reflections on hipster culture

You’ve seen them around. You might even know someone who is one. You might even BE one!…. I’m talking about hipsters, people. Hipsters are taking over the freaking world!

What is a hipster you ask? These days you can probably spot a hipster everywhere you turn, but chances are, if you’re not a part of the subculture, you probably had no idea that there was even a term to describe these people. Well, it’s time for some education in Hipsterdom!

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

Although “hipsterism” is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses.

Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too “edgy” for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The “effortless cool” urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic.

Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent’s trust funds.

Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional “rules” of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and “Britney Spears tube-tops” are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture.

Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. “distressed”), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.

Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural “norms” have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class.

(via urbandictionary.com)

Like a lot of things these days however, definitions are starting to get blurred, especially as the mainstream starts to adopt hipster culture. Just because someone adopts hipster fashion sense, does that make them a hipster? If being a hipster emanates originality and individuality, does that mean a person who conforms to hipster tastes in clothes, music, hair, etc, is not in fact being original?

In hindsight, I realised that I started along the path towards Hipsterdom long before I even knew what a hipster was, and that’s oddly comforting. If I’m going to be a stereotype, I’d rather become one, than follow one. I’m not so bothered about the whole being original thing. I know I’m not original. I’d be deluded to think that I was, and not to mention lonely. I think it’s nice to feel like you belong somewhere; that you’re a part of a particular culture. But I think you can still be an individual even though you adhere to certain cultural norms.

I recently began to fear for the survival of hipsterdom when I realised that the hipster aesthetic, particularly in terms of fashion sensibilities, is growing in popularity. If everybody starts to look like a hipster, would the hipster then cease to exist?! I’m comforted to think, however, that that probably won’t be the case. As the author of that post from urbandictionary.com said, hipsters will probably just move on to something else, which is a shame, because I like the hipster aesthetic as it is right now.

Anyhow, this post was mostly in response to my brother calling me a goth multiple times in the past few weeks. I am not, nor do I look like, a goth. Let’s try and be a little more original in the choice of stereotypes we use to label our friends and family shall we? There’s a whole world of differentness out there to choose from!

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: