Anthropologie Catalog Deeply Offends Insecure White Woman

woman wearing pink top

Ah, satire. I adore it. My first exposure to it was, like many of those my age, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. Since then I have been fascinated by carefully sculptured, expertly-pointed satire pieces wherever I could find them.

So what does satire have to do with the Elle article, What You Need to Know About the Insufferable Woman Who Lives Inside the New Anthropologie Catalog that I’ll be discussing? Nothing.

It was supposed to be satire, I’m pretty sure. It was probably billed as satire in some stage of development. But it really is just a toxic white woman telling on herself. Over and over and over again.

General disclaimer: This article was published in 2016 and its writer could have very well changed her mind about many of her thoughts on what she wrote back in that lawless year. I don’t wish her any ill will, in fact, I hope she has grown and evolved and looks back on this piece with a bit of cringe and a new perspective.

So let’s get into it…

As the article begins, the author, Megan Angelo, notes, “my brain is addled by the bottomless needs of a two-year-old and a two-month-old.” Which, working as a freelance writer is stressful enough, I was stuck in freelance hell for years, and I didn’t even have children to contend with while attempting to do it. So I definitely feel for her trying to write under these conditions.

But as the introduction unfolds, Angelo decides that the catalog Anthropologie that arrived in her mailbox showcases an unfettered, cosmopolitan woman’s multiple houses in different countries, all decked out in the latest furniture and home accessories. She writes, “This woman makes me angry. I am taking her personally.” Angelo points out an expensive ottoman the woman owns, which she guesses the woman only uses for resting cake and cocktails on. Then the list of this woman’s imagined sins starts.

Angelo’s first bullet point declares this mysterious woman, who I am going to call ‘Splendid’ from now on, just to make things easier, was clearly the hottest girl in summer camp during her youth, commenting “The woman has made it to her mid-thirties without anyone telling her that liking dreamcatchers is dorky as hell.” Nothing like kicking your list off by cluelessly dismissing the history and cultural significance of dreamcatchers for Native people all throughout this country.

But it gets worse.

Angelo continues, claiming that the woman is so pretentious she has placed plants in her dreamcatchers. Which I then realized was referencing a photo placed above an ad break in the article. The photo shows a macrame plant holder (image below).

Which is not a dreamcatcher. It’s not even close. I’m not sure exactly what the confusion is here, but macrame is Arabic in origin and is thought to date back to the Babylonians.

It was bad enough when I thought she was discounting dreamcatchers as just a natural evolution for horse girls. Then I started to wonder if she (or her editor) even knows what a dreamcatcher is. Regardless, it’s gross.

Angelo continues, declaring Splendid clearly doesn’t have any pets, children, or a husband. She laments how impractical a coffee table with holes in it is, then declares that after spending all her money on the contents of the catalog, Splendid might meet “The Guy.” The guy who apparently will “-make you throw all of it away when he moves in.”

To which I sincerely wonder, if Splendid is as rich, well-traveled, and living out loud as Angelo thinks, why in the world would she allow some guy, even The Guy, to move into her house(s) and promptly dispose of all her belongings? But as Angelo mentioned earlier, she believes Splendid to be so thoughtless and silly the “-$68 French bulldog cheese board is all the responsibility she can handle.”

Children? Pets? Marriage? Not for Splendid! She fills her life with cheese instead. Which is a totally respectable life choice, for the record.

The article is littered with item prices and mentions of how expensive some of the catalog is. I find this a bit… surprising? Yes, the items are not all $9.99. Yes, the previously mentioned cocktail and cake ottoman comes in at $3498, which is entirely too expensive in my estimation. However, many of the items are pretty reasonably priced for a good quality piece of furniture. This isn’t a luxury catalog where the cheapest item you can locate is $10,000.

This kind of “they sent me a catalog, therefore it must be filled with each individual item that perfectly matches my tastes and lifestyle at what I concern a reasonable price” thinking has always baffled me. If someone wants to claim this all part of the brilliantly-scathing satire, sure, go ahead.

But as I said before, this thinking doesn’t read as satire at all. It’s someone blurting out what they really think under their socially-conditioned niceness and then trying to pass it off as a joke directly afterward. Asking, “how horrible would it be if I thought that for real?”

The article continues.

“She won the race to get to Cuba,” Angelo declares. “It’s too late for Cuba to be your thing. Cuba is her thing.” You know what Cuba is really a thing for? Cubans.

Speaking of world travels, Angelo also weighs in what she believes to be Splendid’s French friends. “I’m guessing that these girls make up the woman’s Paris clique, a fragile group never more than a cigarette away from hating each other.” Which is convenient for Angelo, because she doesn’t even seem to need a cigarette present to detest this imaginary woman so much simply because she has access to different things in life than she does.

It’s entirely too easy to forget sometimes that someone having what we want might not be what they want. Also, when someone has something we don’t, we don’t actually have to despise them for it. It’s not required.

What really bothers me about this article (beyond the fact it’s not actually satire) is passing off as insecurity as righteous indignation. Angelo has to point out all of Splendid’s flaws and silly purchases, when none of these things actually matter to anyone but Splendid. Would Angelo’s life change if Splendid was a real person buying the contents of her local Anthropologie Home or using an impractical coffee table or even dying young from smoking too many cigarettes in Paris? No. Not in the least.

While I could easily believe Angelo wrote this article on two hours of sleep in between keeping up with a toddler and an infant and then never thought about it again, it makes me wonder what she thought she was accomplishing with this piece beyond getting paid to produce it. It also makes me wonder if she’s learned what a dreamcatcher is by now.