Rich Women Intimidate Me. Why? Caitlin Abber

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been paranoid that other women are getting some sort of memo that I am missing out on.

This hypothetical memo varies every month (season?) but includes important topics like:

  • What thin/skinny actually is/looks like.
  • Which brand the hot new ballet flats/bag will be this season.
  • How much money is acceptable to spend at any given time.
  • The importance of wearing Spanx and how to wear them comfortably so they don’t roll up your thighs/down your stomach.
  • The ability to remember to write thank you notes, bring gifts, help the other women clean up from dinner and how to make backhanded compliment without anyone really noticing.

In my twisted vision, this memo is sent out the wealthiest, dewiest, richest smelling women first and then it trickles down to other high rollers – girls with secret money, a few diamond things and Kate Spade shoes and bags. Between those women and women like me, the memo gets lost in the mail. Come events where I am in the same room with the memo-receivers, it becomes painfully obvious to everyone that some important info has literally flown over my head.

I don’t wear labels. I am unfamiliar with many of the new exercise/diet/cleansing trends. All of my jewelry is costume. My hair is never exactly how I want it to be or half as nice looking as everyone else’s. I don’t really know how to make small talk. I have a hard time listening. Babies/weddings/fancy things I can never afford mostly bore me. I sometimes worry if I am a terrible woman, or if women are just generally interested in terrible things. I hope people don’t think I am a jerk for saying all this (oh, there I go again!)

This insecurity, which, let’s be real, that is what it is – stems from a childhood where I was bullied for not having all the cool things (like American Girl dolls and bubble making necklaces), and picked on for being more interested in nature, books, and art than, well, hair. It was hard for me to make girlfriends, and therefore impossible for me to learn how to do 75% of girl things. And even though over time I have found ways to compensate for the remaining 25% (nails did, trendy clothes, colored lips), I still almost always feel like the odd duck when I am in a crowd of fancy women. They intimidate the hell out of me. I put on a good front, but I often shrink inside when I look at their perfection, compared to my ragamuffin aesthetic (which is literally something my boyfriend called me the other day). What’s more, I often feel like I am left out of planning events, picking out clothes, or choosing restaurants because I just don’t know what is the hot thing for wealthy women at any given time. It sucks to be in the group because I don’t really want to or know how to talk about any of that stuff …but then it sucks to be excluded from it as well.

I don’t think Mitt Romney would let any of his sons date me. Not that I would want to necessarily date them, but still…

Whenever I do try to be fancy, I almost always feel like I am putting on heirs. I come into a little extra dough form like, a tax refund or something, and suddenly I am all feasts. I order magazines I’ve always wanted subscriptions to. Buy a Clarisonic. Plan an expensive Saturday night out. I live the life that I imagine most upper middle class women live every day until my wallet shrivels back into a prune, and I feel guilty about purchasing that $25 NARS Heatwave lipstick I’ve wanted forever.

I make myself crazy. It seems like such a dumb thing to care about all this nonsense, and yet here I am, always feeling bad for myself. I know deep down that it’s a waste of time, money, and character to try and keep up with people who just generally have more, and yet…

…And yet it seems like something a lot of women in their late 20s do. We aspire to be as beautiful as possible. We want rings, big diamond ones. We want perfect houses, fresh sheets, and mildew free showers. We want people to be able to drop by without us having to scramble to wash the dishes and make the bed first. We never want to have to say we can’t afford something. Does it smell like cat pee in here? We want to never have to worry about that. The Kardashian’s never worry about that. Beyonce never worries about that. People with cleaning ladies hardly ever do. We want cleaning ladies. And I would venture to guess that most cleaning ladies want cleaning ladies too.

I work really hard for what I have, but what I get from it never seems like enough. There is always something bigger, shinier, thinner and more expensive to aspire to (especially in New York, where I live). And the question remains – At what point (if ever) do you have everything you need in order to be the woman you want to be? Can we ever stop feeling competitive?

Do you guys go through this as well?

Image via Shutterstock

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  1. I can totally relate. One of the reasons I was teased and bullied in school was because of my clothes. I was always told I am fat and ugly. Even when I thought I looked nice, I was put down. I avoid upscale places where those women may be so I don’t have to face them or worse yet, have them laugh at my horrible outfits and fat body. I would love to be well dressed and beautiful but I guess there are more important things in life.

  2. Hey, Lisa Simpson, unless you’re wearing a coat made of Prince Harry’s skin, the expression is “putting on airs”.

  3. ” There is always something bigger, shinier, thinner and more expensive to aspire to (especially in New York, where I live).”

