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Hateraid: People of WalMart Edition

One swift glance at the People of WalMart blog and I've got all the fodder I need to write this post. It's almost too easy to critique it. This site is an example of what happens when people fail to have class consciousness, folks. It's the kind of thing that happens when people either ignore or do not see the ways things like gender and race and geography intersect with poverty. It's what happens when someone fails to think through their idea to provide "satirical social commentary of the extraordinary sights found at America's favorite store" by posting pictures of "the most ridiculous and insanely disturbing people who call Walmart their home." Satirical social commentary the People of WalMart blog may be, but in this writer's opinion that commentary is more in explaining why three guys (and over 54,000 Facebook followers) think it's amusing to make fun of the working poor in the U.S.

So, let's consider their About Us page first. According to these dudes, the people deserving of our scorn "obviously don't have mirrors and/or family and friends to lock them in a basement." And who do they give as an example of someone who should be removed from public view? A "400lb mother of 6 wearing a pink tube top, leopard tights, and hooker heels." Uh-huh. So if you're a mother and/or fat and attempt to conform to MTV standards of fashion then you're officially worthy of ridicule. Pray tell, who else can we point a finger at and snicker? A man with "the greatest mullet of all time paired with a mustard stained wife beater (which only accents the extreme amount of body hair) and camo pants that were actually used in Vietnam." So, a poor war Veteran who is probably more worried about where this month's rent will come from than how he styles his hair and may not have a clean shirt to wear? This is getting better and better. One more try fellas: "the 6'2" bull-dyke with a shaved head, rockin a wonder bra, flannel cutoff shirt, and jean shorts." So, disparaging butch lesbians is funny too because, well, they're butch lesbians! Gotcha. The only group that is explicitly off limits are "people that are seriously and unfortunately handicapped." Well, at least these guys draw the line somewhere.

And now on to the pictures and this purportedly hilarious and biting social commentary. Aside from the numerous fat jokes, it's apparently also cool to insinuate a man is gay because he is wearing pink shorts. And we've never heard a woman in a skintight, short dress called a stripper before. Or a black man in a shiny blue costume called a pimp. You starting to recognize a pattern? Cuz I think this site is screaming something like "homophobic, sexist, racist, and uncreative to boot!" All this and the site has only been live for a week. Aren't you excited about what stereotypically cliché remarks will come next?

Listen, websites like these are nothing more than a demonstration of the anxieties people feel about their own social position. The site owners and participants dehumanize ("submit your Wal-Creature") those they seek to distance themselves from, and convey contempt for expressions of poverty in an attempt to reinforce their own "superior" position in the social hierarchy. While that may come across as fun and funny to the ones who are doing it, really, it's just a sad show of their own ignorance and prejudice. And that is worse than any sight one may find in WalMart.

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Comments

55 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Wonderfully stated post on

Wonderfully stated post on an unfunny, pathetic attempt at both satire and social commentary. Thank you.

In the CNN article about the site, one of the owners said (in response to the charge that they were singling out the poor): "If you make a bad decision on what you're going to be out in public wearing, that's what we're looking for"
Fabulous defense, no? Just what we all needed -- another couple of clueless assholes who've decided that they have some authority to define what counts as a "bad decision" in clothing and to judge/humiliate/demean based on appearance

I just saw this yesterday on

I just saw this yesterday on a feminist's twitter feed and was also horrified. It just seemed so blatantly classist. I'm not down with all the outfits either, but I try not to make fun of people, even before I get to the classism part. Maybe I'll start a blog about all the khaki short wearing dudes out there.

Walmart shoppers deserve much much worse.....

I say anyone that is selfish enough to shop at Walmart and keep them churning million dollar profits at the expense of so so much deserves much worse than this.

They are just a terrible company all round and a great example of what is wrong with the USA today.

http://walmartwatch.org/get-the-facts/

I don't care how poor you are - if you can shop - you don't NEED to shop at Walmart. You can make better choices and be more responsible. If you can afford a pack of cigarettes a day and a couple of 40's then you can afford to pay 10 cents more for potatoes. I jest of course, I know this isn't everyone but still if Walmart didn't exisit, do you think people would die? Obviously not! However people ARE dying everyday because Walmart does exist and these selfish people that shop there are just as much to blame. I want to see them on death-row but until then bring on the humiliation!

