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When did ‘posh’ become an insult?

Did I miss the memo saying that to be ‘posh’ is suddenly to be as socially unacceptable as traffic wardens and sex pests?

Actually did I miss the set of rules that define how posh behaviour and dress is no longer acceptable?

And when did calling someone posh become an insult?

Over recent weeks I’ve noticed a trend niggling away at so-called posh behaviour – its usually categorised as wearing pearl earrings, buying from the Boden catalogue or having the right/wrong buggy.

There’s even a guide posted on a blogger forum this week with a list to tick to say if you’re posh and therefore not a ‘friend’.

That post isn’t a one off, it is in good company, even the BBC (who most people would put at the posher end of the spectrum) have been accused of having a lexicon of abuse against those they perceive as posh.

When did posh become a bad thing?

When did we suddenly get class angst in the virtual world?

When did what we are perceived to be, rather than who we are start to count?

Ok, I admit it, by almost every single one of Sally’s list, I’m posh.

Granite worktops – only because we haven’t got around to ripping out the hideous kitchen this house came with.  We have an Aga, presumably that ranks us as mega posh?  Ignore the fact that it came with the house and I’ve fought with it for the last three years.

Smart beach used for a Boden shoot – probably, we borrowed my much smarter brother in law’s house for our week of family holiday and yes, its prime Boden country.  And you know what, its nice there, really nice and we had a fabulous time.

Kids clothing – yes they wear Boden, mostly bought in the sale, always on a discount code and mixed up with the usual set of shops.  And you know what, I like Boden it does nice clothes that aren’t in saccharine pink or with inappropriate slogans.  So what?

Living room – wood burning stove, flat screen TV.  Probably too much wooden floor to pass this one – that’ll be because I haven’t got around to replacing the rug that didn’t survive my rather too fast home birth… use your imagination here.

Oh and shucks, I have a bugaboo and a Hobbs coat.  Oh and I also wear pearl earrings.  And I have a Barbour and a pair of hunter wellies.

So presumably I am now no longer a proper blogger, no longer a valid member of this community because I speak in an RP accent because yes, I am middle class and can’t really do anything about it.

But you know what, if people really do care that much then fine – I’ve not been about hiding who I am, this is me people, you can take it or leave it.

If you’re not going to send me to Coventry and ignore me and you’re going to be at The MADs next pop over and introduce yourself – I’m going to be harder to spot now I’ve realised I can’t wear my tiara and furs…

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25 comments to When did ‘posh’ become an insult?

  • Becky

    >I had mums cut me at DD's old school as I was classed as posh because of my accent… I can't help the fact I was brought up in Buckinghamshire…

  • Sally

    >Um, the post was just a joke, I'm actually posh by my own quiz anyway. Granite, Boden, Hobbs, shutters – no KitchenAid but I have lots of Dualit.

    I just felt to say, "Get lost loser" after telling someone they weren't posh would sound a bit harsh, hence writing, 'Welcome friend.'

    Twas intended to be self-deprecating rather than insulting.

  • spudballoo

    >Um, I think you're taking it a bit too seriously and rather personally? No need to be defensive!

    I'm posh. That's just who I am. But that's ok. I don't feel attacked though. And if I was I attacked, I would smite the commoners with my tiara 😉

    Just be who you are, all the rest is detail x

  • Suzie Grogan (keatsbabe)

    >Watch Alexander Armstrong's Who do you think you are? He WANTED to be posh (and was). Can't help where you were brought up – I was born on border of Nth London and Herts so I could be posh or gor blimey depending on my mood… Still can!

  • zooarchaeologist

    >Yes, I admit I did make a comment about our local NCT sale and the prevalence of Boden and Bugaboos…
    It was sort of tongue in cheek though as I aspire to be posh.
    As you know, i'm a museum curator, I live in a detached house, I went to Durham, UCL and Sheffield. Sadly though, I'm just not all that posh.
    You are posh, its great; I have a properly posh friend, I'm one step closer to being posh by association 🙂

