“Quiet luxury,” “how to marry rich,” “stay-at-home girlfriend,” “how to be a high-value woman and attract a high-value man,” “where to find a rich man,” “what to wear to attract a rich man”—this is just a short list of some of the top topics currently dominating conversations on TikTok. And they all seem to have one pattern in common: they all normalise and promote financial dependency on one’s partner.
If just like me, you spend a little too much time on the internet, you might have seen Sofia Richie’s recent extravagant wedding in the South of France. More specifically, you might have picked up on the slightly odd discourse surrounding it on TikTok, with countless users analysing how the nepotism baby “married rich.” Let me explain.
Basically, Sofia Richie Grainge, model, social media personality, Lionel Richie’s daughter, and The Simple Life’s Nicole Richie’s younger sister, recently married Elliot Grainge, a record executive with an alleged net worth of $10 million.
Like with many celebrity weddings, the internet was obsessed for days afterwards—but unlike most weddings where two already famous and established people come together, this one brought a really peculiar trend online.
Essentially, people were claiming that Richie Grainge is the one who married rich, making her the face of ‘levelling up’ through marriage, and analysing how if she was able to do this, then so can you. All while completely ignoring the fact that she herself comes from excessive wealth. It wasn’t as though the girl was particularly struggling through life.
A specific format currently taking the platform by storm sees users make picture montages of Richie Grainge to ABBA’s ‘Money Money Money’, first showing older photos of her in former relationships with people such as Scott Disick or Justin Bieber, and suddenly switching to more recent photos of her wearing high-end luxury, on boats, and photos of the 24-year-old with her now-husband.
Another easy-to-identify pattern in these videos is that often the ‘after’ photos of Richie Grainge are ones where she appears to be dressed slightly more modestly or more conservatively. And as you’ve probably guessed already, this is not coincidental.
“I’m not surprised that Sofia Richie changed her style, and bagged a millionaire immediately,” says TikTok creator @specsandblazers, also known as Niké. “I will always say: conservative dressing, not showing skin, is the fastest way to pull a wealthy man. The more money a man makes, the more he wants you to cover up. Now, you don’t have to do it, you don’t have to cover up, if you don’t want to. Just know, it goes hand in hand,” she continues in the video below:
“Behind every successful man, is a woman standing right behind him—there is a certain look you have to have to get into those circles. Ladies, you want to bag a rich man, put some clothes on. It’s that simple,” concludes the content creator. And there are hundreds of videos sharing a similar opinion:
It should be noted however that while many users are applauding Richie Grainge’s style evolution and going as far as to credit her for making modest fashion ‘trendy’, they’re completely ignoring the fact that modest fashion has been around forever, particularly maintained and innovated by women of colour, Muslim women, and women of other religious backgrounds.
Now, it absolutely goes without saying that you can, and should dress however you wish to dress, be it modest or not. But simply putting on a different outfit will not suddenly grant you access to a different social circle. In the case of Richie Grainge, she did not marry into wealth, but was surrounded by it from birth. She spent her life among a similar social circle her husband is from, and thus, met someone of a similar financial background as her.
So, to tell women on the internet that they can achieve the same by simply dressing differently is setting most of them up for failure—not to mention the serious condescension.
Either way, what is up with this obsession of finding rich men to date or marry on TikTok? Or of finding ways to enter wealth through associating yourself with quiet luxury? There is a whole plethora of content on the video-sharing platform advising straight women on the things they need to do in order to bag a rich man (also commonly referred to as “high-value men”). The FYP is full to the brim with ideas on places they should go to, things they should wear, and even careers that they should pursue.
Along with this, we are also seeing a rise of stay-at-home girlfriend content on the platform. Most videos are presented as fun, aspirational and leisurely. Typically, young women show their daily lives as they cook and do chores, go through their beauty routine, work out, and take care of their boyfriends by being homemakers. In return, their boyfriends go out and work in order to financially support them both.
It is important to note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with women choosing to be homemakers, if that is what they want. There is also nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your partner. But the issue here is that these videos normalise and romanticise full financial dependence on one’s partner, without actually talking about the risks or precautions these creators may have taken themselves. And on a platform with so many young and impressionable users, that can prove to be immensely damaging.
Now, let’s face it: we are in a cost of living crisis, we’re entering another recession, and things feel pretty bleak. With the rising costs of everything, numerous people are struggling to make ends meet. For many women, seeking and finding wealthy men is an escape from capitalism, an escape from burnout, and so many other things that come with this.
I myself have definitely scrolled on TikTok while on an overcrowded commute to the office, and stumbled across videos of stay-at-home girlfriends or other women talking about how fun and “easy” their lives are since marrying rich, and thought to myself ‘This must be nice.’ But is our only antidote to the stresses of living under capitalism and the current economic turmoil to just fully give up our financial independence, and hand it over to someone else?
Feminism is, and always has been about choice. It’s about giving women the choice to decide whether they wish to work, stay at home, marry or not, and so forth. Personally, I don’t believe that there is anything inherently wrong with women (or men, for that matter) wanting to stay at home and be taken care of. If you are afforded the privilege of not having to work, and you genuinely don’t want to, then why not?
But the problem with the way in which TikTok is promoting these lifestyles is that none of the videos actually touch on the risks associated with giving up your financial independence. Everybody talks about how to marry rich and quit your job, or how to find men who will afford you the privilege to be a stay-at-home girlfriend. But what about the things you should do if you are successful in your pursuit, in order to ensure your own financial safety and stability? What about what happens in the event a relationship ends or something goes terribly wrong, but you have no income and have solely relied on your partner?
Nobody (and by nobody, I specifically mean the creators making this content in the first place) speaks about prenuptial marriage agreements which decide what happens to a couple’s financial situation and assets in the event of divorce, infidelity, death, etc.
Nobody speaks about agreements couples make in the event that one of them wants to become a stay-at-home parent and give up work. Being a stay-at-home parent is an entire job of its own, but is it always fairly compensated? Is it viewed as legitimate work by our society? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Nobody speaks about financial abuse, and about how difficult it is for people to leave an abusive situation without having the funds to do so. There are so many issues that come with giving up your independence.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy here—there is nothing romantic about contracts, or conversations about the more mundane and boring parts of life, but these are so essential. If you want to be a stay-at-home partner, or if you want to never have to work a day in your life again, and you are in a position to do so because of your partner, that’s great. But make sure to reach an agreement where your financial stability and safety is never compromised should something happen.