And it’s not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle — and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.Is this discontent necessary? When there's something you have no choice about, and somebody else who has a choice chooses that, why would you feel worse about it? I can see being envious that somebody else had a choice, but if they chose the thing you're stuck with, wouldn't that give you a fresh, positive perspective on how good that thing is? And if it doesn't, aren't you the one who needs a better attitude?
Let's try to think of examples other than living in a small house (something some people are compelled to do because they can't afford larger). These are not all exact analogies, but I want to explore the general area that the author of the linked essay (July Westhale) calls "poverty appropriation." I think she's describing something that's a subcategory of what I'm going to call envy shortcircuiting.
1. X is disabled and cannot walk and sees her neighbor Y choosing to sit at every possible opportunity.
2. X is diabetic and her doctor has forbidden her to eat anything with added sugar. She's having dinner with Y who doesn't order dessert because she just doesn't like sweets.
3. X lives in a sleepy midwestern town. Y — who had several job offers in different places — chose to move to this town.
4. X is a member of a religious group that requires him to wear black clothing. He knows this other guy who has no obligation to wear black but adopted an all-black wardrobe to make shopping and getting dressed in the morning more efficient.
5. X was a poor student in high school and couldn't get into college, so he found a job working in construction. One of his co-workers is Y, a guy he went to high school with who had excellent grades and went to a good college and graduated. X asked Y, "What are you doing working here?" And Y said: "I like to work outdoors. I like to make things."