Wow

I wish I could afford to be as picky as you are! I boycotted Walmart for several years, but have had to stop. I do not currently have a job. Nor do I smoke, or drink, and I haven't bought new clothes in almost a year (I take that back, I spent 20 dollars on a used dress, in January). So I sometimes shop at Walmart, because it's the only local place where I can afford what I need. I also sometimes shop at Walmart, because it's the only store the bus goes to.

Look at the examples in this post. How do you know what these people can afford (and are able to transport themselves) to shop somewhere else? The things they are being mocked for are in many cases signs of poverty (stained shirt, old pants).

But I guess the poor deserve to be mocked.

my thoughts exactly.

Thanks, Mandy -- I had the exact same thoughts when I saw "The People of Wal-Mart" linked in a friend's facebook feed. It made me feel sick to my stomach.

I'd be curious to hear what you think about similar blogs, like "Look at that F*ing Hipster." LATF may not be as classist as People of Wal-Mart, but many of the captions are extremely homophobic, transphobic, critical of gender non-conformity, etc. They're an interesting contrast...

Thanks again for all of the great writing you're doing at Bitch Blogs -- I consistently enjoy your posts!

You know I remember another

You know I remember another one years ago about sorority girls or yuppie women in Lincoln Park (in Chicago) a while back. Women I knew thought it was so funny. They got to feel cooler than those women. I agree- even without the element of classism there is just an undeniable element of hatred in there, or just fear, to ridicule any loosely defined "group" you don't fit in.

more confused than anything

Hey CJ-

Thank you for your kind words. I'd never seen Look at that F*ing Hipster before, and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it since it's devoid of description. POWM left little to speculate about regarding the point of their blog, but the purpose of this one is purely open to speculation. Is it a hipster who's showing off? Is it someone who's poking fun of hipsters? Or is it a hipster who's showing off? Feels to me more like the latter, mostly because the comments under the picture are more descriptive than derogatory remarks (I only looked very briefly though!), but it's not really clear to me what the point is... well, other than getting a book deal with St. Martin’s Press and selling LATFH merch. (Which shall I buy a thong or a dog shirt?) If it's an inside job, I think the homophobic, transphobic, critical of gender non-conformity remarks that you speak of is most likely simply a reflection of the folks who make up the hipster scene itself. I don't want to make generalizations, but it's not exactly a scene known for it's radical politics. Hmmmm... I feel like I'm letting you down. LOL!

Hey... Leave LATFH out of

Hey... Leave LATFH out of this.

Generalizations

Your "don't want to make generalizations, but " is rather interesting, here.

Certainly, there are people, in "the hipster scene" who are prone to "homophobic, transphobic, critical of gender non-conformity remarks" but, you're likely to find that in most cross-slices of American culture.

That you'll also find in "the hipster scene" union organizers, radical feminist / socialist professors, and volunteers for progressive causes is true too....as it is in many cross-slices of American culture.

"[S]tereotypically cliché remarks" [from the original post] about gender norms (+hetero-normative monogamous relationship structures), shape norms, and style norms, and the bolstering of these ideals (for pretty people) are core and key to mainstream American comedy --- in our sit-coms, bro-mances, romantic comedies, etc.

That you would find the same in any scene's comedic attempts (however unfunny they may be --- and I feel that most mainstream comedy is unfunny) is, sadly, predictable.

indeed

Scenes based in cosmetic differences don't tend to stray too far from "traditional" American culture insofar as their radical political beliefs and activist tendencies are concerned.

privilege guilt turned toxic

"websites like these are nothing more than a demonstration of the anxieties people feel about their own social position"

Totally agree. I think this website is a direct result of that anxiety, in fact. Being a member of a fairly privileged economic/societal class, I have heard a number of comments from people that express this feeling - from "All the black people shop at Wal-Mart" to "I like going to Wal-Mart, it makes me feel better about my weight." I myself find it depressing to go to Wal-Mart, simply because of the number of people there who I perceive as being down on their luck, poor, or just plain sad. But this in itself is an expression of privilege guilt!

I really hope this website is just the result of someone's spectacular ignorance, and that maybe they can realize that what they are doing is harmful and stop. Or maybe that's wishful thinking. Seems like this is an example of the great digestive system of privileged white America producing another pile of turd.

