How Do High WASPs Differ From WASPs?


A shot glass from my mother’s family. It says, “A Thimble Full.” We have to drink a lot of scotch, but with decorum.


How do High WASPs differ from WASPs? Well, WASP is simply an acronym for White. Anglo-Saxon. Protestant. No more, no less.

However, in America, the broad term WASP is often used to mean a smaller, more specifically defined socio-economic group. When the broader term is used to indicate the smaller group, it’s often done metonymically. Yes. Big word for the day. Which I’m actually using incorrectly but let’s pretend. Meaning, using a part to imply the whole. In other words, the word WASP is backed by a list of daily life characteristics, rather than a discussion of the root cause/socio-economic background. By gin and tonics, red pants, and an Ivy League degree, rather than history, anthropology, psychology.

Which drives me nuts. Since my family falls into the smaller category, and I find that the daily life characteristics being bandied about hit the mark just enough for discomfort, and not enough for the relief of being fully found out.

Hence the term High WASP, used here for precision. Defining a smallish group of Americans. After the term came to me, when I was beginning to blog, I looked it up on the Internet. This is the only prior reference I have found. Below is the definition I use. Which I invented, out of whole cloth, and to which we need to attribute no authority whatsoever.

What are the traits of the broader category, the WASPs? I do not know. Perhaps they are too diverse to discuss in generalities. I try to talk only about what I know, or believe. And I try not to believe things about groups of people unless I have terabytes of personal or scientific data.

Let me just say straight out that I understand I tread a difficult line here. Matters of class are deservedly touchy. I think Twnkltwrp** said it best in reponse to Toffegyrl’s post on the Fatshionista LiveJournal forum. When asked if Privilege was a joke, she said she thinks that if it is, it’s one Amid Privilege gets. I hope I get it. I try to. I try very hard to get the joke.

So, leaving aside the question of whether we ought to be talking about all this in the first place, we might ask ourselves, should anyone care about High WASPs? In terms of world affairs and commerce, it’s probably no longer necessary. The day when my ancestors oversaw the political and economic workings of the United States of America have come and gone. As it should be, in the American way. But in the arena of style and taste, possibly, we have left our mark.

The High WASPs, in their heyday, developed a certain aesthetic related to social context. Hence, Privilege. The aesthetic is useful if) you want to hint at the American upper class – even though we rule no longer our style lingers b) your deepest desire is to dress “appropriately” b) you want to emanate power in many work cultures, such as law, finance, and traditional corporations.

The High WASP aesthetic is not homogenous. We allow for individual expression. Hence our style archetypes, the Grande Dame, the Sturdy Gal, the Artsy Cousin. Faux Fuchsia, she of the fabulous frocks and unchipped nail polish, she who in fact Directed Me (as she would say) to define the difference between WASP and High WASP, is apparently the best instantiation of the Australian version of a Grande Dame one could ever wish to see. The aesthetic is neither proprietary nor immutable. Anyone can do it if they like. I say so.

Which leads to the question, which I will lob back to Faux Fuchsia, and to you around the world, do other cultures have their High WASP equivalents? The thing about America is that in a culture where social class is firmly tied to money and achievement, where we replaced titles and aristocracy with welcomed waves of immigrants, our ruling class can, in fact, um, die. Leaving these rules of style and taste with no one left at the head of the cabal. Maybe that’s why I tell the inner secrets now. I mean, who’s left to get me in trouble?

I don’t know how it works, in other countries, and I’d love to find out.

*And now, if I may, I’m going to put my tongue firmly back into my cheek, square my jaw, and carry on.
**Toffegyrl, Twinkltrp, if you are reading, thank you so much for your comments. I would have responded on the forum but was thwarted by LiveJournal and all the signing up requirements.
***For a more wistful version of such folderol, read Tad Friend’s book, Cheerful Money
****The Anonymous Speller did me the enormous favor of pointing out that I misspelled Fuchsia. Apparently it the color was named after the flower named for Herr Doktor Fuchs.

