Bougie Ghetto Term Essay

1. Milk products that come from basically anyplace but cows. That’s pretty bougie. I’m talking rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk. Why isn’t regular milk good enough for people anymore?

2. Virtually anything artisanal. I bet you they don’t have anything artisanal at the local Big Lots. Why does bougie food need to be so precious that artisans have to craft it before it hath be edible?

3. Regular, everyday foods that get bouge-ified. Like apples. An apple is something that just grows on a tree and you can just pluck it and eat it right there. That’s the point. But did you know that for $30 you can get a single gourmet apple covered in various artesian chocolates and sprinkles? A $30 apple!

4. Lexus. A Lexus is a bougie car because it’s not nearly as plebeian as a Ford or a Kia, which is worse. But a Lexus is not quite at the level of a BMW or Mercedes. My cousins and I make fun of my mom because she recently got a Lexus, and she is very happy to explain to us non-Lexus owners how top of the line it is. We’re all, “Um, sit down, Bougie Betty. It’s not that hot.”

5. Unpaid Internships. Doing an unpaid internship in any industry is kind of bougie because it means, Hey, I can afford to work for absolutely no money! I know it’s hard to make it in this economy without getting your foot in the door somewhere, but still.

6. Coach bags. Coach bags are bougie because it’s luxury that’s not really luxury. But let’s not get lost in semantics. You can buy them at the mall, so I mean…

7. Ivy League Schools/Liberal Arts Colleges. Bougie people love liberal arts colleges and fancy East Coast schools because it gives them something to casually slide into conversations at dinner parties, which are also bougie. Somehow we think a glorified piece of paper that says you were in this place for four years and had threesomes with a billionaire and did cocaine with a famous person’s son makes you better than somebody who did the same thing at SUNY ONEONTA.

8. Dinner parties. Dinner parties are a bougie person’s wet dream because it’s the chance to show off those brand new Eames chairs (or the IKEA knockoffs, also bougie) and to break out the goblets with the family crest.

9. Private high schools. Is there any reason to have a $200,000 education before you even set foot in a college seminar?

10. Fighting to get your two year old into the most selective pre, pre-school in New York/LA/wherever. I know, I know — the delicate genius must be cultivated.

11. The New Yorker. I feel so bougie every time I crack open The New Yorker, which I obviously only read on my iPad.

12. Asking people if they read “that article” in The New Yorker.

13. Art openings. There’s something automatically bougie about trying to explain a work of art so profound it cannot be understood by the lay people.

14. Anderson Cooper.

15. Designer Coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but the coffee drinkers I know take that black liquid very seriously. My friend once tried to order an Americano at a fancy coffee shop in Brooklyn that shall remain nameless. The barista refused. “We don’t make that.” Dang.

16. Brunch.

17. Rose champagne. Because a $500 bottle of liquid is always a great idea!

18. Ascots.

19. Whole Foods. There’s something magical about the ambiance at Whole Foods that gets you thinking, “Everything in here is going to uplift my spirits and make me a much better person.”

20. Electric cars.

21. Organic/free range foods.

22. Foreign languages. Knowing a foreign language is so bougie. Especially if it’s one nobody speaks, like Greek or Old French.

23. The most expensive things in any category. The more expensive it is, the better. $4 juices, $30 apples. Not paying less than $70 for dinner.

24. Opera. Opera is so bougie — the bougiest place to take a nap.

25. Foods that can’t be pronounced.

26. Seersucker pants. I mean, what else are you supposed to wear to St. Barts? Also bougie? Knowing about St. Barts.

27. Season tickets.

28. Anything with a designer logo plastered all over it. Louis Vuitton bags with the LV all over it. Marc Jacobs bags with the BIG label on it. We get it, we get it: you have LOTS of credit card debt.

29. Connecticut. Connecticut is so bougie — Yale, Wesleyan, Greenwich, Guilford. Overpriced antique markets. Beach houses.

30. Caring about the environment: recycling, getting a paper bag instead of a plastic one OR bringing your own bag. So bougie.

31. Lists.

32. Telling people, “I went to a small school outside of Boston.”

Are YOU bougie? (Photo: Getty Images)

Bougie. Maybe you’ve been called it for exclusively shopping at Whole Foods or drinking absurd amounts of rosé. Maybe you’ve hurled it as an insult at a friend who can’t shut up about her new Anastasia Beverly Hills highlighter. Maybe you’ve been listening to rap group Migos’ chart-topper Bad and Boujee on repeat.

But what does the term actually mean, and where did it come from in the first place?

The ‘bougie’ backstory

Well, even though it might seem so 2017, the term bougie actually has a 100-year history (and multiple spellings) dating back to revolutionary France, before stemming off into variations of the slang word we know and love today.

So bougie, boujee, bourgie all stem from bourgeoisie, a French word that simply means “of middle class status.”

In fact, Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, used two types of economic status to illustrate class struggle (and advocate for communism over capitalism): the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

In Marxist philosophy the bourgeoisie were the owners and producers in industrialization and factory life. They typically valued property, profit and maintaining their societal status. (The proletariat was the working class. Prole is slang for “low status,” but it’s not used all that much these days.)

But over time, the adjective form, bourgeois, came to be a more generic description of middle/upper-middle-class materialism.


Bougie today

The most recent iteration of bourgeois is “bougie” or “boujee,” used to describe high-end tastes like driving your Prius to get avocado toast after SoulCycle.

It’s an equal-opportunity jab at anyone from hipsters and the coastal elite to the suburban or basic. The “boujee” variation (used by Migos in Bad and Boujee) commonly refers to middle-class or upwardly mobile black people.

Urban Dictionary’s top entry for bougie defines it thus:

“Aspiring to be a higher class than one is. Derived from bourgeois – meaning middle/upper class, traditionally despised by communists.”

So in modern-day English, someone who is bougie is creating an air of wealth or upper class status — whether it’s true or not.

Take for example the following listicles: one from Thought Catalog called “Things Bougie People Like” and one from Very Smart Brothas “40 Signs You Just Might Be a Bougie Black Person.”

Their examples include designer coffee, brunching, rosé, organic and free range food, electric cars, using “a selfie you took on top of a mountain as your Facebook profile picture,” and “milk products that come from basically anyplace but cows.”

Pop culture and appropriation

The widespread use of bougie these days has sparked a debate about appropriation. But it’s complicated, as are its connotations.

Genius calls Migos’ Bad and Boujee “a trap anthem about making money and spending time with women who have expensive taste. ‘Boujee’ is an intentional misspelling of ‘bougie,’ which is slang for bourgeois, and refers to the materialism of society’s middle class.”

Ke$ha used the word similarly in her 2010 song Sleazy with these lines: “I don’t need you or your brand-new Benz / Or your bougie friends / And I don’t need love, lookin like diamonds / Lookin like diamonds.”

But not everyone agrees that these two versions even mean the same thing.

So the word bougie means different things depending on the cultural and societal context — but the underlying similarities all point to an upper-crust kind of attitude. The more you know!

Sophia Tulp is an Ithaca College student and a USA TODAY College intern.

explainer, middle class, slang, Sophia Tulp, LIFESTYLE 



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