Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Help Me Paint a Picture..

Help me to paint this picture....

Help me to better see what is being described...


No, not what's leftover once you finish your supper. No, not the wrapper off your snickers bar. Nor the empty can from your diet Dr. Pepper.

No, the "trash" that is referenced in "That's so trashy!" or "They are so trashy." or "They are such white trash" or even "Their trailer trash." Though those last two are more detailed, I'm assuming there is more to them than just being someone who is "white" or someone who is living in a "trailer," but I could be wrong.

I'm assuming we've now straightened out the differences between what's kept in your kitchen under the sink (or in the pantry) and the "trash" I'm needing help describing here.

Even if you've never used the term before in that manner, you've most likely heard it used in this sort of a context. However, while I could sit here right now and name some of you reading this that I know that I have heard it come out of your mouth, I'm not going to put ya on the spot like that (I always hated when teachers would do that to me)...HA! So instead please just voluteer by leaving a comment and help me out.

I need a picture of what makes someone, or i suppose even an action or a behavior, "trashy." I mean if we are going to be able to use the term as an adjective to describe a person or an action, isn't it important to be able to define what makes it up?

So help me out...tell me what catches your eye out there on the street or on television that makes you immediately think:"trash."

Let me get it started...

Someone recently tried to help me with this question that I've brought before y'all today and they said "Someone who doesn't care about how they are living."

Is that it? Is that what distinguishes someone as "trash" from someone who isn't "trash" in your mind? Is there more to it? Is that definition lacking something? Is that not the proper distinguishing quality?

Is it where someone shops? Is it where someone lives? Is it what someone wears (or what they don't wear)?

Come on....if we are going to use the term we need to know what it means...help me out...


GITCHA said...

Someone who or something that does not fit the norm of society from which we are accoustomed. We use that term to describe those or something for which we do not understand. I can't possibly know why someone paints their house red, green, and pink (I saw this in farmers branch once)and while I would refer to it as "trashy" or just "strange" I think this way because I do not understand that or them. I can't seem to wrap my mind around it b/c it is not the norm from which I am accoustomed.
In another way, the average American can be trashy to others because they drive a BMW or their house may look trashy b/c it is painted with ONLY one color. If I am not accustomed to nice cars or houses that are painted only one color and I don't understand that lifestlye then living that way could be trashy as well. This goes both ways for ALL types of people and things.

Amanda B. said...

When I hear someone say that or think it to myself, I usually think it means someone who doesn't care enough about themselves to care for themselves, their property, or those around them. I don't typically think of it as connected to a particular race or area of the city/state/country or even socio-economic status. After reading the other comment, though, I do think that some of it has to do with what I believe to be socially acceptable norms. What I might think of as "trashy" here is definitely not what I would think of as "trashy" in an extremely poor area in Africa, even though the people might look and act the same ways. Interesting to think about, Kim.

Liza said...

I hope you don't mind a complete stranger butting in with a comment. I found this post intriguing. I think the term "trashy" is definitely an American one. The term doesn't fit one race, geographic location, lifestyle, or economic status, but certain stereotypical characteristics almost always accompany the type of people I think fit that description in our society. Here are a few:

They have poor hygiene and an unkempt appearance.
They have junky homes and yards, often with non-functioning vehicles on their property.
They are generally racist toward others not of their own race.
They generally have little education.
They are often loud and obnoxious.
Many are in and out of jail on "petty" crime charges.
They live poorly and usually do not aspire to better things.

If you've seen the film "Million Dollar Baby," Maggie's family is a prime example of stereotypical "trash." It's an unfortunate term, and it's even more unfortunate that people actually fit the stereotype. But, as a friend of mine says, stereotypes of all kinds exist because there are so many people who fit the description.

Holly said...

"Trash" is a term used by those minds whom do not wish to understand something quite complex. It is a label, often bringing comfort to those whom apply it. I am not sure what a true "definition" of trash is in reference to human beings -- depends on the point of reference. Why did someone ever think to devalue the human being and their dignity anyway, comparing them to something as inanimate as "trash"? Eh, some humans.

julesforstenholm said...

Wow. Convicting. And weird. I was driving down the street today, when I thought to myself that something (I can't remember what) looked "trashy". And for some reason, for the first time ever, I wondered what it is that makes something "trashy". It hit me just how terribly judgmental it is to ever say that... and how very wrong to ever think of any other human being as "trash". Then I got sad because I'm so judgmental and wrong.

So, your blog comes on a day when I have been convicted of the same topic. I often call my house "trashy". I have a house. I have a bed. It's so selfish. And the only reason I say that is because I'm concerned with what other people think. Sad.

Good blog. If I truly buy in to what my religion tells me, it's that we are ALL made in God's image. Not just those of us who can afford nicer things or who don't leave our Christmas lights on all year long (uh-oh... I'm guilty of that!). My 7th grade science teacher passed out a piece of paper to all of her students on the first day of school that said "God don't make no trash".

That sums it up purty well.

A. Lo said...

I'd say that trashy is almost always a derogatory term, and it usually applies to someone of a lower socio-economic status or something we consider to be "beneath ourselves" or "just plain tacky."

The thing is that none of us want to admit that we have this innate reaction to people/things, because it makes us look like horrible, bigoted people. Using the term "trashy" is just one of many ways that we express bias, even if we don't realize it, even if we don't think we mean it in a derogatory manner.

A. Lo said...

And now that I think about it, describing something as "trash" or "trashy" means that they have no worth, that they are easily disposed of. At least I bet this is what it meant when the term started being used.