Women of Color and Wealth – An Aside on Consumption and Pressure to Shop [Part 5.5]

by Latoya Peterson

Please note, this is an aside (part five and a half) of a multi-part series on the Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color and Wealth report released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Please carefully read part one and review our comment moderation policy before participating in the comments.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the hip-hop space as I’ve been working on some new articles and projects, and happened across Necole Bitchie (via The Fashion Bomb) discussing a fairly ignorant interaction that brought to mind some of the issues we were discussing with barriers to wealth building for women of color.  I have no idea who this Maino person is, but apparently he is a rapper with very particular ideas about the purpose and proper presentation of women – and took offense to video model Rosa Acosta wearing “cheap shoes.”

In the Maino interview he says:

    “I looked at her “boom” she’s cute but she had cheap shoes. Someone asked me would I ever try to talk to her and I said, “No disrespect but [that ain’t] my type. Look at your shoes. Look at your bag. I don’t even f*ck women like you.” Imagine I pull up somewhere and you got Jay-z, you got Diddy and n*ggas about their business. I pull up in my bentley and jump out, and this b*tch got on her cheap azz shoes. I don’t want you, if I can’t sport you.”
Acosta returned fire in a different interview, making a major point about prioritizing how one spends money:
“First of all he said I’m cheap. That I wear cheap shoes. There is a difference between simple and cheap. I will not wear something that is fake so I will wear whatever I can afford. If I can just afford Forever 21 shoes, then that’s what I am going to buy […] I am still the same girl that came from the Dominican Republic. My family has never been rich. I’m still not rich. Why would I go and buy a $2000 pair of shoes that I can’t afford when I can actually help my family that’s still living in DR, or I can save my money or I could spend money on my education. What is wrong with buying something that’s inexpensive.”
And Ms. Bitchie herself opines:

Maino’s comment and mentality is the reason why chicks are skipping out on rent and damn near having to move back home or shacking up with 4-5 roommates, just to floss. If you have a closet full of expensive shoes and handbags but still have trouble keeping your lights on or you are hiding your car from the repo man every other month. That’s a problem. If you are a guy and you are riding around in a Bentley and still living in your mama’s basement, That’s a problem.

Only buy what you can afford and if a wack azz dude don’t like it, make him buy you those $1200 dollar shoes.

The rest of the posts I am planning on the WOC and wealth report don’t really discuss consumption, but let’s go ahead and use this thread to discuss it.

Considering so many women are willing to “invest” in fashion over financial products, how does that impact our potential to accumulate wealth?  How does peer pressure factor into our consumption choices?  What about employment, particularly for those of us who work in industries where our physical presentation can influence how we are perceived? (And it isn’t just appearance based industries like fashion or hip-hop – I’ve heard the same things from friends who work in law, real estate, or financial services who have clients who expect a certain projection of success through material goods before they feel comfortable working with you.)

How does perceived social capital in the dating market (i.e. men like Maino and their preferences) influence what women choose to invest in?

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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