Monday, July 9, 2012

"Champagne Taste, Beer Budget" by Delia Cleveland

For this reading response, focus on the "why's" of this piece. Why would someone go to such lengths--spending not only her regular paycheck, but even draining her savings account--to buy designer label clothes and accessories? If you know anyone who has behaved this way (including yourself), why do you think they (or you) did it? Alternately, consider your emotional response to this reading and this author. Did you feel this person was silly for wasting so much money on clothes? Why is that "silly" or "stupid," even? In other words, what personal values do you hold that this materialist behavior seems to contradict or offend? If you sympathize with her, what values or beliefs do the two of you seem to have in common?

As ever, you are under no obligation to answer all or any of these questions--they remain merely suggestions to help get you thinking. Whatever you choose, remember to use the reading to approach the bigger ideas, the values, that hide beneath the surface of the text. It's these ideas and values that will produce the foundation for body paragraphs, perhaps even a thesis, in your next essay.

Please post your response of at least 250 words by the time we begin class on Tuesday, July 10th. 

15 comments:

  1. What I found most interesting and thought provoking in this entire article is how the author, after having recovered from her fashion addiction, states “ I no longer took the part, because I was living it.”
    She gave a lot of examples of people who wear certain clothes that suggest that they must participate in certain activities, but many times don't. I completely agree that a person's money should spent on doing exciting things, not on buying clothes that suggest it. In other words walk the walk, don't talk the talk. One thing I could not sympathize was her obsession with clothing. I have never had fashion as my top priority in my life. The most unhealthy obsession I have ever had is hot cheetos and orange juice. I wonder to myself how many people there are that are actually like this woman. In my experience not that many, but then again I have not met a large variety of people. I have sort of been stuck in one corner of south central LA. If there are much more people like this woman then that would certainly explain why these fashion companies are so rich. I wonder if this addiction has also caused people to have to go to alternate schooling. Something else I was wondering was who actually buys more of these rich products; the rich or the poor? Because if it is the latter then it would certainly explain or at least shed some light on why poor people are unable to move up in society.

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  2. This reading isn’t foreign to me at all. There are many teens and adults who are obsessed with their attires. While going through grade school, I would hear my peers bullying other kids because they didn’t dress a certain way. They would call them lame, or say that they didn’t have any swag. I remember the kids who were being bullied would be so heart broken that they weren’t accepted because of their clothes. The sad part was the fact that they had no control of what they were wearing. It was their parents who couldn’t afford expensive name brands. I also was one of those kids who were all in to their clothes. I would never go the extent of secretly taking money from my parents, or talk about kids who couldn’t afford it. I just put a lot of emphasis on what I was going to wear to school and out on the weekends. When my mom would see that I was caring a little too much about my attire, she would always say it’s not your clothes that get you a degree, but what’s covered by the clothes. Its about the person that you are trying to hide behind the clothes. I wasn’t trying to hide behind clothes or name brands, but I just wanted to be known as the girl who always dresses nice and has all the name brands. People also put a lot of emphasis on their appearance because that’s commonly how people judge you. If you have name brands, you have money. If you wear skater shoes and carry a skateboard, you’re a skater. If you wear baggy clothes and dreads, you’re a rapper. I think people put so much into what they are wearing because its what is perceived.

