The stereotype of those living in poverty is that they are easily identifiable -- many assume that they're homeless, unemployed, wearing tattered clothes or visibly in need of a decent meal. Yet, 30-year-old Katrina Gilbert is real-world proof that not all women living on the edge of poverty fit the old stereotypes.
Gilbert, whose story is featured in the HBO documentary "Paycheck to Paycheck," is a working mother of three, making $9.49 an hour as a certified nursing assistant. Each day, she faces struggles familiar to the 42 million women living at or below the poverty line, from only making partial payments on monthly bills to choosing which of her own medications she must do without.
Many of those women saw "Paycheck to Paycheck" and told executive producer, Maria Shriver, that Gilbert's story was identical to their own. During a town hall session on poverty with Oprah Winfrey, Shriver explained how these women represent a new face of poverty. "People who live paycheck to paycheck, they don't look like they're a bum on the street," Shriver says. "They're the person sitting next to you in a cubicle."
"Because this is what the new poor is," Oprah says. "Sometimes it's wearing nice boots."
And sometimes, as is Gilbert's case, it's getting her hair colored. One scene from "Paycheck to Paycheck" showed Gilbert visiting a hair salon, which generated a largely negative reaction from audience members.
"Several people said, 'Well, if she doesn't have any money, how come she gets her hair colored?'" Shriver says. "Really? She's not allowed to do anything for herself?"
For Shriver, the conversation isn't something that should dissolve into shaming. "Let's suspend judgment. That's the one thing she can do for herself," she says. "I think we all know, as women, how good we feel about ourselves if we just go and get a blow-dry, or somebody does something to make us feel better."
Despite any negative feedback, Gilbert herself says that she's happy she allowed cameras to capture her life and struggles for a full year -- especially because it has helped shed light on what poverty really looks like.
"My fellow coworkers, they've seen it," Gilbert says. "They've [said], 'I see you at work and you look like you don't struggle at all… I did not realize how much you were struggling and how hard it's been for you.'"