Poverty Appropriation and the Faux Poor

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Updated with quotes and reposted. Please read the full article (linked below) and share widely. This topic needs to be acknowledged and discussed.

This background, this essential part of who I am, makes it particularly difficult to stomach the latest trend in “simple” living — people moving into tiny homes and trailers. How many folks, I wonder, who have engaged in the Tiny House Movement have ever actually lived in a tiny, mobile place? Because what those who can afford homes call “living light,” poor folks call “gratitude for what we’ve got.”

And it’s not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle — and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.

This idea of “returning” to a “simple life” is one I struggle with. After all, there aren’t any glossy photos of the Palo Verde Mobile Home Park where I grew up, enticing people to live more simply and own less furniture as a means to becoming happier…Such appropriation isn’t limited to the Tiny House trend, or even to the idea of simplicity. In major cities, people who come from high-income backgrounds flock to bars and restaurants that both appropriate, and mock, low-income communities.

The drop-offs were happening at a white anarchist collective filled with people who were choosing not to participate in the system of capitalism.

And I couldn’t help but think: that must be nice. To have that choice.

The Troubling Trendiness Of Poverty Appropriation, The Establishment, July Westhale, November 23 2015.

4 thoughts on “Poverty Appropriation and the Faux Poor

      • It’s possible they’ve already encountered their fair share. I once met a man who owned a house and maintained a middle to upper class income. He’d regularly stay at the shelter…as a CLIENT…to check out the real homeless people, get information (anything useful) and brag about how much better his survival skills were. He was particularly fond of talking about digging a hole in a snowbank and living out of it like an igloo. The shelter staff were fully aware and supportive because he (apparently) provided an example of what homeless people were supposed to be doing. It was disturbing on many levels. It’s also only of many examples i could provide. Based on personal experience, this is an extremely common activity and it usually is connected to some form of abuse targeting poverty survivors (homeless included) .

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