By: Gaby Tietyen-Mlengana
NORTHFIELD, MN — Mercedes Sinclair, a student at Carleton College, decided she wanted to experience middle class life.
“With all this talk surrounding inequality and the election, I just really thought It was vital for me as an upper-class citizen to understand what it’s like to be middle class.” Sinclair struggled to find ways that she could experience the hardships of living under $150,000 a year without actually spending less than $150,000 a year. After some rest and relaxation and a few glasses of champagne in a much-needed Venice getaway, her friend Jaqueline came up with groundbreaking idea to remove the Canada Goose patches from their jackets when they returned for winter term.
“At first, I was 100% against her idea. Without those patches, how would people know that my parents can pay full tuition? But after I saw someone in a North Face jacket, I just really wanted to understand what they were going through.”
The process of removing the patch took place three days before she returned to school.
“I didn’t know if I enough time. I made my mom call the tailor as soon as I got back. Maurice did an impeccable job. No trace of the patch remained.” When she came back to campus, Sinclair reported that she felt like a completely different person. After a few days going patchless, she understood the toils of being middle class in America.
“It was so difficult. The jacket was still amazingly warm, but I just felt different. No longer did random passerby know that I spent $1000 on a jacket. I wondered if this was what it was like to have nothing.”
Sinclair said that after five days of her experiment she had to take drastic measures.
“On Friday I just, I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like somebody had taken away all my privilege. So I decided to balance my mental health with a ‘middle class’ experience. I plan to downgrade to North Face or Patagonia.”
But Sinclair remains grateful for her experience.
“Even though it was hard, it just made me realize that being middle class is difficult. I mean, I couldn’t imagine not visiting Europe at least four times a year! Without a top tier, brand name jacket, I had to face my privilege. I told my father that next year he should only buy me one Canada Goose jacket and donate the rest of the money to a vacation fund for the underprivileged.”