains, kitchen equipment or whatever else happens to float their boat. I'm somewhat more ambivalent about the sneakerheads and I draw the line at stockpiling firearms but I think for the most part, collectors are more likely to treat their Stuff as something of value, and appreciate it for the pleasure they derive from it. In fact, when it comes to conspicuous consumption, you could say that a collector’s discernment is a pretty healthy response to the problem of shopping addiction, when your average high street or mall is loaded up with rubbish that exists for no other reason than to provide the dopamine rush you get when you buy it.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I've found the collection and curation of good quality Stuff is just about the best way I know to guard against the constant pressure to keep on buying it. When you raise your standards it's much easier to resist impulse purchases and focus on finding things you know you'll value, and once you have them it's easier to look critically at what's on offer. You'll always want another (insert collectible here) but after a while your appreciation deepens, shopping becomes the means and not the end and you buy less and less every year.

Of course nobody's immune and we’re all familiar with anecdotes about women whose handbag habit led them to a life of crime, or that story of the man who went to prison for his addiction to classic BMW’s, but I don't think that's the case here. None of those bags will ever end up as landfill, and she’ll be trading well-loved collectibles with other enthusiasts years from now. Fair play to her.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 7:50 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Recently, I have made a point to note how many rants about frivolous or annoying hobbies could be replaced seamlessly by the phrase, "I find it annoying to hear about women liking things."

It's a lot. There are a lot of those.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:14 AM on June 11 [18 favorites]


she just seems to really like the bags, but still, if I used Pepe stickers in chat, and then I said, "People give me sooooo much shit for these stickers you wouldn't believe it!" what would your reaction be?

"Are you comparing handbags to an appropriated symbol of white supremest neonazi hatred?"
posted by Room 641-A at 9:05 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I've thought of a couple other things on this topic:

- I've always given money to animal charities, and occasionally I will hear something like, "Why don't you do something to help PEOPLE instead?" 1) How do you know I don't? 2) None of your business.

- Travel, especially international travel, does have a carbon footprint (from air travel mostly) and it's expensive. But the "you could have been doing X instead with all that money" crowd is mostly silent when it comes to spending lots of money on travel; I think because it's held in a kind of sacred awe by the (mostly lefty) people who criticize conspicuous consumption so it's above all criticism, and also it's not coded female. I'm not anti-travel. I am pointing out that it does have a carbon footprint and does cost money that could be spent on charity, just like handbags or whatever.

I'm not saying "let's never critique consumption." I am saying that what is being consumed, and by whom, really does read into at least some of the criticism.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:15 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Youtube suggested her "Updated 2017 Handbag collection" video to play next, so I let it. It turned out to be a half-hour catalog of the several dozen bags she had (acquired during this year? for use this year? I'm not sure).

Reader, I watched the entire thing. The format would have been instantly recognizable to anyone who has watched a hiking or biking gear video: name of the item, the "origin story" of that purchase, special features, the scenarios for which it is especially suited, care instructions.

I laughed out loud at her comment that the dust bags for the Coach Ace Satchel and the Coach Swagger each fit the other bag better than their own. In case any of her viewers owned both these $300-$400 handbags and were bothered by the sizing of their handbags' dust bags. (Yo dawg...)

But I'm absolutely sure that she has such viewers. It's exactly the same rabbit hole of model number memorization and hoarding that you get at hammockforums.net. All she's missing is a tactical benchtop thread injection tool and a 200-post comment thread debating how best to sew the corners.

This was delightful, thanks.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:48 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


For better or worse, I don't have the puritanical impulse that apparently a lot of people in this thread do.

I have worked hard to ENJOY spending money (instead of it stressing me out), and enjoy spending it I do.

On Thursday, I took a coworker out for a farewell happy hour and ordered us lots of wings and Cadillac margaritas and told the waiter the bill was on me. The bill itself was extravagant and I tipped extravagantly and it was SO FUN. I loved that I could do that. There have been many years that I couldn't, and YEAH, I felt like hot shit. I LOVE having money to spend just for the fun of spending it.

I don't begrudge this woman for owning things just for the fun of owning them.

When I got a new job years ago, my friend reminded me that now, I could now Yuppie it up and go to Barnes & Noble and browse with a Starbucks vanilla chai latte if I wanted. I WANTED. Again, felt like hot shit and loved that this was spending just for pure pleasure. The fact that it WASN'T useful or utilitarian spending in the least is what was good about it.

Like a fucking sand mandala. The point is that there's no real point.

I am not a natural collector or even a natural spender, but I have worked hard to become generous with my money -- including becoming generous toward myself.

I hate cheapness. To me, it's a lack of generosity and it bugs me in a person. It makes me think the person is cold-hearted. It does make me think less of someone when they're cheap. And I mean cheap, not frugal, although of course that's always a fuzzy line. I won't ever be down on someone for not being able to spend money on something, because if you don't have it, you don't have it. Everyone has rough patches. But I do get down on people for being miserly, greedy, selfish. For me, that's a very different beast.

That said, I should "invest" a lot more into my professional and even personal wardrobe. In fact, I know I need to go down to Marshall's today and get some more blouses for the summertime. And yes, some more shoes and maybe a bag. Otherwise, I will wear everything down to nubs and look utterly unprofessional while doing it. I have been dreading this shopping trip, but it's my responsibility to look a certain way and so I need to be responsible and do it.

I have zero resentment toward this woman for collecting handbags, and actually admire that she's so put together and polished that she sports genuinely nice things around town. I don't feel more virtuous than her for carrying around the same old bag for a year and never bothering to change it or even clean it out. It makes me lazier and sloppier than her, if anything.