64 Comments

  • 03/22/10
    6:11 am

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    Belle de Ville said...

    England, France, Germany and Switzerland certainly have their High Wasp counterparts.

  • 03/22/10
    7:00 am

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    Delia Lloyd said...

    Over here where the Wasps get their Waspy-ness I'd say it's all about whether or not you have royal blood or not. Which seems so…arcane?…to an American. I just don't get the whole Royal thing. But it's for real and makes a true class distinction between the aristocracy …and everybody else (including those who'd count as high wasp in America).

    thx for posting this – fascinating!

    Delia Lloyd
    http://www.realdelia.com

  • 03/22/10
    8:08 am

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    Lain said...

    As a plain, vanilla WASP (no big money in the past, no Ivy League education), I can state that many of the values, ideas, personality types, etc. do cross over. My parents were the first of either of my family lines to have money, yet I can still recognize frequently parts of my family in your blog. My husband is the first in his family to have money (and with luck, I married into it), but his family also has hints of ideas posted in ALoP. I found you through a fashion link so that resonates most closely (oh, the pearls, Navy Everything, sensible, but quality leather bags, a classic LBD, minimal adornment). But, I can identify with many of your lifestyle and home posts as well.

    I love this blog and through it, have developed a deeper understanding of some of the rules and customs from my family (and my in-laws) that previously made little sense to me.

  • 03/22/10
    9:18 am

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    ~Tessa~Scoffs said...

    Great post. I'm not from a WASP family (Catholic, ya know) – we refer to ourselves as "impoverished nobility." My family tree is scattered with the odd Senator from the South, a few signers of the Dec. of Ind., and last but not least, several blaggards from the IRB.

  • 03/22/10
    9:35 am

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    Jan said...

    Hmmm, well, paternally I guess I qualify as a High WASP (depending on just how old – and how conservative – you are, my birth name, Smoot, may mean something to you). Beloved definitely is a High WASP.

    Strange, though, because I don't consider myself one – I suppose I'm far too attached to my blue-collar-turned-upper-middle-class maternal family.

  • 03/22/10
    9:57 am

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    JMW said...

    Your posts always make me smile. :)

    I was just going to recommend Tad Friend's Cheerful Money and then I came upon your final line. :) I don't fall into any of these categories – I'm from Irish/German Catholic stock (and quite proud of it, I must say.)

  • 03/22/10
    10:32 am

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    Genteel Decal said...

    Aha! This makes sense, and answers the question my mind had only half formed.

    Cordially,
    High WASP, Southern Variant

  • 03/22/10
    11:21 am

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    LPC said...

    There's always a triumvirate, where we came from, who we feel ourselves to be, and how we feel about all of the above. It would be wonderful to have everyone feel benign and inclusive pride.

  • 03/22/10
    12:12 pm

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    Gourmetmom said...

    My husband was astonished a few years ago when an employee with a well-known name and high WASP pedigree came to him to ask for a salary advance. Seems he needed to pay his annual club membership and he loathed being the one to let it lapse after so many generations, even though he could no longer afford it. My husband was happy to give him the loan, but he didn't miss the irony that now he's the boss with the Ivy League degree, even though the last generation of his family lived without plumbing in a tiny Italian hamlet.

    By the way, I have an almost identical shot glass. Mine says, "Only a thimbleful" and I noticed that it desperately needs polishing…

  • 03/22/10
    12:27 pm

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    Anna said...

    Even Finland has some sort of WASP counterpart. We were ruled by the Swedes for 500 years, before the Russians took us for 100 years. Now we've been independent for about 100 years. Those old, Swedish families who once immigrated, were often either merchants or people from noble upbringing. Hence, our conservative upperclass still has much of Swedish descent, which can be noticed in language (Swedish), upbringing (either urban elite or old mansions), clothes (preppy/British), education (high), and way of life (light, positive attitude). Although things have never been as glamorous here as they once were in America.

