By Jackson Wood
White trash. Even though it’s insulting, I love that label — mostly because I was once a proud member of that group.
But people shouldn’t be judged by their fashion sense or musical taste, you say. People should be judged on their inner beauty, right?
For those of us who live in the real world, where we’re required to be judgmental, life is too short to be righteous. It’s impossible for us to spend the time and effort necessary to learn about everyone’s inner beauty. We need a way to simplify the process of deciding who to be friends with and who’s not worth the time.
See, I grew up on a farm in Cobourg, and my exposure to anything cultural — music, books or movies — was limited. I had now ay to explore anything different. I read the books my parents had around, like The Joy of Sox or Bye Bye Back Pain. I listened to their records, which included the soundtrack to that Girl and Englebert Humperdink’s Greatest Hits and excluded the Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
My mom bought all my clothes. She gave me fashion advice. I love my mom but she has horrible taste. Consequently, I ended up wearing tight jeans and bad cowboy boots. I grew my hair long at the back. And when it didn’t wave just the way good hockey hair is supposed to, I got it permed. I drove several pickup trucks. I attended rodeos on a regular basis. My favourite band was Diamond Rio. I sometimes wore bandanas. That’s right, I was hardcore.
In fact, now that I think about it, I was a special member of the trash group. I was also a hick. That’s the beauty of trash — there are several varieties. In addition to “hick white trash,” there is also “trailer-park trash,” “suburban trash” and “mall rat trash.” It’s a broad category.
Back then, I was afraid of culture. I was afraid of trying anything new. I was ignorant, believing everything I knew was the only possible option. Anything else was wrong. But when I left for university in Ottawa five years ago, I was forced to branch out. Now I learn more and more every day, especially since I’ve moved to Toronto. I’ve learned that not only are baggy pants more stylish, they’re also more comfortable. I’ve learned that sometimes, just sometimes, you can wear shirts that are orange. Not all men who get their hair cut at salons are gay. Airwalks can be worn by anyone. The absence of a sweet guitar solo doesn’t make a song suck. Real cheddar cheese tastes much better than Kraft slices. There are so many things to learn.
Now don’t get me wrong — I’m still trash at heart. But I’m getting better.
There is one reason I felt all these things. And most, if not all trash I know, suffer from the same affliction. Laziness is the root cause of dubious fashion sense, questionable artistic association and an unabashed flare for the worst of everything. When you’re lazy, you don’t have any desire to seek your own style. And by style I don’t just mean fashion. Style also includes taste, attitude, and personality. With no desire to be stylish, you like what you’re told to like (usually what’s popular or mainstream) such as Ricky Martin album and Jerry Bruckheimer movies. Attitude is everything.
The point of all of this personal ranting is to make sure you understand my perspective on social labeling. I used to be out of touch. I experienced these things first-hand. I was judged. I’m not bitter or angry, I just know what I’m talking about.
So, now that you know what makes people trash, will you be any less hesitant to judge and dismiss them? Of course you won’t, and I’m not asking you to change. God only knows, I don’t want to spend hours getting to know everybody. We need shallow social classification! All I’m asking is that now when you look at someone who might a little stylistically challenged, don’t be disgusted. Don’t pick on them. Instead, try to feel a little pity. They’re just lazy and don’t know any better. Just take them under your wing and show them some of the finer things in life. Impart to them the knowledge of what a little motivation can do. They can learn to be more like you.
Jackson Wood is a first-year occupational health and safety student. He’s traded in his cowboy boots for Airwalks.