I can't recall much from those two years but her, I remember vividly. A year senior to us, she was someone everyone noticed, even the most serious bookworms and nerds who seemed to live and breathe S1 and P1 syllabuses. Amongst us scrawny, scruffy schoolgirls she was fabulousness personified. Each and every outfit she wore was by some designer or the other, we were told, and the clatter of her six-inch stilettoes stopped exams mid-way. She reeked of heady, expensive French perfumes (because nothing less will do), and she got her nails done on a weekly basis from her personal manicurist. She didn't have much head for academics but she was surrounded by this pristine aura that she was above all that nonsense. While plebeians like us had to forego birthdays, anniversaries and other sundry family gatherings to attend classes and get good grades, she used to take off mid-term for shopping trips to Bangkok, Singapore and sometimes, to London. Once I overheard her remarking to a fellow plebeian that she only ate fruits especially flown in from Thailand and her family owns a property in Gazipur to grow organic vegetables for her because local produce just wasn't good enough. That was a good decade ago, and a few days earlier I found her on Facebook by happenstance. Clad in a stylish Gucci shirt she was holding a glass of Mimosa while vacationing in the Italian Riviera. And her cover photo read, “Whoever said money doesn't buy happiness didn't know where to shop!”
Welcome to the world of the Material Girl. She sleeps on three-hundred thread count French linens, drinks only natural spring water, doesn't repeat an outfit and gets her hair dyed at only at her trusty salon in London. Living in luxury is way of life for her and well, not a luxury! Her appreciation for the good life is insatiable and the higher she rises the higher she wants to go. She drops five figure amounts on shoes, handbags, clothes and accessories every season without batting an eyelid, and her Instagram is a testament to her ultra-luxurious life. Sounds familiar? Because she's most likely someone you know or kind of know. For some this phenomenon may seem ridiculous, her expenses exorbitant and sometimes, downright absurd. But you know what? In her head it's all perfectly reasonable. She is fabulous beyond belief, everyone always admires her sense of style and she has a thousand followers on social media. To her, life is beautiful.
These women are in a league of their own. Some are born into wealth and privilege; they are brought up in a lavish way from childhood that becomes a lifestyle as they grow up. Then there are others who are not so fortunate. The rise of the social media and its omnipresence in our lives acts as a constant reminder of the material goods one needs to live the good life. But the pressing question is, where does one draw the line? How much is too much? And how does one maintain this high life in the long run?
For those who are born into wealth may inherit it, are at times educated and equipped with the skills and smarts to make their fortunes go the extra mile. Wealthy women who marry wealthy men sometimes secure their steep spending habits by way of their double fortunes. Many women rise to the top with hard work and determination, while some marry into money. No matter what the source is, maintenance of the high life needs work, literally and figuratively! The fact is, sky is the limit when it comes to our needs, even more so for these women. Those who can afford to spend millions on Manolos should go right ahead but horror stories of some racking up mountain-high debt to finance a high life are not uncommon. Once you get the taste of good things nothing less will do. And this creates a host of problems for those who don't know where to draw the line.
And this phenomenon is not exclusive to women. Men are also a part of this club with their fancy, envy-inducing watches, cars, planes, boats, properties and gadgets. We all have that cousin who only wears Ferragamo drivers and that uncle who only drinks single-malt scotch and smokes Cohiba cigars. In many ways some men spend more on their toys than the women in their lives. The reality is, the lure of luxury is hard to resist and is not gender-biased. Men at times have easy access to wealth because they are in control of it and do not think twice before getting the latest BMW or the Hublot simply because they want it. Women are looked down upon for being shallow and materialistic but men can be so too. What is common between them is the pursuit of the good things. Appreciation for the finer things in life is well and good but it is so much more than just that. Some people justify their expenditure by claiming that they are “investing” in quality goods that is likely to yield greater returns in the long run. However, exhibiting one's substantial means has always been Man's greatest feature as well as folly. The ego-boosting properties of owning expensive things is a common thread shared by both men and women. Man is a social animal and the ability to afford pricey material things expresses the level of his success to his peers and raises his social status. And it all gets down to that primal urge for some. When one walks into a party wearing the latest designer sari and jewels, and the man on her arms is sporting an uber-expensive watch and suit-- the awe and fascination it generates gives the couple a major high. The high of the good life, if you will!
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Make-up: Farzana Shakil's Makeover Salon
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha