On Nordstrom’s website, you can buy a pair of PRPS Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans for the low, low price of $425. These jeans are unique in that, according to the website, they “…embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.” Ummmm…
The irony here is that most hard-working Americans that would actually do the work that would get their jeans muddy would never buy a pair of jeans for $425. In fact, this is kind of an affront to hard-working Americans. And as I see the divide between the richest 1% of Americans and the rest of us who have to work for a living widen more and more, this is kind of an affront to all of the hard working people I know. I remember one guy I grew up with who thought it was a waste and refused to buy jeans over $20. I think today it’s nothing over $30.
As a parent, who is trying to raise children who value people over material things and to use the tool of money, wisely, this is just another symbol of how ludicrous advertising and marketing can become. It’s another lesson among so many in navigating the waters of capitalist America and still coming out with your soul intact. I know how hard these waters are, though, especially when you are a teenager trying to fit in and bullies everywhere are using any sign of status as an excuse to put someone down.
I remember wanting Guess jeans and watches as a teenager and Nike and, well, the list goes on. Through the indulgence of grandparents and other family members, I sometimes would get little coveted pieces of clothing. And I think it’s because I had a big disconnect with money at the time. When I was in my late teen years and had a job and the ability to buy my own clothes, I tended towards thrift shops and Goodwill and being creative. I was fortunate enough to have great friends who thought that it was cooler to do that and was deeply ensconced in the arts community which valued the creativity so I was largely sheltered from any bullying.
As my children have and are navigating the teenage years, I see the pressure again. Different brand names, same need to fit in. And I admit that I have given in on the pressure every once in awhile for Christmas and birthday gifts. I blame the soft spot in my heart. The part that doesn’t want them to feel any pain ever again and to always feel like they are the greatest thing the world has to offer. Because, well, I feel that way about them and I want the rest of the world to see that, too. But that’s not the way things work, is it?
So, I think I will continue with the same mantra that I seem to be saying over and over again to them. Some version of – well, we could buy those jeans OR we could go to Disney or buy that Xbox360. Or, hey, let’s just save our money and go play games together so that we can take more vacation time this year to be with each other. You know, asking yourself the question again and again – what things do I really value? And I hope the answer will always be for me and my children – friends, family, loved ones and being financially free.