"charity"

Oh and I also like how they have a "Charity" section on their website, as if what they're doing could in any way contribute to some kind of greater good. Why couldn't they have made the "charity of the month" a food bank or something? That would've at least reinforced the irony.

THAT, my friend...

is high-larious! In all seriousness, I thought it might be a throwback to their comment about not making fun of people with disabilities.

I wonder...

...If Wal-Mart is working as hard to get this site down as the one promoting the unionization of Wal-Mart workers. The argument they're using to shut down that site is that their logo is similar to Wal-Mart's, so you'd think they'd have to take this one on as well, for consistency's sake. And if they're not making the same argument about this site, then their true motivations regarding the unionization site are pretty clear. Hmm.

I'm sorry, but I'm poor, and

I'm sorry, but I'm poor, and I live in a more rural area, and I think this is hilarious just because I see people like this at wal-mart whenever I go there as well as around my town. Classist? Yes. But I'm a part of that class and I think it's hilarious.

Well, if someone who's

Well, if someone who's working poor thinks the working poor is hilarious, then forget it! Let us all laugh it up at their expense!

That's not how it works. In fact, this reflects a lot more on you than it does on the other people who view the website. As the OP said, I think a lot of people who think this is funny do so because it makes them feel better about their own class insecurities. For example, while you might be a part of the same class as these people, at least you can manage to look good when you go to Wal-Mart so you're not ACTUALLY as awful and low as these people are.... right?

I only insinuate because I've been guilty of doing this myself.

admission

I think it's a good thing that you've admitted to doing this yourself. I should have written that in the post. That I've done it too. Who hasn't? It's not as though it makes you a bad person, per se. What is important is that one recognize why one does these things, what benefit they receive, and how it might hurt others.

Another angle to this is using humor as a strategy to critique those at the top of the social hierarchy in an attempt to destabilize their positioning. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that, in a general sense, as a political strategy. This doesn't mean this strategy can't be poorly implemented because it can.

oppression cred

Whitney: This isn't a pissing contest about who's got more oppression cred in order to name what is and is not distasteful. If I say I'm poor and queer and live in the Global South does that give me more of a right to the "truth" because my oppression is "worse" than your oppression? That's silly, no?

Pissing contest? Come on.

Wow, all I said is that I'm poor (aka, part of the lower working class) and I think it's funny, and you say I'm trying to turn it into a pissing contest? Really? This isn't about cred. I made a subsequent comment and it never posted, but basically what I said is that you don't know how these people feel about that blog. You don't know if they're offended or not, and to be frank, being offended on someone's behalf is a tad patronizing, if you ask me. Let them speak for themselves.

You can be poor and not think it's funny. I really don't care. It's your opinion and I'm not going to chastise you for it.

I'm also not oppressed in the least bit. Maybe I choose to be a part of the working class, you don't know that.

Argument Rebuttal 101: Stick to the Topic at Hand

Are you really saying that since I haven't spoken to the individual people in the photographs and don't know their personal thoughts that I, therefore, cannot critique the site itself? If that is the case, it seems you're confusing a micro issue with a macro one and sorely mistaken about the content of this post. This post never claimed to be my speaking for the individuals in the picture. This post represents my own thoughts on the act of spewing racist, classist, sexist, homophobic vitriol on the web about people in WalMart. Those are clearly two completely different positions. Valiant attempt at a Straw Man though. And congratulations on being oppression-free. I hear it's nice.

You can critique the site,

You can critique the site, but being angry for someone you don't know is patronizing. The people on the website might think it's hilarious. Have you ever met someone who is so-called "white trash" or a redneck, or a hillbilly? Have you ever stopped to take the time to get to know someone who lives in a rural area and shops at Wal-Mart? I have, and that's where I live, and I shop at Wal-Mart and I'm poor. And by saying how the authors of the website fail to have class consciousness, you kind of are speaking for the people portrayed. You also don't know if the people in said pictures are poor. You don't have to be poor to either shop at Wal-mart or dress or look the way the people in the photos do. You assume they are poor. You are making that assumption based on the pictures. You are making the assumption that it's being racist, classist, etc. It's just pictures with a caption musing on what is going on.

AWESOME WHITNEY!

THANK YOU! Too many people on here just appear to be reinforcing their own existing beliefs about the topic as opposed to looking at it from a pure humor perspective.

