FROM a thing of embarrassment and even shame, being working class is the new vegan joke: how do you know someone’s working class? Because they’ve told you.

Sometimes they tell you and it turns out they’re not even working class.

Being a nepo-baby – the child of someone famous or well-connected – or being from a rich family comes with so much baggage now in the arts and media and politics that you hear mad lines from famous people boasting about knowing the working class experience because they had a grandfather who worked in a pit.

I had a grandfather who worked in a Coatbridge iron foundry but that doesn't seem like a claim to knowledge of hard physical labour to me. It seems, I hate to say it, normal. A bit boring even.

My grandpa worked in the foundry and my gran was a housewife and they went to church without fail and raised three lovely daughters: a teacher, a nurse and a bank clerk. Respectable, and very definitely working class.

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I wonder what Harry Styles's claim to working class roots is. Poor old Harry Styles. Poor old rich, male, white Harry Styles. Crying over his legions of adoring fans and his fat, fat bank balance. Or, at least, that's been the reaction. But it's a fairly thoughtless one. Self-made millionaires have to start somewhere and that somewhere can be from a place of abject difficulty.

If you've missed it, our Harry won a Grammy and accepted the award with the words, "This doesn't happen to people like me very often." In fact, it happens to people like Harry Styles all the time.

You have to go back to 1999 to find the last time a black woman won album of the year: Lauryn Hill. Rich white dudes on the other hand - they're everywhere.

There's been a defence of Styles along the lines of, well, he meant he's from a working class, single parent family.

It's pointed out that he worked in a bakery as a teenager but teenage part time jobs doth not hardship make. He was raised by a single mum... fine, and I'm sympathetic to that.

Raising children alone is hard and particularly hard in the days when single mothers faced terrible stigma. I’m sure my mother was quietly relieved when my father died; I noticed she began to put “widowed” on official forms, feeling it more respectable than “divorced”.

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Some women are left working multiple jobs to make ends meet with no support. Harry has said in interviews that he remained close to his dad and his mum remarried fairly swiftly so, while divorce can obviously be painful for the children involved, he doesn't seem to have had it that bad.

This is the problem with homogenising the working class experience. Working class is often used as a synonym for poverty, which it certainly is not. It is used as a synonym for hard times, which it is not.

Some people are working class and have adverse experiences and some people are working class and don't even realise it because life is fine and everyone around them is working class too.

It can be excessively challenging to be from a working class background and have no connections to specific fields to them break into those fields. Journalism is one, arts is definitely one.

Last year there was a discussion around working class access to the arts. The number of working class people in the arts had fallen but so too have the numbers of people who are working class overall.  

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Harry Styles has gone for the "Who, me?" approach to his acceptance speech and that's the trope I find most problematic. The relentless emphasis on how hard it is to do anything as a working class person is surely discouraging to young people who want to succeed in their ambitions.

There are people with dreadful adverse childhoods who have battled to get where they are and hats off to them. But being working class is not an automatic impediment and hamming it up about how terrible it is does everyone a disservice.

I see my peers making an absolute meal out of other experiences that, again, just seem relatively standard - generational, rather than as a result of working class poverty.

Say, complaints about how they only had a bath a couple of times a week and had to share the bath water. I have plenty of friends, working class and middle and even upper middle class, who shared the bath water. Bathing every day seems a fairly modern affectation, likely due to the convenience of showers and instant hot water, rather than a marker of dread poverty.

I wonder if it's the lack of a war-generation grandparents that makes people so self-indulgent. I would have had the shortest of shrift for complaining about a bi-weekly bath to a woman with experience of outside lavatories.

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Things, I really hope, are getting better now. There is a concerted effort in schools to support young working class pupils into whatever they want to be - aspiration is nurtured.

Being working class is becoming a badge of honour, rather than a source of shame, and standing on your own two feet preferable than a nepotistic leg up.

Harry can be praised for making his own way in the world but he should count himself lucky to be people like him.