Privilege Blog

Shiny Purple Things

Money is a funny thing. Complicated.

I have to admit. I didn’t really buy that purse so that people would know my family had money. That would have been silly. Vuitton does not use pictures of my father’s old family estate as logos, now do they? I just started writing and got carried away with the concept. Made me laugh. And I do so appreciate your comments and compliments.

Still, my confession holds true in that I bought the purse in part so people would think I was a person with resources. That wasn’t an exaggeration. Above and beyond the sheer prettiness of objects I have a desire to signal that I am someone with resources, despite my tendency to wear my son’s old khakis and white Jockey t-shirt with flip flops.

Why? Why do that? Why on earth do I care? Shouldn’t anything I have achieved be enough? And if not, shouldn’t I focus my attention instead on a plan to achieve more? How about my innate value as a person, as an incarnation of the shocking beauty of life? Yes. Ideally, yes. But I also ask, am I harming anyone. I hope not. Were I to build an exclusive club, join it, wear its logo, bar others from joining, and walk the streets in search of someone to humiliate, that would be something else entirely. But this is just a sparkly, dark, purple/brown, purse.

You know, we are who we are. Oh, never, ever give up the endeavor to do better. That’s important. But at a certain point you do more damage through your distress over your feelings than through the feelings themselves. So. This is me. This is me and money. Might as well put it out there in case someone younger than I can benefit. Complicated. Lots of family and personal history. Possibly this is a useful fact. A woman with a shiny purple purse may have some doubts, somewhere, about something. The next time you are confronted with someone who has something shiny, even shiny people themselves, consider this. They probably have their doubts.

Everything I am saying is true. It may or may not matter.

13 Responses

  1. Totally have doubts but if a pretty new bag makes you feel happy–even for just a moment, what else do we have. (besides going to the spa) xoxo

  2. It's been my experience – limited as it is – that people who have always had money (at least people of the High WASP variety) don't generally buy things to show the world how well off they are.

    If the pretty shiny purple purse makes you happy, why on earth would you have to justify to anyone?

  3. You are right. And I am sure that part of what goes on here is that I had money growing up. I can't say how I behave if I still had that kind of money.

  4. There are a few things that I own that I enjoy when people comment on them. C'mon, we DO have ego's!

    I don't necessarily buy things just for the sole purpose of letting others know that I CAN, it's because I adore whatever it is that I bought. It seems you love this shiny bag (as do I…well done madam) so let it alone at that.

    You are over thinking it. Just enjoy.
    And when you're done with it…I'll give you my address. I'll even send you the pre-paid shipping box.

  5. You know, I agree that you might be overthinking your purse. (BTW, it is lovely). Of course, you do need to think about one thing: you are 52, you bought a purple purse, can a red hat be too far off in the distance? The mind reels.

  6. know exactly how you feel and you're right in that what you're doing isn't hurting anyone.

    live and let live. if you've got the resources, buy what you like!


  7. I think as far as LV goes…. that is very subtle indeed. And as far as any "purses" go, it is just plain beautiful!! Appreciation of all impeccable design is probably a high WASP value… right?
    Your ongoing discussion of high WASPness and handbags and fashion has got me thinking recently about how much local flavor colors behaviors considered WASP-like. For example, I've had the pleasure of knowing several southern WASPs who were just as comfortable in navy as they were in striking bold colors. Or is WASP confined to New England for its origins and all inspirations thereafter? This is something I've been curious about for ages. I think I've gathered you have experience on both coasts… perhaps you could shed some light on differences, if any exist?

  8. I like your analysis of your bag…today's status bag, the status symbols of your upbringing-it is all fascinating reading.

    (forgive me for asking…I am dying to know, does your father still live in the 35 room estate that your college roommate thought was a hotel?)

  9. Money and the objects it can provide are such tricky things. I agree with most of the above; if the purse makes you happy, that is enough. If it provides some sort of comfort in what it may signal to others and, as you said, no one is being harmed, then I say what the hell, have at it. You are only being honest about something most of us feel at one time or another.
    At any rate, it's certainly an interesting discussion, isn't it?

  10. Money is meant to be spent…and spending it on things that make you happy is the best possible way.

    All being thought, said, written as I unpack my yellow, red and brown python Prada shoes!!

  11. Lipstick, my dad has moved. He's up in the hills now. Amy, there are clear regional differences. I alluded to them before – I am only knowlegeable in the arena of coastal WASPs:), of the Northeastern and Californian species…Anyone from the rest of the country, please chime in. Thanks everyone for processing this with me. That's what we say in Silicon Valley.

  12. I've been distracted the last couple of days, but had to come back and comment on this post, as I was so struck by the honest and open grappling you're doing with a touchy subject. Not having come from money, part of me always wonders what it must be like to busy such spendy wardrobe items, and I so much appreciate that you're willing to share part of that. And I love the way you say, straight up, "You know, we are who we are" — and that you caution that "A woman with a shiny purple purse may have some doubts, somewhere, about something."

  13. Insightful (and, beneficial) post. I will def think a little more about it, esp the bit about one's response to one's feelings often being more destructive than the feelings themselves. I must say, I get uncomfortable about the whole 'if you have the resources then buy it' attitude (see QBS). That doesn't work for me.

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