Hetty Douglas – the name which has infamously hit recent headlines.
Whether it be Hetty, Hattie, Georgina or Beatrice, Oliver, Rory or Harry, they all seem to embody the same lifestyle, attitudes and dress style.
You’ll see them in Russell Groups, museums, gentrified bars in Clapham, intolerably chatting absolute drivel about their travels to daddy’s skiing chalet in France, or their soul-searching summers spent in Thailand or Africa, completely oblivious to the ordinary areas and people that surround them, or the areas they are polluting with gentrification.
Don’t be fooled by their faux fashion – many of them parade about in ‘roadman’ attire, trying to mask their wealth with a poor aesthetic, assuming putting on a Nike or Slazenger jumper from Sportsdirect and knowing a few garage songs, whilst sat on their Macbooks and wearing Daddy’s Signet ring, will hide the fact that they are drenched in privilege. They may dress working class but they do not know, or want to genuinely be subject to the daily struggles of working class people. As Davidson writes, dressing in traditional working-class clothes is a way of ‘diffusing the negative connotations of being wealthy’.
Hetty Douglas is a perfect exemplification of this – an ‘artist’ who has been publicly, but rightfully, shamed for mocking a group of ‘workie’ men popping into McDonald’s in the middle of what I presume, from my own family, to have been a long, hard day. Hetty reduced and pigeonholed the men to be nothing more than a working-class caricature and stereotype – uneducated people who ‘look like they got 1 gcse’ (Note: if you’re trying to insult someone about their lack of education at least check your own grammar, babes).
Months prior to this, Hetty cried wolf about the unimaginable struggles about being stereotyped and her supposed ‘impossible desire to fit in’ and ‘the insufferable ‘pressures of trying to belong today’ – I really can’t imagine the struggle of being a Peckham hipster who genuinely can’t fathom that bright and clever working-class people exist.
However, educated or not (which shouldn’t be a factor of self-worth regardless), working-class people are still subject to normalised discrimination. My own University experience, for example, was highly isolating for the most part due to the embarrassment I felt as a working-class Scouser, and the microcosmic ways in which classist stereotypes have been subtly ascribed to me – a transcription of the toxic culture of Russell Groups which are infamous for chants such as ‘Your dad works for my dad’ and ‘You’re thick, you’re poor, you couldn’t even score’ . These territorial statements, that set a toxic warning to working-class people, are even more disheartening when the ones often screeching these slogans are the ones that try to appear working-class.
I can even recall a group exercise where I was specifically assigned the role of a ‘poor worker’ in a group project by the rest of the privately-educated group I was working with, so aptly characterised by the below Twitter thread:
as soon as the trend of seeming poor fades as it will at some point, these posh white man will go back to laughing at us publicly
— jessa (@housemaiden_) September 4, 2017
i was so ashamed of my yard & family income & staunchly working class ma & literally augmented my accent to be taken seriously as academic
— jessa (@housemaiden_) September 4, 2017
And yes … it is disingenuous to blame one 20-something rich girl for social inequality, but it is important to acknowledge it is the likes of Hetty reinforcing classist stereotypes whilst paradoxically appropriating working-class culture and being accredited for doing such. Take her piece of ‘’art’’ for example:
This piece itself, entitled ‘You’re peng but your English is Shit’ epitomises the irony of young upper-class Britons: they want to use street language to insult those who invented it yet also capitalise on it as an aesthetic. Let’s not forget the racist and classist undertones of this piece which, in comparison, make my 6 year old cousin’s drawings, look like a Monet masterpiece.
Ironically, when working-class people and people of colour use words they actually invented such as ‘peng’, we’re ‘chavs’ and ‘radgies’. But when the likes of Hetty, Hattie and Beatrice use it it’s “art”.
It goes to show that working-class people, regardless of their intelligence or educational status, are simultaneously reduced to classist stereotypes yet appropriated as a mere temporary aesthetic to play with once rich students with little imagination, or originality for that matter, have fled the oh-so restrictive and unfair burdens of private and boarding school.
Overall, the message I’m trying to get across amidst this rant is: Gan radge. In 2017, we need to hold less-than-mediocre rich kids who think they can deflect their toxic beliefs, accountability and privilege in society by simply dressing like a total scruff. We need to start critiquing the likes of those such as Hetty Douglas who think it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to belittle those people whose culture they exploit for mere, and often temporary, artistic and aesthetic pursuits.
Originally from Liverpool, Sophie Webb recently graduated from university in Politics and Geography alongside two years of English Literature. An enthusiastic and passionate character, her particular interests are those such as class, feminism and the arts.