Before I even start this article I can already hear the grumbles of disgruntled humans all across the internet. Do not be mistaken, I in no way dislike or condemn the hipster movement, I just have trouble digesting it.
Long before ‘hipster’ was a word added to the millennial vocabulary, people all over the world were swaddling themselves in warm jumpers and reading poetry while nursing a large cup of coffee. The hipsters were the people whose personality just couldn’t be confined inside of them – it ended up leaking out in the form of crazy hair colour and questionable fashion decisions.
While stereotyping is something to be wary of, it’s not a stretch to say that people’s hobbies and passions shape who they are as human beings. Many people who are passionate about sports are generally more likely to wear work-out gear on the daily, or go jogging disgustingly early on a sunday morning when the rest of the word is rightly asleep. Those who love art can be found perusing galleries while wearing clothes that would turn Iris Apfel’s head. It’s no secret that people use their dress sense to show the world who they are and what they want to express. Are they outgoing? Shy and retiring? Or do they like to stand out and be a little weird?
I’ve always loved large jumpers and have been an avid writer since I was a child. However, I always thought this was a little uncool since I never really seemed to fit in. I was never very good at sports and preferred to sit in the back during drama class. I drank tea by the gallon and hardly ever wore makeup, letting my freaky white-blond eyelashes fly.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began hearing the word “hipster” being whispered; a breeding ground for mass produced individuality. Suddenly it was cool to be different, to turn your back on the mainstream. However, if you happened to look at all alternative, people snorted at your beanie and notebook as you sat at a cafe. The word “pretentious” dripped off their lips, ready to fall into their freshly brewed coffee.
I felt utterly confused. How could something be cool and uncool at the same time? I grew shy about the things I liked, and became wary of expressing my hobbies. The once peaceful corners of the earth that had long since been left alone were now crowded with people and the heaviness of stereotypes waiting to be cast. I felt a little cheated. I finally had a place where I could feel more myself, more at home, but at the cost of looking like a sham.
No matter where we look we see these societal double edged swords both saving us and snubbing us at the same time. The term ‘basic bitch’ was coined on the back of the success of Starbucks and has become something people are both proud and ashamed to be associated with. While half of Instagram is filled with women proudly sharing pictures of their soy macchiatos, everyone else is either belittling them or purposely not sharing such pictures, scared of being falsely labeled. And let’s not get started on how socially conscious people are unfairly stereotyped – feminism in particular is still often seen as a subsection of grumbling, hairy-legged women as opposed to the strong movement it represents.
Humans, by nature, are pack animals, so it comes as no surprise that we feel more comfortable grouping people together in order to find where we belong. I have to wonder, however, if we would be better off simply allowing people to go about their lives enjoying what they love and expressing themselves without fear of being pigeon-holed, for better or worse.
Even now, in my mid-twenties, I feel wary of expressing myself in case I am stigmatized with the negativities of stereotypes. Many may say, ‘Well, just care less about what others think,’ and to an extent, that’s very true. If I paid less attention to the opinions of others, perhaps I would be much more comfortably me. But really, is wishing for a more accepting world something so wrong to hope for? I don’t think so.
Image credit: Hipster Barbie lives her life authentically one staged photo in front of a plain wall at a time…