  • 03/22/10
    12:37 pm

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    Patsy said...

    Jan – I know that a smoot measures 5'7" at MIT.

  • 03/22/10
    12:37 pm

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    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Funny, I'm Irish Catholic descent, but so much of how you describe your traditions rings true for me. I credit this to my maternal great grandmother. Things really do stick and get passed downin families, even several generations later. Kind of cool. I married a plain, not High, WASP, but my family is much more so than his…

  • 03/22/10
    12:50 pm

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    Anonymous said...

    You definitely see it in Australia – the "old money" families. Sydney in particular.

  • 03/22/10
    1:02 pm

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    LPC said...

    Man, I'm thrilled to find that the description of my family resonates for people from other backgrounds. One thing about coming from a privileged background is that you don't want to talk about it. (So what am I doing here, but that's another question…) And in not talking about it, I think the idea that it was somehow tied to privilege gets reinforced. Clearly incorrectly. I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

  • 03/22/10
    2:00 pm

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    Anonymous said...

    Tessa –

    A White Anglo Saxon Papist is still a WASP.

  • 03/22/10
    3:02 pm

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    Paula said...

    Privilege – means the golden spoon in your mouth as a baby.
    And what happened afterwards?

    Do you live your live or do you focus on staying in the place someone else before meant for you to be?
    When you write your sister tells you Vuitton isn't a brand a WASP should wear, it did not seem ironic. It seemed as if you felt a bit of guilt and shame. As if you planned on wearing a crazy-pattern-dress.
    "allow", "we" … is it just me who reads this need of conformity inbetween the lines?
    Is it all about being and at least feeling safe?

    OF COURSE WASP means more than just the 4 words. Such as DINKS means more than Double Income No Kids and Yuppie always stood for much more than just "Young Urban Professional".
    Anyone neglecting this must be very blind on both eyes.

    If it comforts you to know yourself being a WASP, fine!

    I need my hobbies, you might need your class. Otherwise I would see no point in labeling the blog the way you did. I miss the irony and the humour to be sure you mean the words in an ironic sense. When you write what works and what does not work for a WASP, it seems as if you apply those rules to your life.

    Maybe it is easier for us in Europa – we have had the wool-mills since medivial age which turned later into Zegna & others.
    We know it has been there and it will stay there.

    Please excuse mistakes, I am not native english.

  • 03/22/10
    3:10 pm

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    LPC said...

    Anon, ha! Paula, I think I try to live my life anew, and am always facing the structures I was brought up with. Both are true. I did feel like I SHOULD feel bad about the LV. These things are complex. I hope that you miss the irony and humor in part because of the native language thing, but, on the other hand, it's quite possible that I am not as funny and ironic as I think I am:). It has been known to happen.

  • 03/22/10
    4:38 pm

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    EntertainingMom said...

    the definition of High WASP applies to my family… only they're Jewish… again, the similarities, background, etc uncanny… We have discussed this… Do High WASP follow more traditional European upbringings? I suppose I came from pedigree… jewelers and silversmiths revered in London. I have my great great grandmother's Birth Certificate. I am named after her. She came to the states to marry her husband. Her granddaughter, La Jolie Grandmere was greatly influenced by her, as I am by my grandmother. So am I high WASJ???

  • 03/22/10
    5:05 pm

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    DocP said...

    Interesting questions for a sociologist. I would have said High WASP is the intersection of a certain culture, class and wealth. In terms of your blog, the irony is certainly there but perhaps only well understood by those of the same background or who have lived with/spent significant time with High WASPs.

    Other countries and cultures have an elite as well. Are the similarities across nations greater than the differences?

  • 03/22/10
    5:15 pm

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    Faux Fuchsia said...

    Hi LPC thanks for this post which made me laugh.

    Australia is such a new society but we definitely have our own High WASP equivilants.

