Bougies are simply a slang name for the bourgeoisie, the French word for middle class. However, the word has taken on a more distinct meaning, similar to that of yuppies and bobos (bohemian bourgeoisie) of earlier decades. Bougies are not simply middle class, they are trendy, upscale and some would say show-offy or pretentious in their habits.
There is no one habit or trait that makes one a bougie, but it isn’t hard to recognize one. Bougies tend to live in hip parts of cities, or artsy or college towns. They like the finer things in life, and are usually at the forefront of new trends in areas like fashion, ethnic foods and styles of music. Well, it might be more accurate that they try to appear at the forefront of such movements, as in most cases they follow rather than create new trends. However, when something new and exotic is on the cultural scene, you can be sure bougies will be the first to buy, patronize and flaunt it.
It might be argued that bougies are simply yuppies who have grown a little older and settled down into a more traditionally, well bourgeoisie kind of life. Whereas yuppies were notorious for their pure materialism –think Michael Douglas’ unforgettable character, Gordon Gecko– bougies attempt to balance finances with other things, like family, arts and spirituality. You could say bougies want it all -have their cake and eat it too.
Are bougies to be admired, despised or just reluctantly accepted? That depends on your point of view. To some, the ideal of having a successful career, an idyllic family life and a feng shui-correct, aromatherapy-enhanced home in a somewhat suburban but not totally culture-free zone is a lifestyle that’s hard to beat. On the other hand, if you are a hardcore anarchist, authentic urban rapper or diehard beatnik, hippie or punk (from one of those respective eras or not), you probably consider bougies to be pretentious and fake -cultural parasites of the lowest order.
Bougies are, like all social groups, ultimately a fiction. They are labeled and discussed by writers (like this one) and sociologists (though I don’t know if they’ve even discovered bougies yet). It can be fun and even educational to look at what makes various types of people tick, but when it comes down to it, no label can really sum anybody up –at least hopefully not.