People on Quora were asked: “What’s classy if youre rich, but trashy if you’re poor?” These are some of the most insightful answers.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are not the views of Gateway Media, Knowable, or it’s affiliate companies. The people volunteering answers are giving examples of inequality between socioeconomic situations and are not trying to uphold a dichotomy between “poor” and “rich”, nor are they passing judgment on those whose situations may mirror the below examples.
1. Doing any job, even the ones which areconsidered to be socially degrading
Now, now hearme out first before you ignore and move on.
Consideryourself to be a millionaire or a billionaire. You have all the riches in theworld or at least you have the wealth to live a decent life. Now, one day youwant to quit everything and try something new in life. A new career. Trydifferent job(s). Try out a new life. Why?? Because you want to gain newexperience and knowledge in something which you have never tried before.Before, you were a CEO but you quit, not fired. You just chose a different pathbecause you got bored of your previous life and wanted to experience somethingnew. You take up a job of a cleaner/janitor and spend a life in the slums. Youdo that for a year or so, just to see how it feels to be living like a poor.Then after a year you come back to your old lifestyle and now you have newstories to tell and new memories to cherish. Friends and relatives raise atoast every time you mention your new yet different experience. Cheerio!
But now, imagine a person who is poor in general and doesthe job of a cleaner and live in the slums. Even though many people might notjudge or call it trashy but he/she will be regarded as a person who couldntachieve anything significant in life (monetary/wealth wise).
2. Eating animalsparticularly their offal, or internal organs
Whilst this may seem rather unappetizing in general, offal is considered a gourmet delicacy in much of fine diningsuch as pajata (veal intestines), Italian cibreo (chicken giblets), ankimo (monkfish liver), and most famously, foie gras (duck liver).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, consuming offal in poorer populations has commonly been deemed necessary, and thus trashywhere you cant waste any of the animal.
Even though much of this is now eaten out of culture and tradition, dishes like chitterlings (pork intestines), haggis (sheep lungs, intestines, etc.) and rocky mountain oysters (bull testicles) wont be considered classy any time soon.
3. It’s all about the optics
Practically everything can be seen as classy if you’re rich because you have the means to do otherwise but choose to act a certain way out of enjoyment and not desperation.
If Bruce Wayne were poor, hed be locked up instead of an eccentric billionaire and the Batman we all know and love.
If you did anything that seemed like you were doing it out of fear or ignorance, it would be seen as cheap/inconsiderate/ignorant vs. expressive and statement-making. You would still seem trashy despite having a hefty salary/financial safety net. However, if you’re choosing to live minimally in a way that makes a statement about your personal preferences and political stances, that shows the intrinsically motivated actions instead of the desperation that comes from a fear of external circumstances.
4. Big jewelry
Wearing really big pieces of jewelry as a woman (like a ten-carat diamond ring, a huge statement necklace, etc.) either means you are quite wealthy, or you are lower-class, trashy, and gaudy (or you are a teenager).
Where I come from, big earrings and pendants are almost entirely for teenage girls and all upper-middle-class women wear tiny minimalist pieces.
When it comes to rich people gambling, it can be overlooked as a hobby, or even an obsession. Win or lose, it wont be seen as such a bad thing, as they have the money to spare.
On the other hand, for a poor person to gamble, its almost automatically considered an addiction, something they should stop as it could ruin them.
I think one phrase by multimillion dollar poker player, Collin Carrel, sums it up perfectly: The fine line between obsession and addiction is success.
6. Getting married at a personal residence
If youre rich its classy. Tabloids will praise it for being a low-key affair, involving only close family members, and not having spent a fortune for a one-day event. They will even respect your need for privacy on such an important day.
If youre poor its trashy. Youll attract a lot of sympathy for not being able to afford a decent venue, a long list of guests and an overpriced attire. No tabloids would be interested in covering your story and you may also be the recipient of tongue lashing from people who did not make the cut.
7. Doing nothing
If youre rich, doing nothing is classy for a number of reasons. Youre relaxing, youre taking it easy, youre liberating yourself from this horrible and stressful world. Thats good for your mental/physical health, right? Since youre not preoccupied, you get to take in and appreciate all of the wonderful things that life has to offer. Golly, you sure know how to live, if youre rich and you can spend time doing nothing!
If youre poor, doing nothing is trashy because it makes you come across as lazy, and perhaps you wouldnt be so poor if you got up off your [butt] and did something. Doing nothing for the same reasons as a rich person isnt acceptable when youre poor.
8. Who cares for your child
If you are rich, not devoting all of your time to your child is acceptable. It is acceptable for your child to spend more time with a nanny or au pair than with you. as it is automatically assumed that your time is more valuable. It is okay for you to hire or use outside help whether that be paid or another family member as you are working or socialising. Many wealthy people will hire a nanny for their children when they are young and then will send them to flexi boarding school when they are old enough.
However if you are poor or a single parent there is more stigma attached to this as it can often be seen as a sign that you cannot balance your home work life and look after the child that you have birthed. There is an unspoken rule that a poorer parent should be able to do everything, especially if they choose not to work, something that does not exist if you are rich.
