If you look ‘poor’, does it mean you are broke?

I have been thinking about this idea of having to look super-glossy when you go shopping. Since being back here, I have been reminded how important looks are. People from all walks of life in Tanzania make a huge effort to look good even if they are just going to the supermarket. I think this is great. What I don’t like is the dirty looks you can sometimes get if someone thinks you look messy or unkempt.
Case in point: the other day, I went to the Sea Cliff hotel, one of the premier hotels in the city. I was there waiting on my cousin so we could go to lunch together as she works in the area. After going to the cafe at the hotel and paying for a tea which was average at best, I left and stopped by the lavatories at the hotel. I popped in, and the male toilet attendant gave me one of the dirtiest looks ever.

He just said I could not use the toilets because they were for guests. How the F do you know I am not a guest? More to the points, those toilets are generally for anyone who uses the hotel’s services. I paid for a hotel service (unknown to him) and I deserve to use that toilet. I looked casual, just wearing a polyester printed dress with ballerina flats that had some mud on them. Shit happens: you walk in mud to get to the hotel. There is no dress code there. I was annoyed at how abrupt he was just assuming I was someone off the street.

This is not the first time I have been brushed off by people like that, just based on what I am wearing. When I go shopping, I wear polo shirts and knee length shorts because casual clothes act as a blank canvas on my body so I can imagine what the clothes will look like when I pick them up. Instead, several sales assistants here have given me dirty looks. This is not paranoia as it keeps happening.
Which leads me to think, people either look at me and judge me on the clothes I am wearing and think I am broke as hell when I am out and about during the day or people are just being nasty?
Have you been judged by looking too casual? Do people think if your clothes look messy or sloppy during the day when you are running errands that you are automatically broke?

I should add, I love high fashion as you all can tell if you read this blog regularly. When I am running errands or going shopping, I look extremely casual because I like being a blank canvas so I can soak up the things around me.


2 thoughts on “If you look ‘poor’, does it mean you are broke?

  1. I started to noticed this once I started working in retail and would spend more time in the mall. It bothered me at first but now I use it to my advantage. If I don’t feel like being bothered when I shop I will dress down and wear shade. None of the employees will offer to help or constantly pester me if I look “broke.” When I don’t feel like doing all the work myself I will dress up and the employees will run around and find everything I am looking for. It’s sad the ppl can’t stop judging others based on appearance.

    • I comlpetely agree – I think it’s sad and painful. Just because someone looks very casual or relaxed does not mean they are broke!

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