    This one sentence says it all to me. I remember feeling this way in HS when everyone cool seemed to live in A&F and sneakers that cost more than my whole wardrobe at the time. But when I moved to NYC thats when I really felt sooooo out of place.

    I felt a little better when I was talking to a hairstylist desperately trying to find what I was apparently failing to do to make my hair so perfect and shiny and bouncy and all the things that make me furiously envious walking down the street. She, laughed at me (not easing the tension), and then told me that most real NY women with perfect hair get it done at least twice a week. So I felt a little better…… I guess

    Then of course one of my male co-workers who has one of those uber-fab NY Princess Daughters caught me painting my own nails at my desk and said, “You do your own nails?” As if I was enbalming the dead in own kitchen. THE NERVE!

    Well at least you are not alone :/ !?

  4. There were many times when I also felt this way, but around a year ago
    I got over it. As beautiful as the other (richer) women looked, I realized
    that I didn’t actually want to look like them. This led me to create
    “new” clothes out of my current outfits. Sewing in beads or some sort of
    cute designs. There are still moments when I feel slightly uncomfortable, but
    then I’m comforted by my own individuality, because looking
    like everyone else really sucks sometimes.

  5. I think they’re a joke! Living off of men’s money. Some have never held a job or made a firm life impacting decision for themselves. It’s all about vanity. God forbid they find a Kate Spade Purse at Goodwill. They love drama, judgement and to bully other women. To me, deep down they are cowards and are very insecure and scared to take on the world – independently. They will never know the value of integrity, strength and real independence.

  6. You are not alone. I think it is incredibly normal to feel this way, especially in our materialistic crazed world. Honestly, though, even those women who seem so put together, on point, practically psychic when it comes to knowing what to wear, what to say, how to smile, breathe, think, etc, are likely feeling the very same thing – the need to compete with everyone else so that they will be accepted. The really seemingly perfect ones put a lot of time, money, and energy into this facade, so don’t worry, at least you aren’t wasting as much time on all this stuff. But alas, feeling inadequate must be a syndrome of being in our 20s. Nothing ever seems good enough, no matter how hard we try. Maybe we just feel better knowing most of us are in a similar boat.

  7. UGH, you’re describing my life almost to a T. I’ve those same thoughts, too. I often think to myself, ‘Why do I have to worry about this? I’m pretty sure [insert wealthy celebrity here] does not have to worry about this crap!’
    And whenever I’m around women that just radiate ‘fanciness’ I just try to do my best but inside I just feel like a shriveling flower.

    Especially in this day and age, when everything is so costly and expensive, it just baffles my mind how some women can just drop $500 on a couple of purses Tuesday morning while they leisurely shop around. My scenario is that you will be find me Tuesday morning slaving away at my job working hard for my money and pinching pennies everywhere I can.

    Oftentimes I try to feel proud of my life and my hard-earned money and the way I try to save money and be frugal but, sometimes it just feels like too much and like you, when I stumble upon a bit of money, I will buy myself the make-up, the purse, the lipstick and then I feel empty afterwards. IDGI. I guess it must be a natural part of being in our late 20s and trying to find our place in society. Maybe it’ll pass when we’re older and we appreciate the things that really do matter more. *SHRUGS SHOULDERS*

  8. This describes me since the day I stepped into my private school kindergarten class full of fancy kids with my knee socks pushed to my ankles and my braids falling out. It does not matter how hard I try to wake up early to pull myself together I still feel like that kindergartner when I leave for work in the morning. As a girl from the Northeast who just recently moved to the Southern Belle capital of the world, I can say this it is possible for a blond-haired, (insert trendy name-brand here)-wearing, 43-year-old mother to look hotter than a 24-year-old ragamuffin.

    I’ve found that gratitude often leads to contentment. Fortunately for me, “weird” is now known as “quirky” and wearing clothing your grandmother wore in high school is fashionable. I knew my time would come!

  9. I used to feel like that for a long time, now in my 30′s I had to figure out what really made me happy. I’m with you; I don’t care for labels or “stuff” that people think they want. I’m healthy, happy, have great friends who love to eat anything. It’s hard to not get caught up in things of the world or what society tells us what we should want but it sounds like you are a responsible adult and you work hard for what you have. If we keep thinking we don’t have enough, we never will have enough. There has to be a point where we enjoy what we have and anything else is just icing on the cake. Just let ourselves be happy.

  10. Amen!

  11. i’m pretty sure you and me are the same person. except, i’m not from greenpoint.. but my parents, mostly all my family, and boyfriend are!

  12. Thank you! I’ve been feeling like this lately, nice to know I’m not crazy!

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