If we can't laugh at ourselves then what's the point in going through life being mad at everything? I have some things that I'm made fun of for, but you know what...I laugh at them too because I know it's just part of who I am.

The people that are taking this too seriously probably don't have the kind of friends that poke fun at each other and talk shit every once in a while...and that's just sad.

-James
http://bluetoothdouchebag.com

questions

What exactly is a "a pure humor perspective"?

Laughing at oneself is totally different from laughing at others. If this blog (or your blog since it's similar in style and content) were composed of pictures one had taken of themselves at WalMart with commentary, it would be a very different site. But they're not laughing at themselves--nor are you--they're laughing at others with whom they have no relationship and are not "in on the joke". They're laughing at others who aren't even aware there is a joke since they don't make the joke to these people's faces nor do they get permission from all of the people in the photos they take to snap or post the picture publicly. That is both cowardly and unneccesarily cruel.

More on your below comment...

I agree! I think all of the

I agree! I think all of the others here miss the point. I don't care what your class is, PULL YOUR PANTS UP....COVER UP YOUR BOOBS...QUIT DRESSING LIKE A HOOKER.

Sometimes the comments are hilarious, sometimes the pictures make my jaw hit the floor, but always, I wonder how people go out the door looking like they do. Salvation Army has clothing of all sizes. Shop there before you go to walmart.

Don't go in the other direction

I understand your disgust at sites like this. (Reminds me of the Black-run site Hot Ghetto Mess.) I agree is shows huge class bias and just plain mean-ness. But I always try to be careful not to go too far in the other direction. Paternalism/maternalism is just as bad a look as what these sites are doing, IMO, and just as big a demonstration of unchecked class privilege.

For example, why must the man in the stained t-shirt be "poor," someone who "may not have a clean shirt to wear." Even "the poor" have clean clothes, but often people from lower SES accidentally spill something on their shirts before arriving at a store just as middle income folks can.

A post like this, in a forum like this, is also an attempt to feel better than someone--in this case, the folks who are trying to feel better about these Wal-mart shoppers. And we progressives have not been without our attempts to lambaste Wal-mart, claiming the store destroys communities and calling the store everything short of the final sign of the apocalypse.

"A post like this, in a

"A post like this, in a forum like this, is also an attempt to feel better than someone--in this case, the folks who are trying to feel better about these Wal-mart shoppers. And we progressives have not been without our attempts to lambaste Wal-mart, claiming the store destroys communities and calling the store everything short of the final sign of the apocalypse."

I disagree. For one thing, this post is not an "attempt to feel better than someone" - it is an attempt to call out a specific group of individuals for participating in hateful and damaging behavior. Criticism of something you disagree with is hardly similar to gleeful bashing of an oppressed social class. We're not making these comments to boost our egos. We are speaking out against something we think is wrong.

Also, this post is hardly criticizing Wal-Mart itself. In fact, neither this post nor "People of Wal-Mart" are even focused on the actions of the Wal-Mart corporation. The fact is - and even the makers of the POWM site can see this - that Wal-Mart, being the most powerful discount retailer in the nation, attracts a certain demographic, which often includes the working poor. Even if Wal-Mart were some kind of angel company that progressives loved, this would still be true. Thus specifically targeting those who shop at Wal-Mart inescapably targets a specific social class. If this site were "People of Nordstrom," now that would be different.

If the blogger can read into

If the blogger can read into what she thinks is the intent of the "People of Wal-mart" folks, then certainly I can apply my own critical thinking skills to criticize this Bitch blog post as yet another example of how we progressives can be extremely paternalistic. To me, paternalism/maternalism can be just as damaging as this site's--I fully agree--hateful commentary. If you do not read the responses here and elsewhere as largely self-congratulatory, then so be it. I do read it that way.

The PoW-M site could be seen as a dig at the store itself--that it attracts a certain segment of the population. Similarly, I have read progressive critiques against Wal-mart that offer little in the way of progressive alternatives to convenient, low-priced shopping venues, or paying jobs for large numbers of people who seem difficult to employ in our economy (e.g., the elderly, people with disabilities, etc).

Quandary & Demographics

What you seem to be alluding to (correct me if I'm wrong) is the quandary of being my critical of someone who is being critical, no? If that's the case, you're absolutely correct, and no, the irony is not lost on me. There is, however, a spectrum of criticism, and I think we can agree that the purpose for and what stands to be gained from my criticism differs significantly from that of POWM.

