Saturday, January 26, 2008

Don't Judge "Barbie" Before You Get to Know Her

Via Mama Squirrel over at "Dewey's Treehouse", I came across a very interesting post by Rachel over at "The Simple Family" entitled "Image is Everything". In it, Rachel laments how some fellow moms she encountered at the gym made her feel self-conscious about living frugally. While I can certainly relate to those types of feelings living near Silicon Valley, I was very disturbed by her harsh stereotyping of the other moms:

"I realized I was surrounded by Barbies. Walking, talking Barbies who all weighed 10 pounds, looked perfect and seemed totally carefree....I felt as if I had accidentally wandered into the lobby of the Ford Modeling Agency and me and my unbrushed hair children did not fit in."

I suspect that if Rachel had encountered me at the gym I belonged to back when we lived in Massachusetts, she would've assumed that I was one of those evil McMansion-living, "Lexus Mini-Van driving, Prada-wearing, perfect hair, big white teeth" Barbies.

Would she realize that the cute workout clothes I was wearing were bought on sale at discount stores such as TJ Maxx or Target? Would she know that my "immaculately dressed" kids are wearing gifts, hand-me-downs, or consignment shop finds? Would she know that our family shares 1 economy vehicle, has no cable/satellite or land line, vacations with relatives, and rents a modest condo?

My appearance may bear a resemblance to a certain doll but that's almost entirely due to genetics. My DNA has programmed me to be blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, and to have an hourglass figure. That doesn't mean I'm automatically shallow, label-conscious, snobby, a spendthrift, and so on.

Would Rachel want me to judge her and her kids by their appearances alone without getting to know what they are really like? If the answer is no, then why would she judge my family simply by how we might look at first glance?


Anonymous said...

I read the blog and the comments, and I am going to come down on your side, CW. I don't see any virtue in sloppy dressing or unbrushed hair. Living simply and frugally does not mean slop and tatters. And what is the point of attempting to measure others, even in one's own mind? Where is all this envy and inadequacy coming from?

My dh and I live in a large house in a well-to-do neighborhood, and our income is considered below poverty level. Go figure.

We all make choices about how we want to live our lives, and I don't have the time or the motivation to speculate about the characters of others. Unless they attempt to rob me at gunpoint- then I might judge them very harshly. :p

Barbara Frank said...

I think her last line says it all:

"And, yet, sometimes, in the midst of it all, I feel like I’m back in junior high, feeling small and invisible."

The so-called socialization at school leaves wounds on some people that affect them into adulthood. One more reason I'm glad I homeschooled my kids.