... the tool police telling me I didn't spend enough or it isn't the right brand or whatever they can think to belittle what I bought.
Honestly, I don't think that would be tolerated here.
Sure, there are people who insist you should "buy the best", but it's completely safe to ignore them if you choose, and there are usually folks around who argue back at them.
Personally, I have several Benjamins Best gouges and scrapers (the HSS ones from PennState Industries), a whole bunch of second-hand Craftsman tools that I bought second hand off eBay and Craigslist very cheap (both HSS and even older carbon steel).
Once I'd taken a class in bowl turning, and been shown how to use a bowl gouge, I felt confident enough to get one of Doug Thompson's gouges.
I don't regret for one minute buying cheap tools. It meant I wasn't afraid to apply the grinder and see dollars vanishing in sparks.
I don't regret buying a Harbor Freight lathe, either. Now I have a better one, but that was enough to get me started and see which way I wanted to go with turning. And even though I bought another lathe, I still use that HF lathe for some things -- it handles longer spindles than my newer one.
Don't let them get to you.