One day, I want to drive a Cadillac, wear Chanel suits to work, wear Coach flats on the weekends, have my hair professionally cut and maybe Divacurled or whatever, all that stuff. Yes that is all about image and looks, but I want to have an image that people respect and that I'm proud of. I want to feel like a million bucks. I don't begrudge anyone else that and I wouldn't begrudge myself. Your mileage always varies, of course.
posted by rue72 at 11:34 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Like a fucking sand mandala

So go the days of our lives.
posted by bongo_x at 12:36 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I do want to point out that some of the criticism about price points for certain items strikes me as inherently odd.

I mean, okay, if we're concerned about the cost of some things, like why people should pay $250 for jeans instead of $30 jeans from walmart and send the $220 to charity... shouldn't we also consider that those $30 jeans are only $30 because of cheap labor in sweatshop conditions in a developing country? And then the argument becomes whether you should buy those $30 sweatshop jeans instead of the $250 small-batch, local and responsibly sourced designer jeans.

Do you give the $220 to charity and wear jeans made from the tears of poor people, but knowing that maybe $10 of that goes to helping their economy grow? Or do you pay $250 to not take part of the horrible labor market but then get criticised for "conspicuous consumption" for wearing something that's more expensive than it should be, at least for some?
posted by anem0ne at 2:51 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Im not ever going to tell someone they should or shouldn't buy something. Im not going to tell them handbags are frivous but shoes are not. I don't want to be the one that decides those things, those things are personal choices. Everyone has to draw their own lines. But if someone looks to me like they have no lines at all, like the only thing they want is to show the world how much money they haveto burn, then Goddamn, I'm going to silently judge the hell out of them. I think discussions like this are great because maybe its a chance for some people to see that not everyone envies their boat or their handbag or their Mercedes. Maybe some of us find those items repulsive. If you're really, truly into your car because its a thing of stunning mechanical art or whatever, Im sure you could give a crap about what I think and I doubt you really worry over much about being judged for your passions. (Im really in to chickens and I give not one fuck what other people think of my chicken keeping hobby, chickens aren't for everyone) But if theres something else going on, a need to flaunt your wealth and importance with physical stuff, then knowing some people see right through that and aren't at all impressed, might rub you a little raw...
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:52 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


What would you say to the simple fact that there are finite resources and the happiness that one derives from an expensive dinner is much less than the happiness that would be derived from feeding several starving persons with the same money?

I'll be honest, it really depends on who those starving people are, and what that expensive dinner is.
posted by anem0ne at 2:56 PM on June 11


And then the argument becomes whether you should buy those $30 sweatshop jeans instead of the $250 small-batch, local and responsibly sourced designer jeans.

And it seems that such jeans actually exist.

That said, I would bet hard money that "local and responsibly sourced" is not a major factor in most decisions to buy expensive, status brand jeans/whatever .
posted by she's not there at 3:58 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I know a cheap way for her to store all of those baygs.
posted by hairless ape at 7:06 PM on June 11


My partner and I have developed a three-pronged response to various sexual acts people get up to:

1. That is hot and I might like to try it.
2. That squicks me (though I do not judge the people for whom it is hot).
3. Huh...so that's a thing people do.

We were having a lot of sex a couple of years ago and trying out a whole lot of new things, and we did some foot-related stuff and it was just...nothing. Didn't bother us or make us uncomfortable, but wasn't really hot in any way either. So that's a thing people do, we said to each other. Huh.

I feel that way about this woman and her handbags. I love a really functional bag, and I've bought a couple of really pleasing and unique bags from Etsy sellers over the years, but I usually only own one bag at a time and I use it until it wears out. The aesthetic appeal of handbags is almost entirely lost on me, and the idea of having to move my things from one bag to another on a regular basis seems kind of exhausting. But then I'm very boring about fashion in general.

Anyway: high-end handbag collecting. So that's a thing people do.

Would you like to see my collection of various editions of Song of Myself, including a beautiful handmade version I paid $55 for even though I already owned multiple copies of the poem itself? No? Huh. There's no accounting for taste, I guess.
posted by Orlop at 7:17 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I'm all for silent judging, that's the best kind.
posted by bongo_x at 7:27 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


This showed up on my FB feed today, and it feels on topic here. The President Emerita of MOMA sold a Lichtenstein for $150M to start a fund aimed at reducing mass incarceration.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:36 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


1) Cheap stuff is rarely ethical,
2) The idea that "stuff" is inherently evil is insane. Even the idea that conspicuous consumption on its own is evil is a little insane? We are human animals, we like stuff and we have social signifiers, just like before our modern money system came about. I agree that the system is fucked, but mostly due to capitalists doing anything to a) drive costs down b) enlarge profits. So who the fuck can give a shit; very few people give ALL their disposable income to charity, and you have no idea how this woman or most people use their relatively (relatively) modest amount of money, whether they give to charity, help their families, etc. I really doubt that guilting people for using their disposable income to enjoy their lives and free time while we all live under the jackboot is going to save society.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:52 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


The idea that "stuff" is inherently evil is insane.

Obligatory: Their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:13 AM on June 12


[Couple comments removed, take it down a notch.]
posted by cortex at 12:32 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


[klang, you're coming off like you're on one of those convinced-you're-entitled-to-be-a-jerk things that happens now and then and you need to cut it out pronto.]
posted by cortex at 1:24 PM on June 12


Note that ethical or not is rarely linked to price. One of the reasons you can get cheap and almost indistinguishable knockoffs of all those Louis Vuitton bags and such (to the point where the manufacturers push through specific and very strict laws against "counterfeits") is that they're often made in the very same factories in China, running an unauthorised night shift, using the same machines and the same materials.

The only stuff that's not made like that is the extremely high-end, handmade everything models, but those aren't a few hundred bucks, they're a few thousand, not because they cost that to make, but because that's what some assholes are willing to pay for them.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:10 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


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