    I was going to post that I am not a WASP given that I'm Catholic and all but then I saw that someone (Ms Anon) had commented to Tessa above that a White Anglo Papist is still a WASP so maybe I am. Which is confusing me because I thought the Protestant Arm was Key.

    Anyway, I'm going to have a little think and do a post in reply- loving your blog and love reading all the comments (always fascinating).

  • 03/22/10
    6:07 pm

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    Mardel said...

    I think there is irony and humor here, although perhaps this is true seen through lens colored by similarities in backgrounds. Much of what you write resonates although I would consider myself firmly entrenched in the post-WASP milieu. I have learned to view with humor my WASPish tendencies and inclinations, sometimes amazed at what remains, despite a rather dogged attempt to escape in my 20's. Admittedly my upbringing did help me immensely in figuring out the "rules" of corporate culture in my 30s and 40s.

    My own family is WASP and would fit your "high WASP" definition. However in our case the family fortune was made and lost quite a few generations past, and at a fairly tender age I began to strain against the weight of history and family. Perhaps this was as much a Southern thing as a WASP thing. But the family is there, and the big money, the signers of the Dec. of Ind., a few brushes with royalty, generals on both sides of the War between the States, the odd horse thief, and the infiltration of German and Scots-Irish blood, mostly post-ascension, have left their mark I suppose.

    As for other cultures, I suppose they have their equivalent cadres. I noted long ago, when I met my spouse, how similar our outlooks and expectations on life were, me with my WASP mindset and he with his pre-war High Viennese Jewish upbringing. Not the same true, but similarities were stronger than I had expected.

  • 03/22/10
    6:19 pm

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    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    LPC
    Fascinating post.

    I'm following on from FF's insights.

    Australia is a young country and a diverse number of cultures were present at the birth of our nation. I won't get overly political here but suffice to say that as least on culture has gone on to experience centuries of disadvantage and reduced life expectancy whilst most others have experienced significant advances in life, health and wealth.

    I think the concept of WASP in the Australian concept is an interesting one. There is a sense that most of us in Australia try to be inclusive of each other, to find the commonality between our culture and our neighbours, to appreciate the differences or to agree to disagree if need be.

    To me, there are lots of parallel WASP sub cultures in Australia. Each ethnic group has a set of ideals that they have brought with them 'from home'. There are 'ideals' that each still aspires to in Australia.

    I don't know if 'ideals' are the same as the 'established traditions and behaviours' that define WASP and high WASP.

    From the Chinese perspective, education and 'a good marriage' are a high priority. The signs of wealth (suburb of residence, school that the children went to, make of European car) all seem to have been tacked on as Western influence came into the equation as many of our parents were 'Western' educated in Asia and then migrated to other countries such as Aistralia.

    The signs of wealth issue is a divided one. Older generations place great stock in the suburb, car and childrens' school criteria. It's only the children themselves that seem to be embracing the more fleeting status symbols in large numbers.

    I hope this helps / provides an interesting perspective.

    SSG xxx

  • 03/22/10
    7:48 pm

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    The Daily Connoisseur said...

    Thank you for clearing this up. I am not a WASP, nor is my family so I truly had no idea :) My husband is from England and I suppose if they had WASPS over there, he would be one of them. It's all very different across the pond, however, I learn more each time I visit!

  • 03/22/10
    8:06 pm

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    SewingLibrarian said...

    Smoot, Smoot….I'm thinking Smoot-Hawley Tariff?? BTW, I'm not a High Wasp, just a plain old Wasp. Love to read your blog.

  • 03/23/10
    1:19 am

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    Anonymous said...

    Yes, WASP's exist in Australia. It is however, fairly low key as we are a young country, and there are many who think that making money from the last 50 years gives class.

    The "real" WASPs arrived early, established large cattle and sheep stations and farms (they were called Squatters, and were also know as the "Squattocracy" and were granted large land holdings by Government), and were generally of British upper/middle class descent (younger sons of aristocracy who weren't due to inherit). They were also Protestant, and clung to the manners and class aspirations they were born with in England.

