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thamid's picture


Masquerade Ball: A Message to the Pretenders

pretending [pri-tend-ing] (v.) – the act of being something you are not

upper class [up∙per-class] (n.) – a class of people above the middle class, having the highest social rank or standing based on wealth, family connections, and the like

middle class [mid∙dle-class] (n.) – a class of people intermediate between the classes of higher and lower social rank or standing; the social, economic, cultural class, having approximately average status, income, education, tastes, and the like.

lower class [low∙er-class] (n.) – a class of people below the middle class, having the lowest social rank or standing due to low income, lack of skills or education, and the like.

mask [mask] (v.) – to disguise or conceal; hide; dissemble

Why is it that we pretend to be something we are not? “Poor people want to be rich. Rich people want to, well, blend in”


1. " I'll just have water." The trick to this one is to order the cheapest thing on the menu, never get anything to drink but tap water, and spend the whole meal complaining about how expensive the place is.
2. " I spent the weekend at my grandparents' house." Second homes or country homes are bound to give us away. Better to pretend we were visiting relatives or family friends.
3. " What does my mom do? Oh, she's in food service." To hide a job title that might imply wealth, being vague helps. For example, "vice president of a huge food service corporation" just becomes "food service."
4. " What a little spoiled brat!" They'll never guess we're rich if we're busy making fun of other rich kids!
5. " I'll just get out on the corner." The only way to hide a wealthy-looking home is to never let anyone see it. This one requires a lot of work.
6. " My student loan is enormous!" There's nothing like an imaginary loan to cover up the fact that we didn't need financial aid.
7. " Yeah, I know my shirt has a big hole, but I can't afford to get another one." No one will know we're rich if our clothes are falling apart! The key here is to get the stuff that looks old and cheap, not artsy and vintage.
8. " If only I had enough money for that." As long as we constantly refer to our extremely tight budget—and complain about it—they'll never suspect otherwise.
9. " I used the five-finger discount. Pretty cool, huh?" Rich people would never shoplift, right? Therefore we're not rich!
10." I remember when I had to shovel manure." Maybe we did have a crappy job. Maybe we were just helping out at the stable where we ride. All that matters is that it sounds like we were suffering for a paycheck, thus proving we could not possibly be rich.

Pretending To Be Rich 

  • The first step would be to make up a story. List all the elements you want it to have and practice it until you have learned each and every aspect by heart. If you make up things as you go or at the instant, you might end up contradicting yourself or forgetting the vital parts.
  • The other step would to get some designer items. Get some branded outfits and accessories. Go for a complete reshuffle of the collection in your wardrobe.
  • To pretend to be one of the members of the higher class, you need to learn certain basic expressions and be aware of the vocabulary used by the rich people. Know about the cuisine, fashion and current events that the rich people prefer.
  • Do not flaunt your so-called wealth or expensive items. Rich people would automatically know the classy items from the cheap ones. Never ever go for fakes. They are likely to be identified very easily.
  • Etiquettes are very important for rich people. Display a good code of conduct. Learn the proper way to speak, sit, eat, walk, and so on. Also, address other using properly spelled titles.
  • If you are dining with friends, make sure to pay a handsome tip to the waiter. Do not pay what a middle class man would. Remember, you are pretending to be from a well-to-do family.
  • Support a charity or a trust. At the same time, make sure you are seen and known by everyone present there, for your good manners and nature.


Upon my arrival to Bryn Mawr, I knew the school was mostly middle and upper class. I initially thought this would not bother me or affect my life at school. Boy was I wrong. I felt like I didn’t have “enough” of what everyone else had. What do I mean by enough? I mean enough money, enough clothes, enough materialistic things in general. So what is my best option? Pretend, obviously. Act like I have more than I do. Talk about special things that happen once in a blue moon, like going on a shopping spree, and pretend it’s a usually occurrence. I mean everyone pretends, even members of Congress.

‘Chameleon Claire’ McCaskill is at it again—this time trying to portray her multi-millionaire lifestyle as “middle class.”

