SINGAPORE — I was waiting at the huge Christmas tree in Takashimaya Shopping Centre for my best friend and couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to step through the exclusive doors of Tiffany and Co.
But I decided against it, because I didn’t feel like having someone pull me by the shirt collar, having the words “GET OUUUUTT!” yelled into my face and getting thrown out through those exclusive doors.
The funny thing about my decision was not because I was concerned about the way I dressed. I thought it was a pretty sophisticated look: black top, pale pink pants and my pink heels, accessorized with my titanium-chain necklace and shiny glitter-studded bangles. And, of course, I was armed with my trusty ATM card.
So why didn’t I push open the glass doors that had been waxed and polished to perfection, and step into the shop that was glittering with objects fit for only the rich and famous?
Well, simply because I’m not rich and famous.
And my ATM card certainly doesn’t contain enough funds to buy one-thousandth of the smallest Tiffany jewel there.
But that’s not all.
I could go in and not buy anything, stating the obvious reason, “I can’t find what I’m looking for” and be sure that the lady behind the counter would tell me, “Thank you for coming!” before gracefully open the door for me to walk out.
I didn’t go in because I felt I wasn’t worthy enough to step into such a shop.
I didn’t want to dirty the luxurious-blue fur mat that spelled “Welcome” with my heels that spelled “I was bought at a 20% discount!”
I didn’t want to stain those perfectly clear glass doors with my hands that never received a $100 chocolate and papaya enzyme spa treatment before.
Most of all, with the sleek and high-class set-up of the shop (or should I say, a boutique) and its unique, for-the-rich-only ambiance, I knew I didn’t fit in at all.
I would have felt so out of place that I would have run out of the boutique myself without the help of the bouncer.
This is what is known as an inferiority complex.
The decoration and design of the boutique was not solely meant to cater to the tastes of their powerful and almighty customers. It was also to keep the middle class, the average folk, people like me, out of the boutique by tweaking that nerve in the brain which makes us feel inferior.
Of course, it doesn’t help that while the mat says “Welcome,” the doors always remain closed, waiting for the correct pair of hands to push it open.
I couldn’t help but notice these two young girls who were standing at the display window outside Tiffany and Co, gazing at the treasure in it. One of them commented, “When I grow up, I will make sure I earn lots of money so I can shop inside!”
Barely into her seventh year of life, and already, the idea of materialism is creeping into her mind.
It doesn’t make sense that there are hard-core campaigns out there to “Save the Earth,” “Stop Discrimination” and “Help the Poor,” but the back door is being left open and unchecked.
People yearn and desire for material wealth, in this young girl’s case, and discrimination is unconsciously taking place in normal shopping arenas, in my case.
This has become so natural and common, a part of our everyday lives, that we just don’t realize it.
And we wonder why those campaigns out there are not being as fully effective as they ought to be.
Of course, there is no way Tiffany and Co. would change the aesthetic appeal of its boutique for my inferiority complex’s sake.
So I guess it is up to me to stay away from them for the good of myself, society and the earth, and settle for the glitter-studded bangles that I got at a flea market in Bangkok.
That is how I live my life to the fullest.
Geraldine Soon is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.