    Todays WASPs are lower profile – signet rings on pinky fingers with family crests, memberships to ladies and gentlemen's clubs in the cities, family furniture and silver brought out by their ancestors and passed down etc etc. The divide is subtle – it's who you know, who you were born to, and farming families still have a lot of cachet (as they still often have the original family properties).

  • 03/23/10
    1:53 am

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    Faux Fuchsia said...

    I have just done a response to this post, go and look.

    I have been wondering all day if a. I am a WASP and b. where my ideas of style and taste come from.

    When Australians go to London for the 1st time they are always shocked at how there is a real class system over there.

    My sisters and I went to boarding school, as did Mr FF. Is that considered fancy pants or deadset normal in America?

  • 03/23/10
    2:19 am

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    Paula said...

    Dear LPC, thank you for also publishing my harsh posting! Maybe it is me who lacks humour and irony. well, well …

    For sure the topic triggers something inside me. I will stay tuned.

    btw: today, first time ever in 37 years, wearing HUGE silver creoles in my ears. with the image of J.Lo on my mind I feel silly and funny. A woman with my background (diamond-studs) is not meant to have fun with fashion? and just PLAY?

    you see, more than you and me might imagine we are hooked on paradigms.

    today I like to play :-)

  • 03/23/10
    2:47 am

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    Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

    Fascinating discussion. There is definitely a subset of Australia who would be the High Wasp. They tend in Melbourne to live in the suburbs of Toorak, South Yarra, Malvern and Armadale. It's all about keeping up appearances.

  • 03/23/10
    5:32 am

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    LENORENEVERMORE said...

    Interesting…I must say I learn new things everyday~ thanks*

  • 03/23/10
    6:10 am

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    DocP said...

    LPC, please help me out with this. Imogen, "keeping up appearances", at least in the US, is largely a middle class value. Paul Fussell's 1992 book, "Class – a Guide through the American Status System" discusses this in detail. I believe for high WASP families it is more about living up to expectations and one's family status – a slightly different issue. Not so much about caring what the neighbors think and more about not letting down our family/culture/various institutions.

  • 03/23/10
    6:55 am

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    Paula said...

    finally started to google, "WASP style".
    what I found:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTU2He2BIc0
    Tea Partay

    :-)

  • 03/23/10
    7:31 am

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    Anonymous said...

    Class distinctions occur in all societies and isn't the WASP label simply just that – a class distinction?

  • 03/23/10
    7:38 am

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    Anonymous said...

    Other cultures certainly have their own signals of affluence, whether it is owning plentiful cows (Somalia), gold bracelets (India)or LV everything (Russia).
    Maybe what particularly distinguishes WASP culture is just how definitive it is. Jews, blacks, Asians need not apply. Obama with his Ivy League education and sphere of influence cannot be a WASP.
    In other cultures, becoming part of the elite class can often just be a matter of acquiring wealth. Education, family background, religion are less of an issue.

  • 03/23/10
    7:40 am

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    Anonymous said...

    I suppose that is key to what is offensive regarding WASP culture – it is so closed.

  • 03/23/10
    8:05 am

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    LPC said...

    Thank you all so much for being wiling to have this discussion. I find Australia fascinating. And the Chinese culture, at least in its Chinese-American version, I'm very very familiar with. Much of what I write here comes from long conversations with my Chinese American colleagues. They were my first experience with a willingness to discuss, and laugh, about class matters in the US.

    However, DocP is right, one of the hallmarks of the American High WASP is trying very hard NOT to appear to be keeping up with the neighbors. The code of conduct is all about not showing off, about doing a good job, about keeping the social context. Not about looking good. The visible artifacts only became important once the group was ensconced at the top and wanted to stay there. The code of conduct, particularly delayed gratification, was one of the engines of HOW they got there to begin with.

