Okay, so I get that I am a little unconventional. The majority of my overflowing closet consists of hand-me-downs, eccentric patterns and thrift shop deals. I have more kinds of socks than friends and my sunglasses collection has a pair of shades to suit any sunny day outing.
Despite the loudness of my style, I aspire to present myself merely as I am. My style intentions are geared only towards wearing what I feel rocks at expressing myself. Once I overcame the need to “fit in” and realized it is much more entertaining to dress for what I love, I began to only wear things that spoke to my soul. Back in high school I was just whacky. People in their American Eagle jeans and Hollister tees did not understand my choice of crazy-patterned gypsy pants or decision to sport a hot pink fanny pack.
I thought I was just expressing myself, but society seems to feel the need to put a label on everything, even those who refuse to succumb to the societal expectation of labels. I am Arline, and society says I am “hipster.”
According to an article written by Mark Greif in New York Magazine who did an elaborate analysis of hipsters, “Its evolution lasted from 1999 to 2009, though it has shifted appearance dramatically over the decade.”
This article was published in 2010, therefore the current epidemic of hipster counterculture could not be accounted for. As a college student, I see other members of the Keene State College campus expressing themselves with rare finds and individualized outfits, and I adore it.
I have seen rainbow suspenders, tube socks and grandpa sweaters become the platform for certain students’ style. It is refreshing to see that people still go out and find a quirky accessory or outfit that makes them happy and then wear it with pride.
The beauty is that in Keene, people generally receive that kind of self-expression positively. Prior to transferring to Keene last spring I had attended another college where the culture could not have been less fitting.
Students in fitted blue jeans, brand-name tops and Michael Korrs accessories asked me why I would wear Crocs. Why was I wearing my shoes? So my feet would not hurt walking barefoot on the ground I suppose, why do you wear your Uggs?
A strong contribution to the definition of hipster by Greif is, “The hipster is a savant at picking up the tiny changes of rapidly cycling consumer distinction.” Greif said, “Among hipsters, the skills of hanging-on — trend-spotting, cool-hunting, plus handicraft skills — become the heroic practice.”
I try to make what I can. I make dream catchers along with other hanging decorations such as wind chimes, pins and I often cut up old clothes to give them a new feel.
These are not attempts to be ironic or cool, but ways I can individualize my things to suit me specifically. It often baffles me that more people do not participate in creating their own things like this. It is so simple and there is nobody better to make things unique to you than yourself.
So how does one define “hipster?”
A trusted source for these kinds of societal words, Urban Dictionary’s definition includes, “A subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence and witty banter.”
Well that does not seem so bad. The Urban Dictionary definition also states, “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.” In which case, I suppose guilty as charged. What eats me is that a label is necessary. Instead of someone saying, “You have such unique style,” they feel a need to characterize me as a hipster. What I have realized is that if it makes it easier for people to attribute my style choices to a particular term, and by doing so if it allows them to make sense of my chaotic style, then I shall allow people to interpret me in whatever way they can without frustration. If one is unfamiliar with something it can often help to classify.
I just hope those classifying me realize “hipster” is a blanket term that classifies a subculture whose style is to be their very own self in the face of a society trying to mold people this way or that.
My point being, “hipster” can be thrown around too freely. I believe there are those trying to appear individual and unique, and there are those who truly know themselves. I do not want to be categorized as fitting into any societal subculture, I view myself as a citizen of the world who is open to changes and is open to exploration of many fashions and ideologies.
In terms of veering from the mainstream, it is not that I so strongly aspire to be nonconformist; it is more that I seek things that satisfy my soul. I watch videos, listen to music and purchase clothing that I feel a great attraction to. I do what I want and follow my heart’s arrow. Perhaps my desire to be- left undefined is just exactly what classifies me as a hipster.
Arline Votruba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org