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  3. I found this story very true from previous experiences. I believe that materialism is very prominent in our generation because high school is something like a popularity contest. But, that is only on certain terms. The idea of materialism could be different between a public and a private school. At a private school, they have uniforms so that they can eliminate the issue of stating whether someone is popular or not. It also eliminates the issue of who has more money or not because no one is wearing designer clothes. However, in a private school materialism is seen through the students possessions. What kind of accessories someone might carry: a purse, backpack, earring, bracelets watches and etc. Also the car that they drive can be a way that students in private schools compete in the popularity contest. It shows your economic class of their families or how cool a kid is. In a public high school, students might feel the need to dress a certain way because they want to be viewed as popular. Like Delia Cleveland stated, "at first i just took pride in being the best-dressed female at my high school. Fellows adored my jiggy style, girls were insanely jealous. I became a fiend for the attention", students use their clothing options for attention. They do it to feel special, and to make it so that everyone, or almost everyone, knows them. Public schools are centered around popularity and the very few who are the "nerds" , who don't dress like the popular teens in school, are the ones who care about the education. "In her eyes,I was letting brand names control y life, and i needed help" is a very true statement because teens tend to let the brands they wear control who they want to be or who they are, whether that's at a public or a private school. She makes a good point when she says, "I no longer look the part-because I'm too busy living it because, as a society, we get distracted by the now and don't know how to address the situation. We get so caught up in how everyone else perceives us when we are in a materialistic society we never know when to get out of it. I don't think we can blame our generation from this because we were born into the materialistic society that America has formed. It is going to keep getting worse unless we take it upon ourselves to remove any distractions that may cause the illusion of material things that define us; we need to set goals and become a more career focused generation instead of a brand name focused generation.

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    1. I agree with what Brianna has said, but I want to elaborate a little more on her public versus private situation. It is true that private schools have uniforms, but public school have uniforms as well. The high school I went to is public, and we had to wear uniform for various reasons (to make habits that will benefit in the workforce, for our safety due to our neighborhood, etc). The fact that uniforms are enforced in schools is irrelevant to people wanting to look nice or be popular. High School students are only in school for about eight hours. For instance, people go to parties, a chance to flaunt what you carry in your closet. I am not completely sure about private schools, but in public schools students still attempt to be different by the way they wear their uniform, which gives students an idea of those who are trying to look "cool."

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  4. While reading this short story I felt that it was a slight exaggeration of the effects of buying name brands and how not everyone in our country is like this with their money. However, when I took a step back and began to reflect, I realized that at some point almost everyone, though not as obvious, spends there money at one point in tie on nuisance items. Just like Dee, we do this because by buying a certain item, especially if it’s a name brand, we feel that we will not only be more accepted but looked up with a greater respect. I can reflect on a time when I fell for the trap of buying an unnecessary item because I thought if I wore it people would look at me differently. From an early age my mother has taught me to be a thrifty shopper, always having me look for bargains and clearance items at department stores. She never failed to remind me that clothes were just items, and that a twenty dollar sweater accomplished the same job that another sweater with a name brand stamp and a higher price tag accomplished: it still kept me warm. However one day I felt like just splurging a little on myself so I went into Torrid, my favorite store, and bought a summer dress with the price tag of a hundred dollars- my mother was not with me, if not I would have never been able to buy it. At the time, I was conscious of the price of it, but the summer dress was what we called “in style” and my other friends who were shopping with me really seemed to like it. But the same feeling that Dee felt when she realized it was not worth it, immediately came crashing down on me as soon as I got in the car. My first thoughts were that I could’ve gotten something more inexpensive and used the money to buy another dress or outfit, and that I really had nowhere to wear this dress to: I had just bought an expensive dress for no reason. This was two years ago, and to this day the same summer dress still hangs on a hanger in my closet untouched and never worn. I agree with Dee, that the consequence of trying to look pretty and fit in for the moment is not worth the price of losing your stable lifestyle or your whole savings account. Like my mother, I believe that there is nothing wrong spending your money on nice clothes when you can afford it. But there comes to be a problem when you are willing to give up paying more pending costs such as food and mortgage in order to look like the top one percent. On that note, this article reminds me of the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic and how the main character’s life revolved around maxing out her credit cards in buying Prada clothes she really could not afford