    Anonymous, funny you would bring up Obama. My sister and I, as I began this blog, were saying that Obama is more of a High WASP, in many ways, what with the Ivy League degree and the belief in service, than many others who can claim the acronym. I would really reexamine your belief that High WASP culture, as it exists today, is closed. That's no longer true. Maybe that's my most heartfelt point. The Ivy League is open to all, Silicon Valley has made all kinds of ethnicities rich, it's America, after all. And many of us who share this background are actually Democrats. Liberal Democrats. Gasp. Particularly in the coastal regions:).

    Paula, exactly. This is the caricature that drives me nuts. It's like having your culture stolen, and mocked, just well enough to hit home but not well enough to free you from stereotype:).

  • 03/23/10
    8:16 am

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    Anonymous said...

    Have you read this article:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/style/features/2009/04/noel200904

    The description of CT society made me flinch, it certainly portrayed WASP culture as closed.

  • 03/23/10
    8:17 am

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    Anonymous said...

    WASP culture is just upper class British culture moved to another continent isn't it?

  • 03/23/10
    8:27 am

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    LPC said...

    Anon, I can't speak to WASP culture overall. For my little segment, that I've called High WASP, there's a lot of British influence, no question. Scottish in fact, in my family. But those who came to the US were not the aristocracy. We were cheesemakers. We were real keen on setting up a meritocracy, whether we succeeded or not, since otherwise we were completely out of luck and land. And there's no question but that the people in the Vanity Fair article make far juicier reading than the family I know.

  • 03/23/10
    8:37 am

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    Lynn Teague said...

    Well, no, WASP culture is not just upper class British culture moved to another continent, at least historically. To the English, the part about being moved to another continent was not a trivial aspect of social class. An origin in North America led to an indelible label of "colonial." Even William Byrd, one of the best educated (in England) and wealthiest of early Virginians, was not someone whom an upper class Englishman would have wanted his sister to marry. WASPs (high or otherwise) marrying into the English aristocracy in significant numbers awaited the 19th century problem of English heirs finding enough money to keep the old family castle going, a problem that could sometimes be solved by a convenient marriage to a railroad or other industrial heiress from the ex-colonies.

  • 03/23/10
    9:12 am

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    Anonymous said...

    "Obama is more of a High WASP, in many ways, what with the Ivy League degree and the belief in service, than many others who can claim the acronym" – I certainly agree he has all the trappings, but is he accepted as a WASP by WASPs? Can he claim the title since he has the trappings? (though he is missing the right family background)
    "The Ivy League is open to all, Silicon Valley has made all kinds of ethnicities rich, it's America, after all." Yes, but achieving an Ivy League education and wealth do not a WASP make, right? It's much nuanced than just wealth and education.
    LPC, terrific conversation, well done for taking on this sticky topic. :)

  • 03/23/10
    11:00 am

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    Meg said...

    Sign me up for that definition. But can we add, "And has the stuff to prove it?" In my experience long after the fortune is lost, high WASPS cling to the relics. The silver engraved relics. I'd mock, but I have one in my bathroom right now serving as my tooth glass. My 100 year old silver tooth glass. I'm allowed to have that one because it's *only* 100 years old. And it has my name on it, followed by the numeral 6.

    Yet there is no serious money, any where to be found. (though there was a engraved silver spoon and rattle, both very old when I was born).

  • 03/23/10
    11:12 am

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    LPC said...

    Lynn, True. Interesting. Thank you for bringing it up. Anon – I would argue that to a certain extent education has replaced family background as the status item most valued by High WASPs. And, as Meg says, that pesky silver stuff…

  • 03/23/10
    2:33 pm

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    Tish Jett said...

    No, we have something even better, the aristocracy, also fallen from their former position of power, but never privilege. They will be the first ones to tell you. They also can give you the exact date on which, if a title was bestowed, theirs is more "authentic" than say any ridiculous princess or duke give the cadeau of appreciation from Napoleon.

