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On social stereotype: How to deal with people who believe that dressing well "is very superficial"?

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  1. Dear TPFs! We are members and supportive of each other. The pool of reasons to be here reflects many interests, be it in luxury (jewelry, handbags), the consumption of specific goods or services, or to be on a platform where we can chit chat about ootd or our looks.
    In my life, I have lived in different contexts, including Eastern Europe, Westen Europe and North America. I have also worked in various fields, including corporations and academic positions. I have witnessed various attitudes towards the importance of dressing well in each environment and depending on your own career goals. Those attitudes are also different when it comes to spending money on one's appearance (spa, facial) and enjoying fashion or luxury. I feel that in some social situations where we confront with other people, we sometimes come too close to negative opinions about our love for luxury, fashion and makeup passions. And those people manage to really make us feel bad about what we buy. I hope that this thread will be beneficial for all of us, and help us deal with comments and confrontational situations. Here is my story:
    I went to North America for a job, and made some friends. My job is not in the fashion industry. Many of my friends and colleagues enjoy the outdoors, camping and the nature, regardless of the socio-economic status. Recently I got to hear comments such as "in Europe the appearance is so important for nothing" or "taking care of your looks is actually so superficial, there is so much more to life than how you look like" or "this is only a handbag, why did you pay XX$ for it when you can buy much cheaper?". And it goes on and on about shaving legs, getting a facial, getting the nails done, or buying something new, even if it is "only" zara and didn't cost much. The question is not even about whether one has to agree or not with those comments.... I know that we live in a consumer society, and that we are being influenced by luxury marketing who sell it all. But then, buying luxury and looking good are my biggest everyday rewards, and things that cheer me up on a rainy day. I never tell them "why you spend money on outdoors?" although to me it would be a waste of money and time. I never tell them that those comments are misplaced. So are questions about how much luxury handbags cost. I sometimes wonder how to lead those conversations next time and avoid those comments? It is all individual and no one has to say a word about those things.
    Comments and your stories are well appreciated here!

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  2. #2 Jul 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    Quick take: You know who you are; most of us know that about ourselves. Aside from "haters gonna hate," the point is, spend time with better people, or at least those who know your qualities well enough not to put you down. Everything else is extra. If it wasn't about dressing well it could be about your car, neighborhood, whatever else...it's an endless game that some like to play to make themselves feel better.
  3. Very well said! That's definitely a great insight! I would add to your list "education, family and partner" as those are points of discussion as well.
    And thanks for contributing, I feel very understood after reading your contribution!
    keodi and jimmie staton like this.
  4. It could help to explain it as a hobby. People spend money on nicer cars, boats, fishing gear (an outdoor example), golf gear, whatever. I don’t always look put together if I’m not going to work, but I do love looking nice and shopping. I don’t even buy things that often but I’ve always loved to look. I’ll still check our things I def won’t be buying like super high heels and wedding dresses (been married for 10+ years...) I just think fashion is art and I like looking. With my luxury items I do feel a degree of self-consciousness because I don’t want people to think I’m being braggy or showy. I legit love the classic look of the items I’ve purchased and enjoy looking put together. To me it’s a great to receive a compliment on my clothes, wherever it’s from, because I put time into it like any other hobby one might have.
    thebagqueen, dotty8, Hvalli and 3 others like this.
  5. There are different people and different cultures. Personally I would just change the subject to something we might have in common if I like them otherwise or have to spend time with them for other reasons.

    Dressing in a flattering way is an art in itself, a hobby for many and a requirement for some, I don't think it really requires any explanation.
    xiaoxiao, Luv2Scoop, Julide and 5 others like this.
  6. Ask them, “So what is wrong with superficial?” They will be dumbfounded and not able to respond!
    baghabitz34, baghagg, Hvalli and 5 others like this.
  7. I would just find people with your interests to hang out with. These people have a different thing going on.
  8. "I get pleasure from luxury items and experiences and grooming, probably the same way you get pleasure from camping or hiking or travel or renovating your home(or whatever it is they value). Everyone is different."
    If they persist then I would probably ask "Why is it so important to you how I spend my money and time?"

