The end to the golden era of consumption and ostentatious wealth was precipitated by the yuppies’ own extravagance. Eager to taste all the joys of life while still young, the yuppies were committed to spending, often beyond their incomes. As a result, many yuppies had to take on debt. Their high debt levels were sustainable in a high-salary environment of the 1980s; however, the changing economic conditions put the recently affluent couples in a tough position. The stock market crash of 1987 led to a serious downturn in the economy, triggering layoffs on Wall Street and elsewhere.
Many were affected by layoffs in the financial services and other areas. Some had to see their enviable compensation packages trimmed in the wake of a general downturn. The new hardships forced many to default on credit card payments, leading to “yuppie bill syndrome”, a term coiled by the financial industry. As a result, “yuppie pawnshops” appeared, strangely chic places that accepted the status playthings accumulated by the yuppies in their previous wealthy lives. Another term was coined to denote the change from upscale clothing to a more affordable jeans and T-shirt lifestyle – “downscale chic”.
Another string of new terms appeared, evidencing the media’s love of abbreviations and their response to the changing environment for young professionals. The word yuppie came to be deciphered as “young unhappy professionals” instead of previous “upwardly mobile”. To contrast with this idea, the word combination “downwardly mobile professionals,” or abbreviated ‘domos’ appeared. Recent career-makers responded to the challenge of an economic depression in various ways. Some preferred to leave the rat race by fleeing to more peaceful environments, such as, for instance, Montana that attracted many recent yuppies.
Others redefined their values and priorities, shifting to a forgotten life for ideals. They started working on social projects or environmental endeavors. The novels The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Getting a Life by Jacqueline Blix reflect this change of values. Conclusion Yuppies were an influential phenomenon of the 1980s, brought to life by a change in income levels and demographic composition of the upper classes. They were young professional people with sizeable incomes, determined to pursuit of life’s pleasures right here and now.
Yuppies were often criticised for a consumerist attitude. On the social plane, this attitude gave a boost to the entertainment and upscale goods industry, creating a new subculture evidenced in new fashion trends, a new pattern of life. Yuppies were the first users of technological advances like cell phones and eager consumers of chic things. Their affluent lifestyle provoked the anger of many, but to these days it remains also a role model for career-minded young people. Overall, yuppies were one of the most important groups in the history of 20th-century youth culture.
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