I’ll admit, right at the beginning of this post, that I may be looking at things in a stereotypical manner. I realize that everyone has different reasons for noticing certain things, but I ran into a situation the other day that made me think. I was in the local Applebee’s and the two women in the booth in front of me were having a loud conversation. (I don’t tend to eavesdrop, but good grief, if you’re having a conversation at full volume you have to expect to be heard.) Anyway, they were talking about clothes, bags, and shoes. The conversation started with them talking about some outfit that they had seen on a mutual friend. Evidently, the outfit was expensive, but the woman in question didn’t wear it well. The two women were making unkind remarks about the third woman. I just sort of rolled my eyes and kept on eating.
After a few minutes, a woman came into the restaurant all dolled up in designer wear. The two women noticed and immediately started breaking down her outfit, accessories, and even her cell phone. They knew all of the designers/manufacturers of everything she was wearing and proceeded to make all kinds of judgments about this woman. They didn’t know her, that was clear. They were just making guesses about her income, family, etc. based on her clothes. They painted this woman has having a great job, great family, and lots of money.
Another woman came in dressed normally in jeans and a t-shirt and they started making the same judgments about her, only they weren’t as kind. This woman was labeled “trailer trash” and they figured she didn’t have any money, no life, and a poor job.
These two women were starting to get on my nerves, so I started to pay closer attention to them. They were both dressed very well, in what were either designer duds or knock-offs (I don’t know enough to tell the difference). Clearly they enjoyed looking at other people and making judgments about them based on their appearances. It was like a game for them. It got me thinking in general terms: Does what you notice about others say something about you?
Like I said at the beginning, I realize there could be any number of reasons these women were making comments about others that they did not know and what I’m about to say may be stereotypical, but I think it’s worth a thought. I think that these women noticed the clothes and accessories of others because they have a need to feel superior. They need to feel like their choices are validated. Therefore, everyone who dresses like them has a great life, while people who dress down are poor losers.
But who’s to say? The dressed down woman could have had a million bucks in the bank form a business she runs out of her home, therefore she has no need to dress up every workday. She could have been meeting her fabulous husband at the bar. The nicely dressed woman could have been in debt up to her eyeballs and just been laid off from her job. Her nice outfit could have been a bit of retail therapy to help her deal with the divorce papers her husband just served her with. What people wear or drive says very little about their true situation.
When you notice the luxury items of others, do you notice because you just happen to appreciate fine things, or are you envious of the alleged wealth of the owner? Do you look at their things and compare them to yours, looking for validation? Do you think, “Well, if she’s wearing Prada and has that fabulous life, then I made the right choice by spending my entire check on Prada?” If you look at people’s stuff with anything other than a passing glance or appreciation for fine workmanship, you need to ask yourself why. It’s a dangerous game to look at others and use them as validation for your own choices, or to assume that owning these things grants someone a wonderful life.
Things are just things. A shirt is a shirt and a bag is a bag. They don’t always tell the truth about their owners. Anyone with a charge card can buy designer wear. It doesn’t mean that they live a great life or that they have money. It might, but it’s just as likely that the owner has problems, issues, and bills stacked to the ceiling just like you do.
If you constantly notice cars, luxury clothes, watches, and handbags, that habit may say more about you than it does the owner. You may be trying to fill a void in your own life by coveting things, or mentally associating yourself with the owners of luxury goods. That’s not a healthy way to live. It makes you shallow. It’s fine to appreciate the finer things in life, but when that becomes the first and only thing you notice about people, it may be time to look at yourself and ask yourself what you’re trying to compensate for in your own life.