    Speaking as someone who grew up around similar attitudes in my family of origin it is probably coming from feeling like you are judging them as less than, jealously, insecurity, ignorance of the appeal of luxury, having a poverty mindset regardless of income, feeling like life should be a struggle, feeling that enjoying life is a sin etc etc.
    You are not going to change their mind, so I would just expect a certain amount of judgement and try to ignore it and enjoy your life.
    xiaoxiao, cryptopuppy, keodi and 9 others like this.
  9. Other than for work, where it isn’t a choice, I refuse to spend time with people who are negative about anything positive.

    I don’t like to hunt, mountain climb, square dance, have pets, knit... BUT, I am truly happy to engage with people on any of those topics or anything else they like that I don’t. Or (gasp) I can simply be quiet and polite with a Mona Lisa smile plastered on my face. So, I expect the same pleasantry and respect in return.

    I don’t see any reason someone would be negative about your grooming or purchases unless they are jealous, bitter in general or raised by obnoxious wolves.

    I’m perfectly ok with genuine, pleasant discussion and inquiry. Just like I would hope an avid golfer / Buddhist / woodworker would be patient with my really basic comments or questions since they have a passion or life approach I don’t share. But, the very few times anyone has rudely or presumptively questioned / commented on my approach or things I meet them head on with some form of “I see you are happy with less but, I don’t have the time or interest to train you on why you should want better.” That always ends the dumb bunny chatter.
    Mitzy, Jackie P, Lubina and 10 others like this.
  10. I agree with this. Interesting thread and I'm enjoying reading the comments so far. I appreciate people around me who take the time to present themselves well, and I try to learn from their approach. This doesn't mean the items have to be expensive! Some of the best dressers I know or have seen in the media have a wonderful ability to combine high/low fashions.

    I do think there can be a different in expectation/subtext in corporate vs. academic positions, as the original poster has experience in both. To the OP, hope you are able to continue enjoying your wardrobe/accessories without ongoing negativity from your colleagues. I hope they see your effort as a positive reflection of the regard you have for the people you come into contact with. Kind of like dressing appropriately for a celebration/party to acknowledge and honor the host and occasion.
  11. I have a few different points regarding this topic.

    First, I was raised with my grandmother who always taught me that dressing well is a form of good manners. By the same token, I do not look down on people who do not share this opinion.

    Secondly, I have separate circles of friends from all different walks of life. Some are outwardly “like me”. Appearance wise- we are similar. Enjoy fashion and makeup etc.. Other groups of friends are nothing like me on the surface. Very into nature, not into luxury whatsoever. Not that those two are mutually exclusive!!

    The common thread throughout ALL my friendships is that we respect one another. The similarities and the differences. It’s about appreciating that someone else appreciates something. Even when it’s far from your cup of tea.

    If someone cannot show you a baseline level of respect, then it’s a much deeper matter. Address them with grace, and ask that they respect your interests, as you respect theirs.
    xiaoxiao, keodi, eunaddict and 16 others like this.
  12. Yes this will be my next answer to those conversations! They always are open-minded but don't seem to accept that people like to take care of themselves....
  13. This is a very good way to express leadership without getting involved in a stupid discussion with no end. I really like the idea and will try it next time.
    jimmie staton and Aerdem like this.
  14. When people make negative comments about your appearance, or what you spend your money on they are trying to break down your core character of who you are. I would tell the negative person I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Just tell them you love being pampered and they should try it sometime.
    Lubina, antschulina and jimmie staton like this.
  15. Absolutely pjhm!:smile:
    I remember those people asking me what. I was doing in a big city I was visiting.
    I answered I spent my time walking around shopping malls.( which was true).
    They were speechless. !
    I added " Yes, I am a superficial lady":smile:
    No one was able to respond...