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  • Ania Schwartzman

entitled bitch! the lessons I learned from a recent encounter

A black mercedes metris pulled up to the curb—could this be my via share ride? As I approached the car, I overheard the teenager nearby tell her mother that the car did not match the license plate they were waiting for.

I jumped into the street to see if the parked car’s license plate matched the car I was waiting for.

Realizing it did not, I proceeded back to the sidewalk next to the teenage girl standing with her mother.

The woman looked to be in her 50’s. She wore a dumpy oversized sweater and baggy sweat pants. She had on a wool beanie, something she probably threw on quickly just to keep her head warm. Her teenage daughter looked age appropriate and trendy, probably in something Brandy Melville.

As I stepped onto the sidewalk, the woman shouted out to me “why would you step in front of the car?!”

I assumed she meant this out of concern for my well being. I responded, “the car is parked, I would not have been hit”.

The woman retorted, “you stepped right in front of my daughter!” (not true; said daughter was standing on the side walk). “Who do you think you are?! You have no right to stand in front of my daughter, you don’t own the street!”

At this point, I looked down and noticed that my own daughter, 10 years old, started to cry. She was scared. As much as I like to pride myself on raising a city-kid, she really is quite sheltered. This NYC moment was new for her.

The Mama Bear in me kicked in and in a stern and loud voice I said, “Do not talk to me like that in front of my daughter!”

My response only served to fuel this woman’s fire. “You are so entitled!” ”You bitch!” Who do you think you are?!”

I tried to stay calm but stand up for myself. I kept repeating,

“Do.not.talk.to.me.like.that.infront.of.my.daughter!”

I tried to console my daughter, who was begging me to take her home.

The enraged woman went on screaming at me “You entitled bitch! You think you are so great! You’re not! Oh is the entitled baby crying now? Boo hoo! “

At just that moment, our Via arrived. I grabbed my daughter and we got into the car.

As we drove towards school, I tried to console my little one by offering explanations to make sense of the crazy situation. I wanted to say that the woman was mad because she’s stupid and ugly. But I knew better. Instead, I said perhaps the woman was angry because she’s dealing with a divorce, or maybe she lost her job or maybe she received bad news.

Eventually, my daughter calmed down and went to school.

As I walked to my office, I kept thinking about what the woman said. She called me ‘entitled’. She asked if I thought I owned the street. We clearly both lived in the same neighborhood since we were both waiting for a shared car in the same place. What on earth would give her the impression that I was an entitled bitch? She insinuated that I am rich, unkind, rude and pushy. She assumed that I have no empathy for people. That only my world matters.

What was it about me that gave off that impression?

I thought about what I was wearing. I had on my long coat. A beautiful steel blue cashmere garment designed by Dior. On my feet I wore stunning leather boots. And on my arm I was carrying a casual but elegant book tote constructed by Dior.

She assigned me a status of social power without knowing anything about me. Do people assume that those who wear quality expensive clothing are detestable?

A study by Hudders et al. (“The Rival Wears Prada," 2014) found that with respect to how women are perceived by other women, women who consumed luxury items were viewed as younger, more ambitious, sexier, and more attractive and flirty, but also less loyal, smart, and mature.

This woman viewed me as dangerous competition that looked attractive yet had nothing of value to offer. Would all women perceive me in the same way? I don’t think so. I think women who are confident and empowered would not feel as threatened by me as this particular woman did. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the beholder is a depressed and angry person, how she feels about herself will taint the perception of the world she takes in.

That said, I learned a few things:

+It will be helpful to remind myself that if the observer judges me on what I wear, I need to be mindful of what I am putting on my body.

+Knowing that people will judge me based on what I am wearing, I can go into a situation informed by this assumption and not feel defensive or angry when it happens. +Surround myself with strong, confident, empowered women who will see me for the good person I know I am.

+New York City is filled with whack-a-doodles.

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