    We have one friend, a count, who likes to point out his title goes back to the 14th century. Now that's serious lineage. . .

    It's all very complicated, but the accoutrements still decorating their Paris apartments and/or chateaux are lovely as one can imagine.

  • 03/23/10
    3:54 pm

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    Sher said...

    I first want to say the I enjoy finally "meeting" you in your profile picture :)

    I enjoy reading your blog, not because of any classification. Quite honestly I have to admit I never heard of the term WASP or high WASP till I read your blog. I enjoy reading about your trips you took and past experiences. I find we all have the same feelings of uncertainties or doubts as we grew up no matter what "class" we are. The same challenges as parents now etc.

  • 03/23/10
    5:54 pm

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    QueenBeeSwain said...

    when are the book coming out and the CNBC appearance happening, because I will need to know! always love your posts and your train of logic and want to just swim around in your mind and all that isn't published as well!

    and if you want to get down to broad range WASPs, most Appalachian hillbillies are technically WASPs by blood, if ever you need a comparrison!

    kHm

  • 03/23/10
    5:57 pm

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    Deja Pseu said...

    First, let me say thank you, LPC, for opening up this discussion. I think class is a very sticky subject, especially for those of us who like to believe we live in classless societies. It isn't always easy to talk about.

    So much of this resonates. My family was High-WASP-aspirational. Gin+tonics, ancient family silver (monogrammed), the work ethic, the desire to always be "appropriate" (and the attendant anxiety about such). My dad's side of the family was also very fat-phobic, associating larger bodies with lower classes, and also had a disdain for any expression of hunger. My dad was the last Ivy Leaguer in the family…divorce and diminished finances meant state schools for my sister and me.

    I still have the silver, though I've managed to work through a lot of the food hangups. The work ethic has served me well. I find some aspects of the High WASP aesthetic comforting, even when I don't adopt for myself.

    Thanks again for a great post and providing the space for such an engaging discussion!

  • 03/23/10
    7:11 pm

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    CDS said...

    Tagged you on something fun tonight! :)

  • 03/23/10
    8:07 pm

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    SLynnRo said...

    Hmmm. Interesting.

  • 03/23/10
    8:32 pm

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    Worthington said...

    Always happy to hear eloquent clarification from a fellow High WASP !

  • 03/23/10
    10:05 pm

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    Faux Fuchsia said...

    L, this post has generated a lot of comments! You need to visit Australia. You'd like it I think.

  • 03/25/10
    11:53 am

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    Anonymous said...

    Interesting topic. What intrigues me about WASPs is how in some respects they acknowledge their diminished role in American life, but are not struggling to hold onto that status. I grew up on Long Island in an Indian immigrant household, surround mostly by Italian Catholics, along with Irish Catholics and a couple of Jewish families. Indians are obsessed with family background, and keeping note of who are one's social betters. But the term "WASP" was never discussed in our home. We just had no experience with such people. Indeed, it was something I only read about in history books or F. Scott Fitzgerald novels.

    While it can be said that many American were white and Protestant, how many can claim to be Anglo-Saxon? I don't think I have actually met someone who fits the definition of a WASP – both in terms of ethnicity and social standing. In terms of media exposure, the only real-life person who admits to being a WASP in good standing is Anderson Cooper of CNN, who joked on the Ellen Show when he did not dance, "WASPs don't dance."

    I've also associated WASP with being very regional in nature. Specifically, the NorthEast and the Midwest. Yes, the South had its share of prominent families, both before and after the Civil War. But such families do not strike me as part of the WASP story.

  • 03/25/10
    11:55 am

    Reply

    Anonymous said...

    oops, forgot to sign the previous comment – the guy who grew up on Long Island.

    - KXB

  • 03/25/10
    8:47 pm

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    oh2bnMT said...

    I love your blog. It takes me home to Dixie. Thank you for writing.