9. Being an alcoholic
Rich person: man, I can’t believe I totalled dad’s Rolls Royce and got a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol) charge. Please God, help me! Mom! Dad! Bro and Sis! I need help, please check me in to treatment! I’m so sorry
Reaction: Aw, he’s so mature! Hang in there! You are NOT an alcoholic, you just have a small issue holding your alcohol. You can get through rehab! We love & support you! Don’t worry about the damages, the insurance will cover it. Just focus on getting well soon xoxo 🙂 let’s fly you out to a 50K rehab program in Colorado 🙂
Poor person: Man, I can’t believe I totalled mom’s 91Camry and I got a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol) charge. I don’t know how I’ll pay it off or how she’ll get to work. Please God, help me! Mom, I need help, please check me in to treatment! I’m so sorry
Reaction: Ugh, can you BELIEVE this [jerk]? Risking everyones safety because he couldn’t afford to take a cab. Typical rural trash, it’s your fault you’re in this mess! Go get a payday loan or a second job if you can’t afford to pay for the damages. Stupid.
10. Wasting food
I knew a guy during my college days. He was filthy rich. I mean he had everything that others could dream of, you know, making his heads turn with his new cars and sports bikes, wearing expensive stuff, loud, arrogant and of course, flaunting way too much.
Somehow we got along in a common gang with mutual friends and hung out a lot. I remember him wasting food every time we all would go out to eat. And a lot of it. Not that he hated eating. He was a big time foodie. But he liked to show off that he does not eat up everything in the plate and leave at least one-third of it.
I think it was dumbest thing I saw him do, among his other dumb show-offs. I mean, what would you prove by wasting that very food which you were hogging a few minutes ago?
That day, I got to learn something weird. If you’re rich and you waste food, then it’s absolutely fine. It looks classy. It makes you look rich. But if you’re poor and you waste it, you’re simply arrogant and ungrateful.
11. Used clothing
Though its not as trendy now, when I was growing up, rich kids were really into thrift shore shopping for used and vintage clothing. (The word vintage is basically a synonym for classy used stuff.) Different variants of used clothes were popular with different upper-income subcultures: used bellbottoms for hippy kids, used gas station shirts that said Bob for skater kids, and thrift store flannels etc. for grunge kids etc. But the poor kids who had to shop at thrift stores or wear hand-me-downs were usually not too proud about this and usually strongly preferred new clothing when they had the chance.
12. Sitting at [a coffee shop] using the internet
If a rich person sits at [a coffee shop] on their $2000 MacBook Pros drinking overpriced coffee, obviously he’s doing really well.
But when poor people sit there on their prepaid smartphones, they are hassled by employees to stop taking a table, even if they buy the cheapest snack or cup of coffee just to be there. I used to study at a Starbucks near me and I saw the manager try to force a man out when he was there for a while on his phone looking for work. I overheard his conversations to schedule interviews at jobs and saw him browsing Craigslist. He even bought a small coffee and a snack bar too. It’s sad that business men can use free internet but it’s bad if homeless do.
I stopped going there after seeing that and gave the man money. He didn’t ask but clearly needed it and was trying. He was divorced and he had to give up his kids and house and during that time he lost his job and was trying to find a new one. I felt bad.
13. Being extremely passionate about a creative field
If you’re successful, spending most of your waking life painting, making music or writing fiction is considered desirable. You are talented and/or recognized enough to deserve it. Or you worked enough to concentrate on your passions.
I think what most people don’t understand is that it’s not a choice. Nobody just decides to be passionate about something. Also, a creative mind is one who has no tolerance for boredom. A 9 to 5 job is psychologically painful. Which means that often, creative people will be perceived as being lazy. That is, if they’re poor.
Before becoming rich, many well-known artists were seen as delusional. During his lifetime, Van Gogh was considered pathetic.
Once his paintings were selling for millions, thought, it was a whole other story.
14. Well which is it?!
If you’re rich, it’s called perseverance.
It’s your spirit of never give up, the vibranium-like mental toughness, the ability to withstand every challenge come in your way, the 20 hours/day you put into your work, the willingness to learn, to grind, to take risks – brought you to where you are today.
If you’re poor, it’s called stubbornness.
It’s your unwillingness to accept other’s opinions, the not-sure-what-you-are-thinking type of mindset, the big-headed personality, the stupidity to pursue [outrageous] ideas that will never work out – brought you to where you are today.
Imagine a poor person living in an RV. Whats the image that you get? A poor person who simply cant afford to rent a house, much less purchase a house. Forced to live upon a cramped and claustrophobic place that doesnt even have running water.
Now imagine a rich person living in an RV.
They live in an RV because they are adventurous and cannot be confined to the limits of their house. They desire to live one with the wilderness and they are so rich they dont have to work anymore; freed from the constraints of workplaces. They are so rich they have the freedom to travel anywhere in the world they want to.
Is that what was painted into your mind? Dont worry its not just you.
What hurts even more about the prejudice we have on people of different classes owning RVs, is that on the outside the RVs look the same. You might walk by an RV park, but inside the poor, run-down RVs are what the second picture shows, the luxury RV.
