A few years ago a friend from High School commented on one of my paintings and said, “Wow, love this. So hipster.”
My heart sank. I remember the first time I heard the word, “hipster”, and unknowingly I asked the definition of it from a verifiable Hipster. He explained it in the simplest terms he could (for as a Hipster, he was unnecessarily condescending), and then I queried him thus, “Oh…am I a hipster?” To which he responded, “Oh, no. Not at all. You’re not really…hip?”
Initially I thought this an insult, but in hindsight I appreciate his comment. “Oh, thank goodness, I’m not a Hipster, because apparently people hate Hipsters!” And in time I *too* came to hate Hipsters. Their population exploded a few years back and suddenly it was as if we were drowning in them; Nerdy Hipsters, Bro Hipsters, Political Hipsters, Music Hipsters, Art Hipsters, Fashion Hipsters, Punk Hipsters, Europe Hipsters, Theater Hipsters, the list goes on and on.
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But I felt smugly safe in my little world of “You’re not really…hip…” and felt immune to the ire of those who hated all that is hipster.
Until my high school friend’s innocent observation. “Your art looks like the kind of art Hipsters make and would probably like.” Oh, the chill that ran down my spine. In the years since, it seems I’ve only given Hipster Haters more ammunition to rebuke me. I sew using second-hand materials from locally owned thrift stores (HIPSTER!), I buy my fruits and veggies and other delicious things from our Farmers Market (HIPSTER!!!!!), my parents are folk/Americana musicians and I listen predominately to unsigned folk musicians, sometimes even on records (OH MY GOD HIPSTER), I bounce back and forth between vegetarian and eating a Paleo diet (HIPSTERHIPSTERHIPSTERHIPSTER), and I’m a Libertarian, and I homeschool, and I really actually do like foreign films (especially South Korean films…those people know how to make a dang movie).
By conventional definitions…I think I’m a Hipster.
But, how did this happen? How did I go from not being “hip” to being a Hipster? Where was the transition? What decisions did I make in life that led me down this dark and crooked path?
The thing is, I am who I am for a myriad of reasons, most of which have less to do with my most recent decisions and interests, and more to do with my raising, my childhood, and my family.
Today I homeschool because I too was homeschooled by my parents. I listen to folk music because it’s what I was raised on and it’s the kind of music my own parents create. I buy local as often as I can because several women in my family (including my mother) were small business owners who relied on people like me to keep their dreams afloat. I shop at thrift stores because I grew up “poor” and had to buy new school clothes at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army for several years in a row. At the time I was miserable, but today I appreciate being thrifty and I appreciate not feeding into our society, so focused on constant consumption. And frankly, in every area of my life there’s a reason I got to be this way and a reason for who I am.
So, what is a Hipster? And am I a Hipster? And does it matter what I am or what I am not, in the grand scheme of things?
For now, these are questions I can’t answer. You have to be the judge of that. But, the next time you tell me, “Gah, you’re such a hipster”, I’m just going to smile and reply, “I know.”