Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1980s - The Yuppie

The mid-to-late 1980s spawned a new breed of individual - that of the "Yuppie." Broadly speaking, the term is/was used to describe a young person in a well-paid job who was keen to flaunt his/her success through the display of material goods, pasttimes they engaged in and places where they were seen.

The decade has since been dubbed as something of a "Me! Me! Me!" era where status was desired. "Yuppie," either for "Young Urban Professional," or "Young Upwardly-modile Professional Person In Employment," with a similar meaning coming through from both acronyms.

In 1980, a study by the American Council on Education found that 'college freshmen were more interested in status, power, and money than at any time during the past 15 years. Business Management was the most popular major.' Such results, found in the first year of the eighties, hinted at the growing inclination to "have it all" as the decade progressed. Intense greed was prevalent, with many living a life they could not sustain, living on credit, and eventually falling into debt.

The mobile phone, in its early stages, could only be afforded by the wealthy and were a symbol of firstly, affluency, but also of being able to multi-task, working on the go - buying into that fast-paced lifestyle which was becoming increasingly appealing. Appearing that one had it all, and was also able to do it all was key.

"Power-dressing" (especially among business women) developed with a focus on loud colour, large shoulderpads, and elaborate tailoring in order to, in the immediate, get noticed as outward impressive symbols of success, but also hinted at a emerging mindset that women could be anything they wanted to be. They had choice.

It does seem striking that, for the first time since the 1950s (when the car was the outward sign of wealth), the mobile phone amongst other things were employed to function as overt signals of financial affluence. After the Civil Rights movement and Hippie culture, it was now okay to be wealthy, and even more okay to display it.

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