  • It's a Mummys Life

    >I'm dead posh actually, but would probably tick no to most of Sally's boxes. Apart from Boden, can't resist a bit of Boden on the kids, mixed with Primark and Tesco. I was bullied at school for 'talking posh' (I went to a grammar not exactly Waterloo Road, but it was the Thatcher era), and actually now I'm really proud of how I talk. I'm married to a Brummie so gets a bit interesting in our house when we're arguing – him all black country and me all home counties. But variety is the spice of life. Gotta love it all. xx

  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Sorry this was meant to be a bit of a tongue in cheek reply – its not just Sally's post (sorry Sally you were an easy target) but the general anti-poshness I keep coming across, there was a dig about pearl earrings at the school gates a few weeks ago for example

    I guess I am sensitive – I was badly bullied as a child coming from a Berkshire primary into a close to Luton village school for my 'poshness' – I can't change who I am and it surely doesn't matter?

    Or perhaps I should just embrace my poshness and stop worrying!

  • vegemitevix

    >I used to be posh. I kind of miss it really. 🙁

  • planb

    >Tongue in cheek or no, I think you do raise an interesting point.

    Because I do think there is a sort of national inverse snobbery around. I know it when I try not to mention the fact that I was privately educated, or that I have a "family name" as one of my middle names, or that my parents used to live in what Blur would have described as "a very big house in the country". I am, at base, and particularly since I went to university, a little bit ashamed of who I am and where I come from.

    And you're right, why is that? I imagine that a hundred years ago, all the things I am would have been good things. How and when did that change?

  • vegemitevix

    >Oh and I talk posh too…when I'm in NZ, people think I'm English. Not only that but people often ask me to use simpler words…so I'm a double whammy unpopular being – posh and smart. Shit!

  • vegemitevix

    >Sorry to hijack your thread here..but I completely get what Plan B is saying. My family name is v well known in NZ, my father was a very successful businessman, we lived in a large house with seaviews and a games room and a swimming pool in the back yard. I went to the very best private girls school in the country, and proceeded to University at the tender age of 16. I used to try and pretend I wasn't 'posh' at University, but my accent often gave me away. I did strive then, as I do now to treat everyone fairly and to understand their circumstances. It used to annoy me when people had a go at me and other 'posh people'. I remember once a friend's father angrily sneering at all the yachts in the marina, and all that money. All I could see was people's hard work and sacrifice. So yes, in some circles being posh is definately uncool. 🙁 But on the flipside in other circles being cool is even worse than being uncool.

  • Cass@TheDiaryofaFrugalFamily

    >If we were all the same the world would be a very boring place and I for one am looking forward to seeing the photos of you at the Mads in your tiara 😉

    We should all be pround of ourselves – whoever or whatever we are x x

  • It's a Mummys Life

    >Oh and my husband is a terrible inverted snob too! The way we talk should have nothing to do with who we are, sorry you were bullied, I was too and it was merciless and purile. I think this is a good post. Certainly got us thinking! X

  • Heather

    >oh well in that case in shall have to have nowt to do with you then. Bloody posh bird.


  • Anonymous

    >I've been wondering a bit about this myself. I've noticed that it seems perfectly acceptable to say you don't want your child to go to a 'posh' school and be surrounded by 'snobby' people but if you raise concerns that your child is going to a school with a reputation for being a bit 'rough' you can get slated for being such a 'snob' and judging people without knowing them.

  • PantsWithNames

    >I reckon 'posh' is just a label people use to group others. It drives me mad but it is convenient. I have noticed though that if you make an effort to talk to people, no one cares whether you (or they) are posh or not. People who seem aloof are often just shy or not confident enough to start a conversation with you. Within the range of groupings are a massive diversity of individuals, with different viewpoints, attitudes and ways of parenting. To assume everyone is the same would be ridiculous and those that do so lose an opportunity to get to know some really fantastic individuals. So to those who cast aspertions because they think you're 'posh', they're just losing a great opportunity to get to know someone lovely. Same goes for those who wouldn't talk to someone from a council estate.

    PS – I've got a Bugaboo, does that make me posh too? Even though it is on its 3rd baby now and showing the battering that the 2 previous ones have given it. Oo, and we have a golden retriever, so I'm not just posh but a sloane too. Just without the money – dammit!

