Poverty is often characterized by strenuous labour and a substandard mental state. These effects are evident throughout Ehrenreich’s experience working low paying jobs and they continuously deteriorates as she struggles to get by.
As a maid Barbara felt a persistent sense of inferiority, chiefly from people outside her profession. She often describes the owners of the houses she cleans as acting “hostile or contemptuous”(99) towards them. When she cleans they frequently glare and spy on them in a demeaning manner, resulting in a lowered self esteem and sense of self worth. This is crucial to a person’s quality of life and makes the strenuous job of cleaning even more detrimental to their health and well being. According to The Self Esteem Institute “Most cases of depression are the result of low self esteem”.
During her time working for molly maids Ehrenreich also experienced feelings of worthless and a lack of dignity. This was evident when she was cleaning for a woman named Mrs. W. As Ehrenreich was cleaning on her hands and knees she endured her persistent, judging glare. This scene shows their difference in power, as she stands over Ehrenreich she is showing dominance and stripping Barbara of her dignity. This had a negative effect on her during her time working at Molly maids as it became increasingly difficult to endure the physically and mentally demanding days.
These invisible effects of poverty affected her in every job she worked at and are what the working lower class face everyday.