A TikTok about using EBT for a meal at a pricey Los Angeles grocery store has once again drudged up the debate over whether the way government benefits are utilized should be heavily policed.
Jumping on the trend of using the Taylor Swift song “High Infidelity” to share what you were doing on April 29, TikToker Paulene (@paui.nc) shared a nine-second video of her and her friend purchasing sandwiches and smoothies at Erewhon Market. The supermarket chain has come to be associated with wealth and celebrities.
“Do you really wanna know where I was april 29th?” she wrote, quoting the song lyrics before adding her own response: “spending $80 in ebt while cosplaying as rich people at erewhon.”
@paui.nc i HATE that this strawberry glaze smoothie genuinely tasted like fruity heaven like wtf is so different in it…. maybe i’m romanticizing it bc it was so damn expensive??? but like no it was genuinely so good being inside an erewhon is like a fever dream of well dressed hippies and people who would rather do acrobatics around you than say excuse me #erewhon #erewhonmarket #erewhonsmoothie #erewhonbeverlyhills #strawberryglazeskinsmoothie #strawberryglaze #haileybieber #haileybiebersmoothie #sushi #sushisandwich ♬ original sound – kyra
The video has received over 285,000 views as of publication. In the comments section, a number of responses either expressed surprise that Erewhon accepts EBT or featured viewers claiming to have done the same thing as Paulene.
“Wait they’re so slay for taking ebt,” one viewer wrote. “I needa go nowww.”
“Using EBT at erewhon is my fav,” a second agreed. Another called dropping ebt at Erewhon “iconic.”
But the TikTok also drew the kind of people who become irate anytime folks receiving government assistance don’t seem perpetually miserable, starving, and deprived of any modern comforts.
Paulene, who says she is a low-income student at the University of Southern California, addressed these people in a follow-up video. She noted that she’s received EBT for two years, and a single trip to Erewhon isn’t indicative of how she normally uses the benefits. She also pointed out the deep hatred for poor people these attitudes blatantly betray.
“It just frames it so that poor people who need EBT owe it to other people to basically be starving all the time and to only use it to, like, keep themselves from dying,” she said.
@paui.nc the societal hatred for poor people and people who use ebt goes CRAZY 🤨 likee.. i do not need to prove to anyone that i’m close enough to dying to deserve my ebt lmao,, social mobility is such a foreign concept sometimes #calfresh #erewhon #ebt #firstgen #firstgenstudent #usc #uscstudent #lowincome #lowincomestudent ♬ MONOPOLY – Ariana Grande & Victoria Monét
@paui.nc sorry i split it into 2 parts so that i could add some closing thoughts — moral of the story is that collective care can never thrive for as long as we ridicule those who are less fortunate than us for trying to be kind to themselves every now and then #firstgen #firstgeneration #firstgenerationstudent #usc #firstgenatusc #erewhon #ebt #lowincome #lowincomestudent ♬ MONOPOLY – Ariana Grande & Victoria Monét
“The saddest part to me is we are so much closer to each other in financial capability than we will ever be to the people who are responsible for the financial conditions that we live in,” the TikToker continued. “When something comes up about pricing or how people use, like, what little money they have, their first move is to weaponize their resentment to the people who are just like them. Isn’t that so weird?”
The Daily Dot contacted Paulene for comment via email.