READING GROUP WITH BABEWORLD3000: The Problem With Imposter Syndrome

Lectures/Talks, Reading Groups

(there are a few pages missing)

Notes made during the 3rd reading group The Problem With Impostor Syndrome is a chapter from a book called Steal As Much As You Can by Nathalie Olah:

  • the writing style uses a lot of academic language to make it more palatable to academia
  • the way it portrays mental health in the workplace is very centred on middle class white collar working environments- it is wildly different in working class workplaces
  • the dissonance between big brands and companies pumping out mental health slogans who at the same time pay their workers minimum (i.e. not liveable wages) which is a large factor in poor mental health amongst the working class
  • “Advertorials”- editorials in magazines that are meant to subtly advertise a product or brand they want you to buy into
  • M&S LGBTQ sandwiches- they could donate to LGBTQ charities any time of the year but they did this during Pride for publicity, made into a meme/sell-able novelty/joke/gimmick for clout – banks/companies at Pride ect
  • Brands co-opt marginalised people’s narratives and then toss them away when it’s no longer profitable
  • Kim Kardashian and her white saviour complex
  •  appropriation of platforms- safe spaces are taken over and appropriated by brands and the media
  • Advertising that masquerades as activism, whose tactics go a long way in corrupting our language and stripping our lives of a certain sensitivity; because no sooner have we found a way to articulate our feelings, then it’s commandeered by an advertsing industry which by default reduces it to cliche, leaving us once again unable to articulate ourselves…becoming emotionally impotent”
  • allies need to know when to step back and listen
  • placing responsibilities with the individual rather than the systems in place that cause the difficulties they are facing via phrases like “reach out” and “love yourself” than brands pump out
  • social mobility- forcing people to perform and change things about themselves in order to move up the social ladder
  • people forget or ignore their privileges and assume that because they have been successful that anyone from their background or similar can too
  • “radical education” – Radical to who???
  • solidarity is a choice- you can choose to act or not act, whereas people you are in “solidarity” with don’t necessarily have a choice
  • “code switching”
  • Whilst it might go against the ideas peddled by most self-help and management books, I would suggest that rather than internalising the structural shame imposed by the corporate workplace, as well as by certain seats of learning and social circles, it is important for all of us to remain vigilant to the many ways in which is dehumanises and strips us of our identity” we are always told it’s our fault for not being good enough, not the systems failing us, is the message we’re fed- we just need to try harder! We need to realise that these are lies and stay vigilant to these messages we are being fed as they impact how we treat ourselves and others
  • we are sold the idea that the “working class dream” is to no longer be working class
  • discussion around accents and how it can change how we are perceived, understood and treated; and how we change our accents to fit different situations or as a way to distance ourselves from where we are from
  • To do this, it’s essential to remember that in the market economy, you- your body and your mind- are no more than a commodity in the eyes of your employer, and that any attempt they make to improve your wellbeing is for the sake of securing profit” CORPORATIONS AND BRANDS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!! YOU ARE A COMMODITY TO THEM
  • “…find ways of putting that experience as an imposter to good use: writing about your experiences, harnessing the dynamics you witness to mount political movements to create a more empowered workforce” this bit kind of doesn’t match up to the rest of the text in my opinion- it takes a lot of mental energy to be able to do these things, on top of already working probably full time and trying to manage your life. When you are already mentally ill/a person of colour/working class/trans/gay/under privileged in some other way being expected to then be an activist and fight for your rights on top of all this is a really big ask! Yes we are angry, but we’re too exhausted to constantly be fighting it on top of the everyday battles we face.
  • Allies need to step up and help marginalised people in this and support them- stepping in when you can see your friends struggling under the weight of their marginalisations
  • An example: If you are cis and in a meeting rather than waiting for your trans/non-binary friends to announce their pronouns, jump in and introduce yourself with your pronouns! This takes the pressure off of them, normalises the conversation, and gets everyone else to share their pronouns without making your trans/non-binary friends feel awkward or uncomfortable and making them feel like they have to out themselves just to have their pronouns respected

Reading Group With Babeworld3000: “The Pleasure Button: Low Income Food Inequality”

Lectures/Talks, Reading Groups

PDF of scans of the text above

Notes made during the reading group:

  • Fish and chips on a Friday night with my Granddad
  • sharing of working class experiences via the reading group
  • “aftertaste of regret” – this hit me because immediately after eating or drinking a “treat” you start to regret it and think about all the things you should have spent the money on instead. Also as someone with an eating disorder I am also hit with the guilt that I shouldn’t have eaten something that unhealthy, and start to spiral about that
  • coca cola- Andy Warhol, shared experience- everyone knows what it tastes like and can have the same experience
  • “press the button” really like the rhythm, it flows well
  • “the pleasure button” it’s exactly that, scratching an itch
  • being working class isn’t a monolith- it can vary area to area, and is really diverse- there are some experiences that are universal, but some that are dependant on various factors
  • This text is definitely very focused on the British working class experience, but it does feel super white
  • Right wingers see working class people as pawns but we are also demonised by the left
  • commodification of working class aesthetics and foods by non working class people
  • “Distracting myself from depression” “I associate bad food with free time”
  • the more visible markers of class and the invisible boxes that are tangible but harder to see
  • fast food is immediate relief and a break from reality- nothing exists but that momentary enjoyment- it can be all we have in an otherwise mundane and hopeless existence full of worry
  • facts mixed with lived experience and feelings
  • real life lived experiences are just as valid as facts and figures, if not more so
  • the current education system needs to change- representation needs to improve, and the curriculum needs to become more diverse and accessible, the system needs to change so that we don’t just have to conform and fit into the system in order to learn, achieve and become successful- we shouldn’t have to perform to fit in

This is the first time I’ve been part of a reading group like this and I really enjoyed it! It was nice to be part of a group of working class artists like myself (I found at uni I was always in the minority in this regard) and to be reading a piece of work specifically about class with these people; we all found we had shared experiences and common ground despite being from a range of places in and outside of the UK. The essay focused on food and it definitely rang true to a lot of my own experiences growing up and even now living alone in London and being self sufficient- my choices even aged 25 are deeply rooted in my working class childhood.