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  5. As I was reading “Chamagne Taste, Beer Budget” by Delia Cleaveland, I remembered our first readings “Venus Envy” and “My New Nose” . This reading touches on the subject of image , just as “Venus Envy” and “My New Nose” did. In this story we get to see how Dee pays excessive attention to her image. Dee goes out of her way to purchase designer clothes simply because she “was looking fly, and that was all that mattered”(279). This shows people are willing to do anything in order for them to fit in with a certain group of people or in this case in order for the girls to be “insanely jealous”(279). Dee also mentions that she wore a “designer emblem like a badge of honor or respect”. This leads me to believe Dee thought this was the only way people would actually respect her; through the clothes she wore. It makes sense she believed that because in the society we live in we judge based on appearance and not what’s in the heart. It is easy to fall into trap Dee fell into. We all portray a certain image through the clothes we wear. But just as this story’s title some have a “chamagne taste with a beer budget”. This is when the problems kick in because if you buy something you can not afford you will end up in debt just because you insisted on portraying an image that was not true to your identity. As we discussed in class previous to beginning our first assignment, socio-economic class is part of what makes up our identity. In this story, we see that Dee’s image is not a true reflection of her identity. She is giving off an incorrect image of herself.

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  6. In “Champagne Taste, Beer Budget”, Delia Cleveland introduces the story of to what extent her obsession of wearing the latest outfits affected her. I feel that the reason why so many people go to extremities to purchase certain brands is because many worry about what others might think of them. Image is crucial when dealing with the cloth we wear. We constantly use our outfits to fit into certain groups or to be the certain of attention. Sometimes people go into debt just because they want to presume an expensive outfit they cannot afford. We want to think that we are of high socioeconomic- always worrying about what others think of us. I remember my cousin would constantly waste his paste check on brand cloth such as AX, Burberry, etc. As a result of wasting his money on cloth that makes him look “better” to society, he is still living with his parents. Constantly he has to ask father for loans, or sometimes he leave his bills unpaid waiting for his dad to take the tab. I feel the reason my cousin wastes money on brand cloth is because he wants to make the impression to his friends that he is rich, that having a tag plaster over his shirt makes him a more sophisticated person. I feel that by worrying about brands we are wasting our lives, such as Cleveland states in the end of her essay that she is “no longer [looking] the part- because [she is] too busy living it.’’ The truth is that because my cousin worries about his own appearance, his father has to work extra hours. He is not only affecting himself, but he is as well depriving his father from enjoying life a little more. I’m not saying stop buying brand cloth, but to moderate the expense. There is nothing wrong with once in a while looking “fly”, but it should not cost our own pleasure of living a less stressful life. I mean society has constantly emphasized the importance of looking adequate, and honestly is hard to not care how we look. We just have to remember that there is a limit to which we care about our superficiality. We never want to put our own safety and health in danger for a pricey object.

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  7. I feel like I can really relate to Delia Cleaveland when she talked about wearing expensive clothes affecting her life. When I was dating my ex-boyfriend I always felt the need to dress nicely in front of him and his family because they were wealthy. I knew that they judged what I wore and I always felt that I had to fit a certain mold. On Christmas I received a little over 100 dollars and ended up spending it all on just one top. After I bought it I felt that I had fallen in that trap that Delia fell in. I came home, looked at the expensive sweater and cried. I couldn’t make sense of how I could have bought 10 sweaters for the same price. This is when I made my change. Mine was different than Delia’s. Like her “I’ve vowed to leave designer labels to people who can truly afford them.” Like her new outlook, I chose to find comfort in searching for the best deal of clothing. Although I still have an obsession over clothes, I find pride in going to swap meets, sample sales, and
    retail stores. I don’t feel guilty about buying a full priced free people top a month later than everyone else and getting it for half the price. I sympathize with her because I do feel that we sometimes become overwhelmed by money and showing others that we can afford nice things. Although it is a luxury, some people simply can’t afford it and if we can’t its our duty to recognize that.

