Attending the University of Virginia was a strange experience. I learned a great deal, but in social terms, it was not a good place to be a working-class, scholarship student without a car. The place was governed by rigid social hierarchies and the dating scene was not exempt. I wouldn’t say that was the only reason I ended up a dating reject during my time at Virginia, but it was certainly one key cause.
When I got my first full-time job, I decided that I had to change my image. I figured that if I dressed like the U.Va. guys who were most popular with U.Va. women, I’d be more likely to get dates at my new locale. I bought some suits and other business-class wear, though it wasn’t required for my job. I also bought some casual clothing from over-priced East Coast clothiers.
Shame on me for that. I’m sorry to report that I did it and even more sorry to report that it worked, in some cases. It was all a long time ago, but I’m still embarrassed by that attempt to present myself as someone who was nothing like me.
If you are the sort of person who is impressed by suits, allow me to quote Thomas More. He wrote that, “how fine soever that thread may be, it was once no better than the fleece of a sheep, and that sheep was a sheep still for all its wearing it.”
The moral of the story is that it’s disgraceful for working-class people to try to pass for bourgeois. (It’s also disgraceful for bourgeoises to try to pass for working class, a phenomenon clinically known as Bill O’Reilly Syndrome, but that is a different type of offense.) You may think you’re just trying to be accepted, but you will ultimately regret reinforcing the same system that made you feel bad about yourself in the first place.