The Caitlyn Jenner story had just blown up; Bruce Jenner’s new body, smooth legs, womanly figure and a face reminiscent of Jessica Lange populated the magazine racks and bookstores around the city. Somehow, over dinner, the conversation swayed toward the Kardashian family, their lavish life and the question of their lives compared to those of “ordinary folk.”
“It’s such a shame,” someone commented. “Those people have no concept of reality.”
I carried the salad bowl to the kitchen, nodding my head, suddenly unsure I knew what reality was either. No, I didn’t live the Kardashian lifestyle. My face wasn’t plastered with makeup and my body is not sculpted to the perfect size. My hair isn’t always glossy and there’s gum stuck to the bottom of my left shoe.
The World Bank estimates nearly half the world’s population – over three billion people – live on less than $3.00 a day. On that kind of salary, you would have to work two days to afford a grande caramel macchiato, which costs a measly $4.25. To a small child in Ethiopia, bony and weary from lack of food, that’s ridiculous. The $4.25 quickly swiped for a beverage that may be thrown away half empty could be a meal or 18 meals.
To the neglected and abused child seeking comfort in the Laura Dester home, it is selfish.
It’s rather easy to point fingers at people like the Kardashians. They’re covered in makeup, their bodies are contoured and curved. They’re larger than life, and with every selfie, perfectly arched eyebrow and horrible crying face, people seem to fall more in love with them while equally despising them.
“They have no idea what life is like,” they said, feeding their cat Fancy Feast.
But do they? Do we?
For some reason, we were not all born into the same level of luxury. I wasn’t born with a camera shoved in my face, and I wasn’t born into nobility. But I also wasn’t born into poverty. I always had clothes on my back, shoes on my feet and a meal, no matter how simple and full of potatoes and cabbage it was.
We even go to a missions-oriented school. We see the faces of those children. We are well-acquainted with the suffering of a war-torn country or one shaken by an earthquake. And still, every week, our lavish habits remain.
The other day, my friend paid for a woman’s groceries. The woman stood frazzled, switching out brands and trying, without success to make the Kix, milk, cheese and eggs she was purchasing equal the cost of her foods stamps. When my friend offered to pay, the woman beamed. No tears. No screams of joy. Just a smile. A smile of complete and utter disbelief.
There we were, two realities colliding in the middle of Walmart.
It broke my heart.
“That was really nice of you,” I commented as we walked out.
“That was kid food,” she said simply. “She should be able to buy milk and cereal, and go home.”
I complain and worry about student debt, but my bank account always has enough for car repairs, monthly payments and the occasional beverage or night on the town. I worry about gas prices going up at home, but my car always has gas. My clothes aren’t the one’s that grace the pages of Vogue, but they’re still nice. New. Current.
To me, this is my reality. And it’s painfully skewed.