To answer your questions about assumptions made about WalMart customers. Well, they aren't assumptions. I researched the actual and intended demographics of the company's customers before writing this post. WalMart's main customer base has an average annual income of $35,000 (compared to $50,000 at Target and $74,000 at Costco), which is less 27% less than the U.S. median income of $48,200. WalMart positions itself as a low-price provider in order to attract consumers who cannot afford premium-priced products. It also provides $200 billion-plus in assistance to consumers (e.g., it offers $4 prescriptions of over 350 generic medications at over 4,000 locations worldwide) annually to bring poor and working class people into the store. No, all of their customers don't conform to this low-income picture, but most of them do. No, all low-income people don't wear stained or poorly fitting clothes, but the incidents of this happening is disproportional for those who are low-income.

I'm confused about how this relates to paternalism though. I'm not making this argument in order to protect the poor, defenseless WalMart customers who aren't able to help themselves or something silly like that. My argument is against (as I wrote earlier) spewing racist, classist, sexist, and homophobic vitriol. Can you explain how you see paternalism relating to my argument?

Like laurax0rz, I'm unclear what progressive attacks on WalMart itself have to do with my particular argument here. If POWM are making fun of the corporation (which could only be tangential to their stated purpose) because of the demographic it self-selects, they are still doing nothing more than putting forth classist humor which should not be confused with progressive critiques of the way WalMart does business.

I think I gave an example of

I think I gave an example of what I took as paternalistic, when I talked about the statement about the man being "too poor to be able to wear a clean shirt." Such statements that assume a person's presentation is due to poverty is not only a leap, but is an insult. Poverty (at least in this country) has little to do with cleanliness, as many low SES folks can tell you. "These poor people shouldn't be made fun of because they are poor and can't help it" is a paternalistic stance. As for the statement:

No, all low-income people don't wear stained or poorly fitting clothes, but the incidents of this happening is disproportional for those who are low-income.

All I can say is that I am confused. Where are you getting the information that lower SES folks are disproportionately represented in the "stained and poorly fitting" clothes department--and based on whose standards of "clean and well fitting" clothing?

To be taken seriously, and to grow as a force of cultural critique, we simply must find ways to critique efforts like this that do not fall into the same traps of privilege, "snarkiness," and self-congratulation of the very efforts we (again, rightly) dislike. In that, my beef is not "being critical of those who are being critical." It is how we are critical of these efforts that matters.

do i really need to...

pull the "poor GA girl" card out here? Because I really shouldn't have to. I should be able to make these critiques without having to justify my credibility in this "in group/out group" way b/c one's identity does not bar one from having a valid and valuable viewpoint. Alas... My own background is rural and working class (and yes, I have spent a lot of time in WalMart), so despite what you seem to be implying about my supposed class privilege, I'm not simply talking out of my ass here. I'm talking from both lived experience and empirical evidence of knowing where priorities lie for the working poor in the US. Oversimplified: Feeding one's kids and paying the rent come before new clothes and stylish haircuts. (Yes, there is a very small minority of poor people for whom this is not true.) This means that sometimes people's clothes have signs of excessive wear or they become misshapen or they don't have the best fit or the threading comes loose or they're scuffed or any number of other things that make something appear dirty even if it has just come out of the laundry. (And you and I both know that there are middle class societal standards of fashion and cleanliness, so I don't even think it's necessary to address that statement.) Not being able to wear pristine clothing that is the latest fashion is absolutely a result of not having the money to buy that shit for a whole lot of people. This is not a problem those with economic means have. (If something wears out, they replace it. Hell, many times they replace it before it's even worn out!) It's a problem that disproportionately effects the poor. And to ignore or deny that and try to make it out like I'm dogging the poor for not having things that are pristine or that I'm saying no one who has something pristine could possibly be poor just ain't right, friend. What is the benefit of that kind of misinterpretation exactly?

Nowhere did I say that man was too poor to wear a clean shirt. That's a blatant misrepresentation of my words. What I said is that his wearing a stained t-shirt may be (you see how I left a ton of room for alternate possibilities?) a result of his being poor. Those are two very different statements. In addition, neither the statement I actually made nor the statement you interpreted it to be is paternalistic unless you're using the term so broadly as to include any action or statement that may be construed as directly or indirectly sticking up for a particular person or people group (regardless of whether one belongs to that group or not). Is that your broad definition? Because if it is, you're doing the same thing for POWM.

You're right that we need to grow as a force for cultural critique, and that how we are critical matters. I prefer for someone to be critical of my thoughts and actions by listening and asking for clarification instead of making accusations about privilege and self-congratulation. To me, you came at me all kinds of wrong on this one, PPR_Scribe. I wish you'd have come at me with questions instead of finger pointing, so a dialogue could take place. How about we continue in that vein from now on?

It is unfortunate that the

It is unfortunate that the commenters who disagree with you must approach you by "asking for clarification" while those who agree may move forward with their contributions to the forum.

You certainly do not have to run the oppression olympics marathon with me or with any other commenter. I do not accuse you and you alone of privilege: The inability to recognize our own privilege--and the defensiveness when called on it--is something that most of us suffer from, and it impacts our ability to make reasoned cultural critiques. You, as a "poor GA girls" who now blogs for an on-line forum can fall prey; I, as an African American woman who is currently middle class can fall prey. I did not "come at you" the way you might have "wished," and you, of course, have every right to characterize my contributions as "all kinds of wrong." Just as I characterized your initial post and the overarching theme of the responses to it as wrongheaded as well.

We can argue for days about standards of fit and cleanliness. Like many who work on college campuses, I have seen styles of dress that include stained, torn, and ill-fitting clothing and this is by no means limited to the lower income students. I used this as an example only.

Finally I do not see where you get the sense that I am "sticking up for" these PoWM bloggers. Numerous times in my comments I have noted how objectionable I think the site is. What I take to be as paternalistic is the entire tone of debates such as this. We participate further in the voyeurism by linking to these objectionable websites and by citing specific examples in our text. We then present our objections in a snarky, venting way that does little to address this phenomenon, nor offer any alternative.

the alternative is to...

work on one's anxieties about one's own social position in a way that is constructive, not destructive. Bitch Magazine is a great example of how to do that.

This attempt at discussion is rife with problems that make it untenable. You are using only semi-related micro examples to rebut a macro argument, and the two can't be conflated. You are basing your accusations in falsities and half-truths (for example, I have responded to commenters who agreed and disagreed with me here.), which means one need spend more time addressing those tangential issues than sticking to the main argument itself. You are also using straw man after straw man to make... well, I'm sure there's a point in there somewhere, but it's not about my actual argument. At this stage, you're simply providing patronizing commentary regarding your impression about my personal flaws--another logical fallacy (ad hominem)--while failing to live up to your own ideals.

Nothing can be gained here except chasing geese in circles, and I'm not interested in that.

Thanks for the stats!

I found this piece while looking for a class-based critique of peopleofwalmart.com--I'm a PhD student in sociology currently TA'ing an intro soc course, and I wanted some material to discuss in class. This blog post combined with the Washington Post piece should make for a good handout.

I notice that the WP piece is a few years old, though, and one major issue that's been going on with Wal-Mart in the last few years is a very conscious attempt to rebrand as more like Target--which is to say, more middle-class. (This post is a couple of years old, but addresses it nicely.) Have you seen anything about whether or not this has actually raised the average income/socioeconomic status of Wal-Mart's customer base?

First off, lighten up...

There's a phrase that comes to mind, "socially acceptable" and it means what society deems acceptable based on generally accepted practices/apperances. When people step outside this arena and are deemed "socially unacceptable" then it's certainly worth a satirical remark. The people on this site are WAY outside what's socially acceptable and are even vulgar in their appearance so I think it's well worth the laughs that are provided to thousands of people around the country.

Second, it appears you're writing style is well above par and you certainly want to sound smart. If you're attacking the people who created PeopleOfWalmart.com for making fun of the poor then I'd venture a guess that you haven't spent much time with or around people who are poor and generally (I say generally because it's not always the case) not as smart as the general public. If you spent much time trying to converse with them you'd probably go nuts, because you're obviously smarter than most of us regular people reading your blog. Who else writes above most people's comprehension levels except someone who wants to separate themselves from the lower class you're attempting to be in defense of?

