Isn’t it time we got over it?

Two posts going up today, I hope – that’s what happens when you leave it too long between posts – too many ideas mulling over at the back of my mind!

I followed a link last week & read about a family in the States who are managing to live on what looks like to us a very low income. More power to their elbows; none of it seemed exactly revolutionary to me, as somehow we’ve managed to raise 5 kids and pay off our mortgage on one fairly ordinary salary & the little part-time jobs I’ve managed to hold down between ferrying assorted offspring around. But what did stop me in my tracks were some of the comments underneath… you would think this unfortunate couple were condemning their kids to a living hell by buying them “thrift store” (i.e. charity shop) clothes, giving them home-made  food, and, crime of all crimes, making some of their clothes!

Several comments were along the lines that, by making them “different” from other kids, they were bound to be making them targets for bullying. Well, excuse me, but the basic fact is that everyone IS different! And it isn’t being different, in itself, that lays people open to bullying – which isn’t confined to kids, by the way – it’s feeling bad about those differences. Feeling somehow ashamed of them, which you might well if people make negative comments about them, and thus not reacting with vigour when the bullies start to pull you down… and anyone who stands by and mutters words to the effect that they brought it on themselves, or that they blame the parents, is legitimising bullying and making it far, far worse for the victim. Is a bully themself, in fact, by allowing it to happen & by making excuses for vile behaviour. Are we no better than the chickens in my chicken run, that we seek to bring down anyone who stands out in any way, in case they attract unwanted attention to our flock? Or should we finally realise that there is indeed strength in diversity, and make the bullies stop, rather than giving them tacit approval?

We are rapidly entering a time when it simply will not be possible for everyone to wear “new” clothes all of the time, as fuel becomes too expensive for t-shirts made by child slaves on the other side of the world to be sold for pennies any more, and thrown away after a couple of uses because they won’t wash well. Where home-made food may once again become “the norm” rather than an oddity, if only because people don’t want to find they’ve been eating something other than what it says on the packet. Where accruing debt just because everyone else is doing it, just to have what everyone else has got, may come to seem rather stupid. It’s more than possible that the family featured in that article are actually ahead of the curve, rather than the eccentric oddballs some of the commentators seem to think they are. Those kids may grow up with attitudes and a skill-set that will allow them to break free of the wage-slave-debt trap.

By the way, I am asserting that everyone is different as the wife of an identical twin. Yes, they look very alike, enough alike that our neighbours regularly talk to my brother-in-law without realising he’s not my husband. And no, they are not at all the same…! And I am making a point about home-made clothes because it is entirely possible to make clothing (and other things) that is good enough for other people to want so much that they’ll actually buy it, with nothing more than an old sewing machine, some cast-off old clothing or curtains or similar, the odd old book or magazine (Golden Hands, for example!) and a head full of ideas. If my pillowcase pinnies, scrap-yarn shawls and denim aprons haven’t convinced you, have a look at Raggedy’s site.

And please, help those who haven’t realised this yet get over the idea that everyone has to look the same, buy the same things, think the same things, and that anyone (and their kids) who doesn’t live according to their narrow worldview is fair game for negative comments and worse…

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10 Responses to “Isn’t it time we got over it?”

  1. Colleen P. Says:

    Well said, and it definitely needs saying, often and loudly, until people get the point! I use 40 year old saucepans because they still work. I drive a 14 year old truck because it still works and gets me where I need to go. Sure, I’d love new saucepans and a new hybrid vehicle that gets 400 miles to the gallon, but I haven’t the money for such indulgences, and indulgence is exactly what it would be to replace things that don’t need replacing. I make loads of my own clothes, because I can. I have made clothes for my kids out of old clothes, because it’s wasteful to throw away a lot of perfectly good fabric because a part of it is worn. There is not and should not be shame in using something entirely up, in recycling, in upcycling, in passing down garments for younger kids to wear, or in repairing something to get more wear out of it. I think there should be something shameful in bullying others because they do not have what another has. If the bully thinks they ought to have it, what is the bully doing to make that happen? It’s disturbing but it’s gone on a very long time here in the US, Not in all areas, of course, but in some. Frankly I think there’s something wrong with raising people to believe that taking care of your things and getting use out of them is shameful. Or, rather, the shame belongs on the other foot!

    • thriftwizard Says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Colleen! One day the world will come round to our point of view; what goes around, comes around & that works for ideas as well as it does for fashion.

      • Colleen P. Says:

        It really bothers me that this is so prevalent here in the US. Granted, there isn’t as much of it as there once was, and there is a sort of “underground” thrift movement, but a staggering number of people are still all about the brand name and the mall shopping and the dressing to trend rather than to what suits their body and finances. People cannot cook or plan a meal, or shop grocery store ads and make a menu from that. Parents send their kids off to college without basic knowledge like how to do laundry or make simple meals or repair their clothes or change the oil in their vehicle, or clean house. In this economy that is irretrievably wasteful.

  2. Colleen P. Says:

    Those little dresses are just adorable, by the way!

  3. cloudsfullofrain Says:

    Definitely well said! Would you mind sharing the link to the story you referenced? I often think about how quickly things are changing. On a recent car ride with the family, I took a hand sewing project. Generally, I fall asleep before we make it out of the driveway, but have been thinking about making the best use of the time I’ve been given. Certainly, a sewing project would keep me awake. I decided to make a dress for my daughter using two t-shirts. I was pretty amazed at how quickly and easily it came together. I also thought about how I may have to, by hand, make more than just a cute little dress one day if certain resources cease to exist as we know. Thanks so much for sharing. Those dresses are very adorable!

  4. Gail Arthur Says:

    Most definitely an American attitude, where consumerism is the only way to go. I know many people who don’t cook at all and eat all of their meals out. And getting the latest electronics is very important! On the bright side I also know a few people who do cook a lot and manage to keep their spending down. It’s just the American way here. Thanks for the great article!

    • thriftwizard Says:

      The scary thing is, Gail, that most of the commentators are Brits, unless the Mail has a big readership Over There? So we’re going down the same old highway behind you…

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