January 21, 2008

A new word

From the New York Times yesterday, a word new to me:

Masstige: the phenomenon of “trading up,” buying luxury that you cannot really afford to give yourself the illusion of wealth and the prestige that comes with it

The middle class has been persuaded to want things that we do not need, like $400 handbags and raincoats with designer labels. It is all about image, I suppose. We want the world to take us seriously, and the way we convince ourselves that this will happen is by looking rich. When I hear the celebrity news, “rich” does not seem synonymous with “serious.” And yet, I know this tendency in myself. I can tell myself that one product, with a certain name, is of better quality than another. Sometimes that is true, but sometimes it is just an excuse to buy something that impresses. But whom am I trying to impress? Maybe just myself. Maybe all of those taken in by “masstige” are only fooling themselves. As my grandmother often said, “Pretty is as pretty does.” And quality, true quality, is an interior quality, not something attained by slapping a certain designer label on my back.
But I really do like expensive shoes……

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