Maddy* furtively sips her caramel frappuccino, her eyes darting around the room. She told me she'd talk to me for a little bit and within five minutes, she has mocked my hair, my clothes and my weight, as she admits are the custom of her culture. She absently twirls her straight blonde hair and rolls her eyes. I didn't grow up in a place like Gladwyne, Pennsylvania and was allowed to communicate in other ways other than sighs and grunts and sneers.
"I'm so mad— I've asked for weeks for my parents to let me buy this really adorable Marc Jacobs dress and they totally won't. They are so awful. Don't they know how hard I work? Don't they know how I deserve this?"
She stares off into the middle distance. I note her Uggs. I've always thought that Uggs were over in 2008. That's what US Magazine told me and yet, they still endure as the go-to footwear amongst her and her peers. She moves her eyes slowly, looking at angry middle-aged woman clad in Tory Burch who is talking furiously on her Iphone. "That's my mom. She's such a bitch. She told me that she bought me 300$ worth of makeup today at Blue Mercury. She bought me some dresses at Free People. 'I did not need anything else.' and when I called her a greedy bitch, she told me I could go tell this all to my father if I wanted that dress."
Walking around suburban Pennsylvania, I noticed a lot of these young girls and their mothers, shopping together in the Junior's Section at the local vintage shop, eating their yogurt in almost a defiant silence. I followed Maddy and so many other girls that reminded me of her through Kate Spade, where they cooed as they looked at the brightly colored leather bags, murmuring and pointing at my bag, with the words "Target" dancing on the breeze. These young girls were left on their own, scrambling with only small squares of plastic, greedily grabbing at silk scarves. When I saw them giggling at Jack Wills at some skinny man in a LaCrosse sweatshirt who is making obscene finger gestures, I realized they were inextricably caught in a negative cycle. As they whispered amongst the festive striped cotton and wool dresses, they seemed oblivious about their fate to meet the tragic ends of their parents. They will repeat the terrible cycle of marrying a douchebag who becomes a venture capitalist, who then in turn, overindulges their children, who have their own hunger for designer handbags and then they will finally be called a bitch by their own children.
Maddy agreed to sit with me after getting into an argument with her mom. She told me that she was going to "totally major in French" even though her dad thought it was a waste of time and she was going to go study in France and frankly "he can fuck off if he doesn't like it. And my mom, she's such a major bitch." I think we should all value the choices were are allowed that young girls like Maddy aren't. I worked for several years in food services and then took out student loans and had scholarships, I didn't not know the pain of Maddy working for years to prepare for her trust-funded life, only to be limited by her parents grumbling about "practicality."
Maddy walked quickly out the door, narrowing her eyes at her mother. She smiled blandly as a gaggling of twittering young women in identical outfits walked by on her way to Sweetgreens for frozen yogurt.
So degrading. Maddy has internalized the patriarchal language of her people, she now speaks the words of the oppressor. I feel out of place in my sweater set from Coldwater Creek and my sandals that looks suspiciously like Birkenstocks. She'll never know the comfort that comes from really wearing a practical German inspired sandal.
Maddy whips her head around to me as she mindlessly stabs her ice cream. "Listen bitch, I'm done with your weird creepy interview." She puts the shiny sunglasses on her face and puts her manicured fingers up, "I'm done with you. Go back to your lentils and your butter churn."
The interview was over, but my thoughts about Maddy and her friends weren't. And when you sit down tonight, watching your prestige television with your practical footwear, consider giving to people like Maddy, whose bitch of a mother never would buy her the fucking dress that she wanted.