Just because people are poor or worrying about how they're going to pay rent next month doesn't mean they can go out and wear shorts that allow half their cottage cheese ass to be hanging out...there are kids in Walmart too ya know. I know plenty of poor people that have the decency and wherewithal to know that see-through spandex is not something that should be worn while perusing the frozen foods section.

Seriously, lighten up.

-James
http://bluetoothdouchebag.com

Ew.

James, these arguments lack substance and are annoying.

There is really nothing of merit associated with taking lurky pictures of people in public places and then making fun of them. It's mean and 6th graderish, and as a blog idea, it's a played out concept.

Just for fun, I'll also point out that you're making a really classic distinction between the "good" poor and the "bad" poor. But perhaps that's what PeopleofWalmart is all about? Good poor people would keep it quiet. They'd dress, talk, and act as if they weren't poor. They'd try to pass as not poor because that's so important if one wants to be socially acceptable, is it not? And it's funny because these people don't get that they aren't supposed to look or seem poor. Hey, maybe some of them aren't even poor, but they don't understand how not to look poor. Hilarious!

why do...

people come to a blog that exists as a forum for feminist criticism and tell writers to lighten up, which I read as "stop being critical"?

In addition to what Jordan said, "socially acceptable" also means "socially constructed". Given that we live in a whitesupremacistcapitalistheterosexistpatriarchy (thanks bell!), these norms are created to privilege particular groups and disadvantage others. Making fun of people who are deemed "socially unacceptable" simply reinforces these norms, and I'm not interested in reinforcing the whitesupremacistcapitalistheterosexistpatriarchy. I'm interested in dismantling it.

It's interesting that you'd make the (false) assumption that my perceived intellect means I can't possibly be or have been poor or spend time in poor communities without "going nuts", as it indicates your own bias that poor and smart aren't compatible identifications. Too bad to disappoint you on that one. See my above comment to PPS_Scribe for info on my own upbringing. Neither my family nor the poor in the communities in which I live and work have trouble conversing with me about these and other issues. Their comprehension is just fine, and so is my place in those communities. So you see, smart people can be poor, and poor people can be smart. Also, intelligence is not a singular concept. My step-father has an amazing knowledge of things like farming and hunting, and I learn an enormous amount about those things when conversing with him. But he probably wouldn't be "socially accepted" as "smart" because the knowledge he has isn't seen as valuable in the industrialized US.

A response to the remainder of your extremely insensitive remark has been addressed elsewhere in the comments.

Our GA Girl

Your step-dad just said to let you know the goats and chickens are missing you! Jokes aside, I think your responsive bloggers would be quite surprised to know from whence you came (and overcame). Now I'm off to Wal Mart in the pick up truck to buy some deer corn and sweet feed...and maybe a new pair of jeans. Hugsya!

Maaaahhhhh-uuuuummmmm!

Too funny that you've commented here! I think they might be quite surprised as well. From DirtyBird to the Ragin' Cajun--I've got lots of gems in my pocket, don't ya think? :)

Gems

Most definitely! Would you like to include photos? I'm sure I have several of you in your 'native environment' I could scan and post. ;)

you ask...

"why do... people come to a blog that exists as a forum for feminist criticism and tell writers to lighten up, which I read as "stop being critical"?"

why do you ask this? because we should know that feminist critics have no sense of humor? because you think you're entitled to make sanctimonious blog posts without allowing for response? maybe it doesn't mean "stop being critical." maybe it means "pick your battles."

pick your privilege?

Often when one says a battle isn't worth fighting it is because the speaker's privilege makes said battle inconsequential.

bitch is a fitting term, i suppose

yes, i'm so privileged. i don't live in rural kentucky right near a wal-mart or anything.

or maybe i'm misunderstanding what you're saying because you definitely seem to enjoy sounding overeducated as a way to overcompensate.

i'm merely baffled as to how you can even question not getting 100% support for your argument. i am a minority - and a woman. so, sorry if i feel like i have some basis for understanding the need to pick your battles. a need not born out of privilege, which is a real bitch thing to say.

is namecalling really necessary?

I wouldn't say there is a misunderstanding, per se. I'd say you've personalized what I wrote as though it was specific to you, which is completely understandable since it is in response to your comment; however, this statement is simply intended to provoke a general consideration of why some issues are seen as "worthy" and others are seen as "unworthy" and how this value shifts depending on one's standpoint.

