Photographer: Martin Hassid
Do big cities turn us into big brats?
A ‘big city glow up’ is a phrase used to describe the change people go through after moving from a small town to a big city. Well, if there is a change to the better, that is. In my case (due to both hints from my friends and a certain level of self-distance) I’ve started to contemplate whether my personal change has actually been positive or just turned me into an unbearable person, and I’m hoping I’m not alone in this confusion. Channeling the spirits of the city girl Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve actually gone through a big city glow up or if I’ve merely transformed into a city snob*. This text is for me and everyone else who moved to a big city from a small town. Are we all just awful now? Let’s find out.
Coming back to your hometown after having moved to a bigger city makes you realise things. For example that it’s actually terrifying running in to people you know everywhere and quite nice to not wake up from the car horns of big city people with zero patience every morning. But also that having this new perspective makes you ~ a different person ~. Now you’re just so much more urbane, classy, interesting and cultured compared to all of your small town friends, right? Having moved from my tiny Swedish island to the metropole Paris I really couldn’t stop myself from becoming so Parisian chic it shows when I’m walking past the tracksuit moms in my suburban hometown neighbourhood. It just happened! Or, well, I guess this is the moment in which I strongly condemn everything I just wrote, because I obviously don’t think it’s like that (what actually shows anywhere I walk is probably that I left most of my nice clothes and my dignity in my Parisian studio when fleeing lockdown). And if I did, I could never admit it without losing all my friends and the entirety of my sympathetic image (I’d like to think that I have one).
But nevertheless, something has changed, although that something might only be my ego and the addition of a new boastful attitude. At least if I’m to trust my friends… Apparently the words “in Paris” are way too often part of my sentences, because it’s very important to me to point out that I live in Paris. I know, it sounds disgusting, but in my defence that’s where I’ve spent the last six months and I’m – dare I say? – a professional at adding irrelevant details to every story I tell. If I have an anecdote to depict, be sure I will include time, place and what shoes I was wearing – whether it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower or in my Swedish backyard. However, this text was not supposed to be about me defending myself. I’ll have to admit that I probably like talking about Paris more than I should. I mean, I realise because every time I talk somebody says ‘Oh, where was that you said? Paris? Really?’ within 30 seconds. Still, it’s quite cool to live in Paris, isn’t it?
But let me speak for all of us ex small town habitants. Okay no, I’m almost changing my mind just by writing that, I don’t like the group I’m creating and including myself in, and I don’t really want to speak for said group either. What I wanted to conclude was just that is it so bad that we talk a lot about the big cities we live in? That we enjoy rambling about the ‘city life’* (yes, I did spend some time at Urban Dictionary for this text, research is important)? Is it not fun that we can chime in with ‘you know, once in [my big city]…’ no matter what topic we’re talking about? Are we terrible people that nobody can stand just because of that? Well, yes, probably. While I might’ve actually gone through a big city glow up, gained more perspective and all of those corny things I’ve also unfortunately almost transitioned into a city snob, or even worse: somebody who thinks it’s a personality to live in Paris. And I guess the only thing stopping that transition is the teasing from my friends. So much for being self-aware.
In conclusion, I would like to call this a successful intervention with myself. I have identified a city snob behaviour which needs to be stopped! … Or does it? Truth be told, I support people going on and on just a tiny bit too much about their new cities (after all it’s something dear to them!) but I also support their friends calling them brats for it. Thus, the level of city snobbery can remain moderate in people like me. Thank you! Xoxo city girl.
Article by Cornelia Falknäs