Romanticizing Poverty


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Romanticizing Poverty

How pop culture portrays a working poor life as uncomplicated, void of stress, pure, and moral.

Working poor is not a lifestyle choice:

Job promotions and performance reviews[1]


Simple routine and morality

We’re oversimplifying.

Movie Portrayals of Poverty:

1.)Deeply moralistic and contented:
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Slumdog Millionaire,The Son,Good Will Hunting[1]

2.)In need of assistance from a wealthy–often white–character from higher socioeconomic status:
The Help,The Soloist,The Dark Knight Rises

In pop-culture and fashion:

Bohemian: pushes aside capitalist framework and stability for what they are passionate about.[1]
Bourgeois-Bohemian: mimic the daily “simplicity of working poor, without giving up financial stability.

Dick Haynes, President and Founder, Urban Outfitters:[1]
Urban Outfitters is for the “upscale homeless.”
Nothing says homeless like the $144 “Bitching & Junkfood Algardi Velvet Swing Dress”[2]

The “live below the line” campaign challenged participants to live below Canada’s poverty line ($1.75 a day)[1]
With the knowledge they can return to overblown savings accounts.

We think of working poor as a destination. It’s exotic. But that stage wears off.

1.)Poverty shrinks your brain from chronic stress:
Long term stress shrinks the prefrontal cortex[8], insular cortex, and subgenual anterior cingulate[9] regions.[7]

All of which affect reasoning, decision making, emotions, and self-control.

So… you’re deeper in the hole.

2.)It has the highest correlations to substance abuse, broken homes, violence, and health problems

For every 1 child abused in a house making >$30,000:[5]
22 are abused in houses making <$15,000 Those with only a high school education 12% likelier to commit violent crimes.[6] For every one child who is stunted, or in the hospital, twice as many impoverished children suffer from the same conditions.[10] 3.) Those living in poverty die earlier. 4.) And for many it never ends (it's cyclical): 71% of children whose parents were born in the lower half of income distribution are upwardly mobile, but by much.[4] Only 38% of people born into the lower half of income distribution make it to the upper half.[4] Romanticizing poverty makes people think it doesn’t need to change. Don’t romanticize poverty.


  10. (Table 1)