  • 03/26/10
    7:08 am

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    LPC said...

    Anon, the intricacies of Indian family relationships always amazes even me. How astonishing that you feel you've never even met a WASP. I love America… Anon, You're welcome:). My pleasure.

  • 03/26/10
    8:37 am

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    Anonymous said...

    To the Long Islander from a fellow Long Islander – I am a WASP but wouldn't tell you. Not only would I not point out our differences, but WASPness isn't important to me. I am the 1st working female in my family, and have come to realize my sister, cousins who think work is beneath them are justifying living off other people. Where is the nobility in that?

  • 03/27/10
    11:07 am

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    Jill said...

    I go out of town for a couple of days and miss so much! Very introspective post which you handle very graciously.

  • 03/27/10
    12:02 pm

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    Bumby Scott said...

    Well done my friend.

    Always Bumby

  • 03/28/10
    7:47 am

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    MegsDad said...

    I have felt since the first time I read your blog that the phrase High Wasp was meant to resonate with the term High Church. Since every High Wasp with Old Money (HWOM; be careful of the unaspirated H) I have ever met was Episcopalian — Anglican to you Anglophiles — I had assumed this was a gentle inside joke among true High Wasps. ;)

  • 03/29/10
    6:26 am

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    LPC said...

    MegsDad, absolutely Anglican. Probably the term High WASP then came to me from my deep unconscious. If we are allowed to have an unconscious, that is….

  • 03/30/10
    12:31 am

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    Marcela said...

    I am late to comment on this post-very late!- but thought about dropping a word anyway. Such an interesting post.
    The equivalent to a High Wasp in Argentina would look pretty much like Maxima Zorreguieta-the argentinian-born princess of Holland: tall, blonde (either natural or bottle), straight hair, educated in English schools, owning a ranch, knowing how to ride a horse, dressing very classically with a certain "I just came from my estancia" allure (straight caquis, leather belt with either her initials or the family coat of arms), button-down shirt, silk carré around her neck, leather/carpincho/nobuk jacket or a simple blazer, and flats) definitely with a degree from a top university from the US or Europe, well travelled, and speaking 2/3 foreign languages (generally English and French/German, depending on each person's origins). And her family would date from colonial times, possibly with a few ancestors in Government during the XIX century.

  • 03/30/10
    12:33 am

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    Marcela said...

    Oh, I forgot, they would of course be catholic!

  • 04/03/10
    3:07 pm

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    50sgal said...

    By your definition, I am definitely a "High WASP", family been here forever, 'came over with the bricks' some might say. Had and lost fortunes. Would have looked curiously at 'merchant money' as the Industrial Revolution took hold. Oh, and red pants, to me at least, are nantucket reds, but that might be geographical. Interesting blog.

  • 06/14/10
    5:30 pm

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    Ameriscott said...

    I would call myself a moderately WASPY American who is currently living in the Scottish highlands (by marriage). I am always fascinated by the way class permeates everything in the UK. To my American mind, to place SO much emphasis on class seems a bit outdated and no longer relative to the world we live in. I consider class more of a matter of personal heritage, and the lifestyle choices, decisions, and feelings of pride or safety one takes in that. Purely from a fashion standpoint, I have grown more and more fond of classic American style as I stay here longer and longer, as I find that there is a fussiness, coupled with a certain "holes in the jumper, worn-out trousers" quality to the British upper classes of "Toffs" as they are called, short for "toffee mouthed") That just doesn't resonate with my Americanness. Sure, we all live a good pair of Welly boots, but I will stick to my Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, leave my head bare at weddings, rebuff my hairdresser's constant attacks with the flattening iron, and throw away my jumpers..er…sweaters when they are full of holes.

  • 06/14/10
    6:28 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Ameriscott – I think one of the best parts of living in another country is the honing of one's native culture that happens. And thanks for explaining that word, Toff. Never knew where it came from.

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