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Illustration for article titled Swag!

Ok, this is kind of ridiculous and I need to share it. For some context, I recently gave birth at a hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (a pretty wealthy area), but I live just over a bridge in a much less posh neighborhood that is a good mix of working class through professional types. I chose the hospital because (aside from its good reputation) it is easy to get to from my place and also ten blocks from my husband's office, my in-laws' apartment, and (in another direction) my sister's apartment.

Anyway, it is pretty common, I guess, for new parents to be given a bag of free stuff when they leave the hospital. My impression is often it is samples of things that new parents need, including formula (something that breastfeeding advocates have decried as damaging to efforts to get more people to breastfeed). At this hospital, though, the swag is something totally different: a fabric pouch of Chanel cosmetics and a card that you can use to get a free Ralph Lauren baby outfit. I have no interest in dragging my recuperating self to the Ralph Lauren store to get a free outfit my kid will wear for two minutes when I have plenty of handed-down clothes for him to wear, but the Chanel stuff is kind of exciting. I'll happily use it, but I would never buy it for myself. It's a little pot of gel eyeshadow/liner in a deep, shimmery blue with a tiny little angled brush (I hate those tiny brushes, I don't know why they bother with them), an eyeshadow duo, and a bottle of perfume. When I had my first son at this hospital the perfume was Chanel No. 5, which my mother likes so I passed it on to her. Hopefully she'll be interested in this one also, since I am not a perfume person. I just looked it up and it appears that the retail value of these things is more than $150?!


When I look at this stuff I can't help but think of the ridiculous wealth that is the norm in so many parts of this city, and that the gap between the wealthy and the poor here has grown totally out of control. It's pretty disturbing and I feel sort of bad being excited to get this stuff.

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