Its terrible how we shame upon poor people who live in RVs, but at the same time, we contradict ourselves and admire rich people who live in RVs.
16. Talking on the phone all the time
If youre rich, talking on the phone all the time can make you look good. If its for business/work, you must be so important and you are such a wheeler-dealer. If its personal, you have got such a bustling social life.
If youre poor, talking on the phone all the time is viewed as just yakking. After all, what important things could a poor person ever have to be talking to someone about?
17. Having the language skills of a fourth grader if you are an adult
When rich people speak incoherently, use malapropisms, or cant express themselves with a vocabulary that would show they actually managed to graduate from high school, its seen as speaking like the common man, and being a person one could have a beer with. Its not a negative thing to walk around with poor speaking skills or a limited vocabulary if you are rich. Nobody will question your intelligence, and youll get props for being down to earth and remembering where you came from.
But let a poor person speak this way [and the average burger joint] wouldnt hire you if you spoke like that in an interview and people would surely judge you as not being so smart. No Ebonics for you, but Bush can walk around with classics like Is our children learning as well as other nonsensical quotes, and The Donald can sit around and talk about things being Yuge and they get respect from people who would look down their noses at a poor person who sounded like that.
Same rich guy who uses a lot of curse words in English or makes vulgar jokes in English even in front of women, that is considered classy just because the guys knows how to talk in English which reflects his elitist educational background.
Another guy who curses in Urdu or make vulgar jokes is considered trashy and disrespectful because that sounds like someone from a ghetto having poor to no educational background.
19. Having few possessions
If you are rich it is minimalist, if poor it is deprivation. Things like a capsule wardrobe and wearing one particular outfit the whole time (Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs) and sparse decorations are dressed up ways of not buying in to consumerism, which is not a revolutionary idea, considering poverty means you don’t have the option of buying tons of clothes or home improvement etc.
20. The Digital Nomad
If you dont have a permanent address because you can work from anywhere in the world and you spend your time traveling the country from one Airbnb property to the next, or to classy hotels and resorts, thats the interesting and unique lifestyle of a digital nomad.
If you dont have a permanent address because you quit your high paying corporate job and bought a houseboat with your spouse, or youre backpacking across Europe, thats classy. Youve retired early and you are opening yourself to new experiences.
If youre living out of your car, using a $20 a month gym membership for a place to shower and go to the bathroom, and working from a cheap co-working facility because youre bootstrapping your fledgling startup then youre a hustler and a go-getter who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
However, if youre living in a homeless shelter or on the street because you have a mental illness that you cant afford to treat or dont have anyone who can help care for you, because you have an addiction, or because you made some bad decisions, then homelessness is trashy.
21. Collecting antiques
Antiques are something which rich people are often found buying and hoarding. It may be classy for them but for the poor it basically useless trash and a waste of money.
22. Working too much/being busy
If youre rich, working too much is the image of success and an example of how hard work pays off. Not only will you receive high recognition for it from others, others will fall all over themselves to accommodate you. This is why youll hear high-end service providers such as wealth management companies saying such things as we understand your busy schedule and can work with it.
But if youre poor, you may be equally as busy/overworked, just under different conditions such as working multiple lower-wage jobs. Mathematically, working two 30-hour per week jobs is working just as hard as working 60 hours per week at one job. In fact, youll probably be working harder while getting to and from both jobs, and managing the possible overlaps/conflicts between them. The difference is, when youre poor, no one cares how busy you are. Not only does no one care, it looks bad. This is where such labels as workaholic come from, followed by accusations/remarks such as but if you work so much, how can you ever be there for your family?, and maybe if you went to college and got a better job, you wouldnt have to work so much.
Envision a wealthy man, married or not, who has a mistress with whom hes either sexually or emotionally invested in, or both. Hes classy, romantic, and suave. Hes good with the ladies – why should he have to settle for one? It may still be a morally wrong act, but its accepted, if not expected, as a natural progression of wealth. The two adulterers do what they do out of passion, rather than malice or simple sexual satisfaction.
Now envision a working-class man who is cheating on his significant other with a woman of a similar financial situation. We consider him to be immoral, disgusting, and repugnant. Hes a player, and the women he attracts are certainly less-than pleasant, and theyre certainly nothing more to him than a warm, wet hole. In a fun twist, we look at the woman as more of a goal-oriented & selfish individual, where in the wealthy case, its more likely to apply to her.
We even have different words for the same action. For higher-class-citizens, theyre adulterers who commit infidelity, or acts of passion, with a mistress. For the lower-class, theyre playing cheaters who has a side [person].
24. In Indonesia, its the bicycle
When you are rich, its classy to ride your bicycle around Jakarta. They have bicycle clubs, expensive gear, and bike-related gadgets. Riding a bicycle is considered an environmentally-friendly means of transportation and a part of a healthy lifestyle. A good bicycle can cost tens of thousands of US dollars.
However, when you are poor, its trashy to ride a bicycle because it simply means you can not afford a motorcycle, let alone a car.