Over-educated Bitch, signing off.

if the nomenclature fits...

if you don't want to be accused of bitch-like behavior on occasion, i would consider not writing for a magazine called, errrr, bitch.

would you rather i said that i wish you didn't sound so pretentious and condescending? because that works for me, too.

Hmmmmm

"an attempt to reinforce their own "superior" position in the social hierarchy."

You curiously seem to be guilty of the exact same thing.

Hey! Was that Sarah Palin in the swastika hoodie?? :P

Give me a break

The pictures on that site have nothing to do with making fun of the "poor" or any kind of "class consciousness." Being poor doesn't mean that you go into public half-dressed, dirty, or with a haircut from the 1980's. It also doesn't mean that you glue troll dolls to your car, or have a goat tied up in the bed of your pickup. I know plenty of people (myself included) that have had to shop for clothes at Goodwill, buy food with state assistance, and worry about where the next rent payment was coming from that didn't fit this grouping of strange sightings at the local Wal-Mart.

The fact that you think that only poor people shop at Wal-Mart speaks far more about YOUR class consciousness than the people who have snapped and submitted these photos. Get off your fucking high horse and sample a little taste of reality.

reading makes people smarter

This is what happens when people don't read the comments before posting a comment of their own.

really?

I wasn't aware one had to read all the comments, as well, in order to respond to the article you wrote. Is this because you imparted loads more wisdom in the comment section?

i guess you could call it wisdom...

though really they're just thoughtful responses to others who already made statements similar to yours.

Egad!

Ha! Just wait till that 400lb mother of 6 gives her shopping cart a push and it accelerates across the WalMart parking lot and - kabang - crashes into your formerly-pristine, ecologically-superior-to-all-your-critics-vehicle, and you see her stare vacantly, making no connection between her action and the newly-dented door, and after she hoists her umpteen children in the saggy minivan and drives off yapping on her phone while the seatbelts flap unused, and she and the young 'uns tear into several bags of the chips and candy they just bought, and you're sitting there agape as the minivan sails diagonally across all the parking lot's neat perpendicular lines... wait till then, and immediately jump in your dopey car and post a transcript of the thoughts that REALLY ran through your seemingly stuffy pate.

i don't own a car

but if i did, my response to a dented fender wouldn't be to arrogantly judge her for such things as her weight, number of children, the vehicle she drives, or choice of food consumption.

I don't think it's a big deal...

I disagree with this post. I understand the problems you're discussing, but I don't think they really apply to People of Walmart. I love that site. I think it's hilarious and I live at Walmart. The pictures posted don't have anything to do with race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. They're just funny, because some people thought it was a good idea to walk out of the house wearing those clothes. Not to mention, it's not like those of higher society are trolling Walmart looking for people to take pictures of to send in to the site. The people who send pictures in are people who shop at Walmart on a regular basis.

I'm not positive as to when this site started up, but as of late the posts don't seem to fall in line with what you mention.

I'm late to the game here

I'm late to the game here but I just wanted to say that even if this shit wasn't related to class, gender, fatphobia, transphobia and the whole shebang like you blithely claim - it would still be an idiotic gallery of Othering, created by people who think they have the authority to say what other people should and should not wear and weigh and genetically inherit. It is the laziest fucking form of "humour" that ever existed, and it is based on your own discomfort with anything you see as abnormal. Just putting that out there - if you laugh at this, you are far more dim-witted, culturally ignorant and narrow-minded than you gleefully attribute to anyone over 100lbs wearing leggings. Jesus.

I'm Even Later to the Game Here

None of the judgment is about what people weigh or genetically inherit. And, no one is made fun of for being poor. Most of the "working poor" are able to figure out what clothes fit, and maintain a basic level of hygiene.

The site doesn't make fun of people for being fat, or gay, or poor. It makes fun of people for lacking a basic understanding of taste and appropriateness. We do this all the time with celebrities on the red carpet who make terrible clothing decisions (ie: anyone who dresses like Lady Gaga but is not Lady Gaga herself). No one is being made fun of for who they are. They are being made fun of for conscious decisions they make. And, if we can't make fun of people for making ridiculous decisions, then what's left?

I disagree

I don't think the way we critique celebrities is cool. A lot of the time, magazines and people like perez hilton are mocking them for weight gain or if they're pregnant. Calling women fat and making fun of their lifestyle. No cool man, not cool.