McCaskill, who is worth at least $17 million, was ranked by Roll Call as the 18th wealthiest of the 535 members of Congress.  In fact, McCaskill has previously admitted that she is a “rich lady.” According to a 2006 New Yorker magazine profile: “Oh, damn,” McCaskill said, with a laugh. “I didn’t want you to see that I was a rich lady.” She is indeed rich, and lives in an oversized modern swooped-roof house beside a creek in a St. Louis suburb.

But now, ‘Chameleon Claire,’ who makes $162,100 as a U.S. Senator, is camouflaging her wealth and pretending to be “middle class.” According to POLITICO, McCaskill claimed that she and her husband “file separately, and I would be considered middle class—upper middle class(Blog 1).

Do we pretend because of guilt? Desire?

guilt [guilt] (n.) – a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc.

desire [de-sire] (n.) – a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment

Why feel guilty when something can be done? Feeling guilty doesn’t do anything for society. Having the desire to be something is just as useless, unless acted upon. But why do we pretend? We all have different experiences to share.

experience [ex∙pe∙ri∙ence] (n.) – the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of times

acceptance [ak-sep-tuhns] (n.) – favorable reception; approval; favor

barrier [bar-ee-er] (n.). – anything that restrains or obstructs progress, access


Having different experiences helps us understand different perspectives of class. Pretending and masking our lives ignores the class barriers and shows of our refusal to accept class. We need to share our experiences with each other and face the fact that there are differences in our societal classes. We all have something to learn from each other. The only way to make progress from here is to accept the differences and work together to no longer make class an issue.  

Class barriers are inevitable. There will always be gaps in our society that should not be eliminated, but bridged. We may not like the class we are in, or pretend to be of a different class, but hiding from it detracts from a learning opportunity. Ignoring the issue or pretending there is no issue, leaves a dark over our heads; we see it, but we do nothing about it. If the issues are addressed head on, then we can start to bridge these gaps.

If you have money, don’t hide it. Do something with it. I don’t mean to say go buy ten new pairs of Louis Vuitton pumps, but share what you have with organizations, charitable funds. So people may say that you give so much because you have so much. Let them. At least you are not shying away from what you have and using it for a good cause.

To those of us with the desire to be rich. Accept what you have and work from there. Do not be too proud to accept help from those willing to give it. Maybe they are the kick start you need to move on the class ladder. Desire will only get you so far, but acting on it will get you somewhere.

Learn from one another. We all have our own unique story. Embellishing or simplifying them will leave us right where we left off, with a cloud over our heads. Maybe that rich person can help you become your vision of success. Maybe that poor person can help you remember the simpler things in life.

Don’t stick to your defined class. Get to know other people from other classes. This is necessary for people to understand each other and learn from each other.

Yes, we all know being ourselves is the hardest part, but it is something we all need to work on in order to really make a change.


“I've got to get out of here; I can't keep pretending to be middle class” (Smith-Mines 1).

"I want to take my mask off and get out!” (Smith-Mines 1).

Breaking News:



Sources that helped me make my point

“28. Rich kinds pretending to be poor” Things I Hate About Backpacking. Wordpress, 4 Dec. 2009. Web. 3 Dec 2011.

“Acceptance.”, 2009. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Barriar.”, 2009. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Desire.”, 2009. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Experience.” 2009, 3 Dec. 2011.

“Guilt.”, 2009. 3 Dec. 2011.

“How To Pretend You’re Rich.”, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2011

“Lower class.”, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Mask.”, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Middle class.”, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.

 “Self-described ‘rich lady’ Claire McCaskill now pretending to be ‘middle class’” Missouri Republican Party. 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.


Smith-Mines, Lita. “Middle Class Masquerade.” N.p, 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.

“Upper class.”, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2011.


Anne Dalke's picture


this is lively, and engaging; I like the definitions, the instructions, the stories; most of all I like the call not to pretend, because it keeps us from learning from one another's differences. If we cover up, we'll never find out about what's underneath, and never be able to change what's there, what's troubling. But to give up on pretending, on "faking it til you make it"--what might we lose?

Last question! You say, along w/ nbnguyen, that "there will always be gaps in our society that should not be eliminated." Tell me more?

S. Yaeger's picture

T- This is awesome, but, I

T- This is awesome, but, I gotta tell you, as a waitress, rich men don't tip for shit.  The people you want to wait on are cops, firefighters and other servers.