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I Might Be 'Established Middle-Class', But Don't Think You Know Me

I live in a big house with my husband and two kids. I turn up at school most days in lycra pants and sneakers, and, in cold weather, a sleeveless puffy jacket. I like lattes and green smoothies and chia seeds. But before you pigeonhole me as a posh, trend-following, Lorna-Jane-wearing yummy mummy, read on.

According to research by the ANU, there are five social classes in Australia. I did the official questionnaire, and it turns out that I am a member of the "established middle". Because I know an electrician. And don't go to the opera.

But the survey only had five questions. Why isn't my occupation important? What about my education level? And surely the way I pronounce "dance" is relevant. So I wonder: what am I really, and where do I fit into society?

My life currently looks a bit like this: I live in a big house with my husband and two kids. I turn up at school most days in lycra pants and sneakers, and, in cold weather, a sleeveless puffy jacket. I like lattes and green smoothies and chia seeds. I'm in a book club. I was a stay-at-home mother for eight years but now work part-time. I have a bachelor degree and am considering doing my masters.

But before you pigeonhole me as a posh, trend-following, Lorna-Jane-wearing yummy mummy, read on.

My wardrobe is full of hand-me-downs and op-shop finds (except the lycra pants, which I bought from Target). The only make-up I own is mascara and eye shadow. The only toiletries I use are soap, shampoo and deodorant. I do my own waxing, trim my own hair and occasionally get a free massage from my husband. I've never had a spray-tan, pedicure, manicure or blow-dry.

Ah, see -- not yummy at all. But wait, there's more:

My husband is a shearer. I drive a 2006 Toyota Corolla sedan (bought second-hand for $9000). I love instant coffee. My hair is its natural colour (dark brown with grey bits). I'm an atheist. Sometimes I vote for the Greens.

Hang on -- are you beginning to think that I'm a tightarse lefty now? Then consider this:

I like going out to wine bars with other middle-aged ladies. I'm friends with an obstetrician and an anaesthetist. I'm planning a house extension.

But:

All red wine tastes the same to me. I don't have private health insurance. I like listening to Taylor Swift. I read NW in the queue at the supermarket.

Right. So -- what category have you decided to put me in? Sometimes I look like I might be an affluent, conservative mumil; then again, I could be a middle-class, frugal, left-wing hippie.

Perhaps I should give you some back story:

When I was born my dad was unemployed. Mum had to make baby clothes out of old t-shirts. Dad furnished our rented flat with tip finds and things he made. We didn't go to a hairdresser for trims -- Mum did them. We didn't take our car to a mechanic for servicing -- that was Dad's job. I recently read one of my first letters to Santa. It said, "For Christmas I would like six pipe cleaners." By the time the 1991 recession hit we had our own house, but three-quarters of my parents' income went straight towards the mortgage -- thanks, 17 percent interest rate.

Are you thinking "working-class roots" now? Okay, but these factors might affect your final verdict:

I didn't go to a private school. I sent my four-year old daughter to ballet lessons. I love The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't own a beach house. I like going to galleries, and have a big art collection. I don't wear jewellery. I hardly ever use public transport. I don't give much money to charity. I'm vegetarian. I dislike animals. I don't use social media. I'm not into footy or cricket. I'd like an investment property. I haven't paid off my HELP debt.

Well -- what do you reckon? Can you categorise me? It's easy to judge people when you don't know much about them; I do it all the time. But nobody deserves to be instantly pigeonholed. While I might be "established middle" in many ways, I'm also a real person. So if you see me in my lycra pants, don't go making assumptions; I wear other pants, too.

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