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  8. After reading “Champagne Taste, Beer Budget” by Delia Cleveland, it reminded me of a girl from my high school who behaved exactly like Dee. She was a fashion addict and would spend her paychecks on brand clothes. Through out the four years of high school, she was known as the best dressed and was envied by many girls. My perception of her was normal. I did not look up to her or envy her at all. When it came time to apply to colleges, I was able to learn about her past experiences and current financial difficulties. Due to living in a materialistic country, she took pride in being the best-dressed female at school, but helping out her mother with the bills or saving up for college would have been a smarter option in my opinion. When I had a job sophomore year during the summer, I spent a normal amount on clothes. I did, however, have the temptation to spend my two paychecks that added up to $1,000 on clothes because I wanted a whole new wardrobe but I knew it wasn’t necessary.

    Also, there was a guy in my high school who was obsessed with video games. He was very addicted to them and found it a necessity to buy all the new video games that came out. He would always have game nights with his friends and paid very little attention to his school work. Most of us Americans have been obsessed with a particular thing at some point of our lives and I do not blame anybody. Every American desires to own something valuable in society but now with more frequent catching advertisements, people are going overboard and spending too much money on things that we don’t really need or use only once or twice.

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  9. Delia Cleveland, is one of many, who has spent her paychecks on designer clothes. She was a compulsive girl who wanted to feel special and have all the attention. The reason why people would do this is because they feel the need of being recognized and feel special. It feels good to have many eyes on you, especially when trying to catch the eyes of men, whether he be unattractive or attractive-woman want to be seen and praised. I understand why buying the most fashionable and up-to-date clothes because it boosts your self-esteem. You feel dominant and beautiful knowing that there are other girls wishing they had your clothes, desiring your life, and feeling jealous of how much attention and beauty the clothes has brought you. I understand why she would want to wear clothes that is in style, but there are different approaches to gaining the same attention without having to sacrifice your money and education. Spending her saved money was a mistake because it was money that is used for her success in life, not for a piece of cloth that will go out of style in a few months. She is wasting her hard earned money on things that she most likely will use once and never wear again because it will no longer be the style of the season. I feel that she was being silly for spending her money on herself, especially on expensive clothes. There were many things she could have done with the money she spent on the clothes and luckily found help, even though she sacrificed many things and regretted her spending spree.

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  10. After reading the text, I tried to fathom why she chose to pursue expensive attire. It was evident that she wanted to be popular in her high school and appear to be of a higher social class. I believe that most teenagers attempt to do this, because high school courses are not as rigorous as college courses, so their focus is not entirely on education, and in most cases, the education is free. Middle and High school students’ attention is placed more on friends, social events, and extracurricular activities. We’re all guilty of playing around in class, sleeping, texting, being on Facebook, and everything else we weren’t supposed to be doing in class. We all do things we think are cool. As a personal experience, I did worry about how I looked when I went to school, but I never went on a rampage to buy expensive clothing. My mother didn’t have that kind of money, and I wasn’t raised to pursue that lifestyle. I did, however, kind of take advantage of my mother’s money when she received her taxes each year, because that was the only time I could afford relatively expensive shoes and clothing. Other than that, my clothes came from my dad’s work at a clothing factory where he stole the clothes, “Fallas Paredes” (a discount store with replicates of name brand clothing), the street alleys in Downtown Los Angeles, or other small neighborhood stores, but never the mall. I’m not saying I dressed like a bum, but my clothes were not extremely expensive. I did take pride in the clothes I wore, and still today, I get my clothes from the same places but from different stores as well such as Target or JC Penny’s. My sister exemplifies the type of person who can look extremely nice and as if her clothes are expensive, when her clothes are really from the swapmeet or street alleys in downtown. She demonstrates that money shouldn’t be a factor in having a nice appearance, although she still had the idea of wanting to impress people and herself. It’s easy to fall under the mind frame Dee had in high school, because as teenagers we don’t have much responsibility. On the other hand, entering college, students focus more on education, since they are more mature, they know the cost of being at that college (both financially and academically), and everyone is pretty much living their own lives in pursuance of that degree not striving to look like $1, 000, in most cases. Dee’s situation could be explained psychologically, if we knew about her childhood. Maybe as a little girl she wasn’t given possessions she wanted, so when she grew up and had a job, she must’ve felt it was her time to get what she wanted, as if she deserved it. I mean, she was a diligent scholar, right?

