Scrolling down twitter this week, I came across a screenshot of a Made In Chelsea star proclaiming “YES!” to a quote which stated that poor people are only “creators of their own ‘misfortunes’”, because of their own personal negativity. She followed this on her Instagram story by sharing the heartfelt story about how she got where she is now via positivity and self-belief, by bravely dropping out of uni, starting a blog and moving to London. But she fails to mention that she borrowed money from family to enable her to do so. She says she paid them back every penny, so is that even relevant?
Of course it’s relevant.
It distresses me to see someone with so much social power, particularly over young people, proclaiming that you can do anything with self-belief and positivity, and that if you can’t, you just aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe I’m criminalising her too much; maybe she didn’t mean any harm by it, maybe she was genuinely trying to use her social power to mobilise and motivate people.
Sure, self-belief goes a hell of a long way to changing a life, but you know what? Family money goes a hell of a lot further in setting up a whole new life in London.
Why is it that the upper classes feel it is their place, particularly if they hold social influence – much like many of the Made In Chelsea cast who ‘speak-out’ against the inactivity of the poor, cough cough, ‘Queen of the Jungle’ Georgia Toffolo – to tell poorer people that their situation could be so easily avoided? Is it guilt? Is it the desperate need to validate their own champagne-fuelled existence, to prove to others, to themselves, that they have every right to be so much more financially privileged than the rest of us? Why does Mimi Bouchard think that people make up “some strange force over which they believe they have no control” to explain their poverty? Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t want to believe that it is the same “strange force” that made her be so luckily born into money? It’s far easier to believe that negative energy is the only thing that prevents someone born on a council estate from reaching her professional independence and success, rather than recognizing the social and economic hoops said person would have had to jump through that merely don’t exist in Bouchard’s own world.
Conversely, many middle and upper-middle class students take the opposite road. They don’t force the idea that poverty is self-made; instead, they try and deny their own wealth and privilege in a different way: by rejecting it. They dress like they’re poor, in their vintagely moth-eaten jumpers and expensively cheap-looking trackies, smoke rollies like they can’t afford straights, go to raves and take drugs like the people their parents probably bullied in the 90s, and complain about how ‘poor’ they are on their ‘tiny’ student loans, despite the fact that their rents are taken care of.
So to be completely Pulp ‘Common People’-y, whichever ‘high-road’ they take, the upper-class never understand what it’s actually like to BE poor, and have the social and economic obstacles that come with it. They’ll never understand, because they’ll always have the soft cushion of daddy’s bulging wallet to fall back on.