  • TheMadHouse

    >Erm I thinnk posh means differnt things for different people. I am thought of as Posh back here in the North East, but I shop at Aldi. My old boss was the worst really. He was origionally from near where I grew up but joined the arny after university and had eloclusion lessons, he hated my accent and said I sounded common – which is a terrible accusation

  • Tattie Weasle

    >Ah the olde englishe gayme of Posh Bashing – isn't it a national sport in these PC times? I mean we can no longer have a go at the Welsh, Scots or Irish nor can we be seen to be exclusive thus all we have left is the posh people. Perhaps as a frightfully posh person myself I should instigate a call to arms and get posh people classified as a minority and thus get the protection of the PC wallahs…(Please note this is a just for fun comment and all of the above should only be taken tongue in cheek except of course the bit about me being frightfully posh – I am!)
    Great post!

  • The Contented? Maybe.

    >As TheMadHouse says, everyone's posh scale is different. At one job I was called The Toff as everyone thought I was posh because my parents own a house in France (they bought it with another couple for £2k so it's hardly a chateau). At my next workplace, I was told I sounded like a Cockney and looked less like Paris Hilton than some bloke from the Flock of Seagulls. Can one flit between classes, or is that too Guy Ritchie for most people's liking?

    I do have Hunter wellies and, with a baby due in October, I've ordered a bugaboo, which I assume the staff at l'hovel en France will hose down while I tend to more important matters such as leafing my way through the Boden catalogue while baking organic bread in my Aga.

  • Sally

    >I don't think posh is an insult, because it wouldn't occur to me to think someone's class would be a way to judge them – poor, rich, posh, common – all equally capable of being deeply evil, if they put their minds to it.

    As it happens, I had a Bugaboo. I have granite worktops. And shutters. Hell, I even have a Barbour. Not sure actually any of that is what constitutes 'posh' though – I think it's something less easy to put your finger on. And actually the truly posh people I went to university with (as in titled people or those with hundreds of acres of land and links with royalty) generally have really old, broken down furniture and bad dress sense.

  • Slummysinglemummy

    >I will be at the MADS but I am afraid I will only be talking to people with misspelt tattoos carrying ASDA carrier bags and swearing loudly at their kids.

    (Think I have managed to insult half the population nicely there…)

  • angelica

    >OMG, turns out I'm posh and didn't even know it.

    ok, no Granite worktops, and actually don't like them, but you should see my kitchen, hubs is a cook and that is how we choose what house to rent (we both desperately want an Aga, I take it that counts) –

    Smart beach used for a Boden shoot – most of my family moved to the south of spain, so I can always crash at theirs. South of spain sounds very posh, except when you are from spain (which I am), then it's just geography

    again, I have no idea what Boden is, and kids clothes is probably where I drop completely off, given that I do Zara, H&M and Hema

    Living room – (this is where I kick ass) – wood burning stove -check-, flat screen TV -check- AND wooden floors.

    I've moved house over 20 times, we are *dying* to buy so that we can do it up (thinking Aga) and we are nesters, so we'll spend every penny on it, and then we'll stay in and cook on the Aga while watching DVDs on the flat screen the rest of our lives, so bite me

    I recently moved to holland and met a very nice quirky woman I tried to befriend. she was recently divorced and lived in a small apartment. I invited her over for a play date, and the kids took us on a tour (as in the played and we followed). She never called back. I thought maybe I should have made sure to stick to one room, but then I though "this IS my house" if she won't hang out because of my house, then she is the stuck up, and she's the one with a problem.

  • Hayley

    >posh is a funny one isnt it. I know what you mean, people have been using it as an insult, but likewise they use being "poor" as an insult. My mums parents were "posh" and i was damned proud of that, still am. Grandpa had got to where he was through hard work! Like most "posh" people have. Why do we even require these labels?!

  • Emma

    >Ooo am I posh for wearing Boden? Cool 😀 I hate the way people dictate who we are for the clothes we wear. I love clothes like Boden/Joules but then I love my George/Tesco clothes too! 🙂

  • Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    >See now, I'm from the States and have very little clue as to what you are talking about (though I know what granite counter tops and a Bugaboo are) so it's all a matter of perspective, eh?

    Wearing your pearls at your beach property or not, it's all about who you are inside that counts. If you are genuine and kind, that will shine through and who cares what the "popular" thing to do is right now? It'll all change in a few weeks, anyway!

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