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    1. one last thought: Another reason why Dee was obssessed with expensive clothing might be because it reflects how successful she is. Most people define success as having a well paying job, a nice house, a family, pretty much a nice lifestyle. How else can a person show off to the world how successful he or she is when they are not at home? Dee was only in high school, but she had impressive grades and a job, so maybe she bought expensive clothes to show to people how successful she was.

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  11. In the passage “Champagne Taste, Beer Budget”, Delia Cleveland brought up a very severe case of excessive materialism in American society today. While many cases may not be this extreme, she brings up a very good point about the negative effects of materialism. This story ties in with our first essay prompt, which addressed if image was essential to one’s identity. In Delia’s case she had an image that she thought she had to maintain in order to fit in and be considered “cool” in school. She gained confidence from the clothes and material possessions that she owned, but this was not who she truly was as a person, this was not her true identity. Before her addiction to clothes began, she was a straight A student with a very bright future ahead of her. It took a change of environment in order for her to change her ways and figure out that her identity inside was not properly being portrayed through her outside image to the world.
    Image in society today is very different than in the past, and more emphasis is being put on the image of a person, especially if they are of female gender. Even though this is true, I personally cannot fully comprehend why a person would jeopardize their life and future because of an obsession with material possessions. I know that females are under a lot of pressure from the world today and people expect a lot from them, but from a mans point of view I cannot relate to this excessive materialism. Clothes are just a necessity in life and do not mean anything more. The person makes the clothes what they are, the clothes do not make the person, and this is the lesson that Delia Cleveland took many years to learn.

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  12. Dee the author of “Champagne Taste, Beer Budget” is a victim of wanting attention, not a victim of materialism. In the passage she says: “I became a fiend for attention” and later states that shows name brands on her “chest like a badge of honor and respect” (279). Dee used material objects in order to get the attention and to be seen as the “fly” chick on the block. Personally I’ve never spent so much money on a piece of clothing, but I can say I have had the fortune of wearing a $120 dollar dress shirt. I do not think her need to buy so many clothes was bad; as much as I believe she became consumed with the idea of having constant attention and using her image in order to get it. When she stopped paying so much attention to herself she noticed her surroundings and noticed how her peers bought “$150 hiking boots [and yet] they’d never been hiking” (280). She had her own epiphany about herself and started caring less about “material stuff that wasn’t benefiting” her at all (280). I agree that not all material objects benefit us, but some are beneficial to our daily lives such as a college student’s need for a laptop, a car in the city of Los Angeles or even a phone to communicate with one another. Materialism in itself has a negative connotation, but some material objects are necessary to our daily lives such as a stove, money, and clothes. The notion of materialism becomes convoluted when we forget what we need as opposed to what we want; that’s when we become consumed by an idea like Mr.James Gatz (The Great Gatsby) or Dee and revolve our life around a “classy façade” (279).

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  13. What is it that you love? Do you only wear Nike, or any other sports brands? Do you only rock Hollister, or other designer products? Or do you smoke cigarettes and average a pack a day? What is your “money draining habit”? Not saying everyone has one, because everyone doesn’t have money, but everyone has an “effort spender”. We all do something to help us blend our selves in or make ourselves identical to a certain type of people. Even the punk rockers or off brand people who turn their back to society and try to make themselves different and separate from everyone else, they also are trying to fit in to their perception of themselves or people like them. Everyone has a group they want to fit in, and habits that they pay for. You could like video games, or hockey. It honestly does not matter. I say this because the materialistic things WE ALL are into is not a bad thing. Yes if you overdue it like the author in the story did, but having something you are passionate about is an amazing gift. She liked fashion and dressing nice, but she was in too deep. I myself like buying clothes that are nice and comfortable with me, but I do know that I have financial limits. It is pointless for someone to say “materialism” is a curse instead of a passion. They are closed minded to the fact that sometimes they exemplify irresponsibility and selfishness. But not all the time.

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