There was a time when a family’s having meager means was an embarrassment, something to hide. Nowadays, it seems that just about everybody was “born by the river in a little tent.”
With pride, the nouveau poor assert that their family was really poor, but they didn’t know it. What the just-discovered-that-they-were-poor need to know is that real poor people know that they are poor. Indeed, having always lived in a house and had enough food to eat qualifies one as rich in the eyes of real poor people.
When I hear the nouveau poor tell sad stories, then, about what they describe as a hard life, I sometimes wonder if these stories are just a way for people to boast and pat themselves on the back for overcoming. And because of this overcoming, they seek praise, respect, admiration, and perhaps your vote.
When these rags-to-riches bootstrapping stories seem inauthentic to me, I think how real poor people don’t have anything–not even their stories.
Well said: period
Deft phrase, “nouveau poor” and excellent piece.