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What Makes a Hipster

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Submitted By natr44
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What makes a Hipster?

You could be one yourself and never know.
By Nathan Green -- September 26, 2015

Hipster. If you ask a hipster, the word itself has lost all meaning. But if you ask someone else, it means hipster, and everyone gets it.

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Hipsters are difficult to describe as a group, but we know one when we see one, right? I used my residence at Oklahoma State University to find plenty of subjects, and several were willing to talk to me about their style. They were people who gave off that unique vibe that we can all know: a lack of any recognizable brands, skinny jeans (which are more of a collective style now, but are a must for a hipster it seems), glasses like Ray Ban Wayfarers or "Buddy Holly" style glasses, "ironic" t shirts like any kind of vintage rock tour shirt or anything eye catchingly original, and many carry messenger bags and sport facial hair (for males) coupled with the distinctive knit hat.

When studied, hipsterism has been described as a "contrarian culture" which is taking up a style or way of life in a way that is opposed to the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be, which was apparent by the disdain I was shown when I used the word hipster. That was the one thing that turned them against me, the implication that they were a member of a group. This is the basis of the culture. One of the key elements of being hipster is to "avoid the label." Darian, a tall man sporting a well groomed beard and riding a longboard had this to say: "The moment you define yourself too clearly is the moment you risk stagnating, you know? You can't let yourself become part of the crowd." This is exactly the underlying philosophy in hipster culture. You can't be like everyone else, as that would negate the whole ideology behind the nonconformist movement. Psychology Today did a report on this very topic and said that "the essence of being a hipster is to not be one".

The style has been around for years, and has made its way into almost every aspect of style we see in society. But hipsterification is a fast-moving, all-encompassing beast that goes far beyond urban fashion. Want to take up a pastime? Cooking, farming, knitting, woodcraft, photography, beekeeping and bicycling are considered hipster hobbies. Hipsters love their Apple products, yet swoon over antique technology like typewriters and record players.

Image by Hipster Girl Outfits on Pinterest
I saw what was now being called hipster, and it made me look at my own personal style. I don't identify as a hipster, but from what I've learned neither do they. So I realized that much of what I consider normal wear is "hipster" style clothing. The only way to safely avoid looking like a hipster, so far as I can tell, is to dress in oversize mesh jerseys bearing the logos of sports teams. Or to wear the blandest, baggiest, beige-est clothes possible, like a middle-aged tourist. Such is the popularity of hipster culture that virtually every aspect of fashion and grooming has been adopted. I asked Marla, a pink haired girl wearing heavy rimmed glasses what she thought about the style of hipsters: "I personally don't think that hipsters exist anymore. I just dress how I want. If people want to brand me a hipster, then let them, I don't care what they say I am. I'm not a hipster, I don't think."

With all the people around campus dressing in this particular style I wondered how the idea of "mainstream" was now being defined. I asked a guy sitting on a wall near Edmon Low that was wearing skinny jeans with a Black Keys shirt and typing on a Mac what he thought about mainstream culture. "I don't think there's any such thing as mainstream anymore, man. Why?" When I explained that I was asking questions for a paper on hipster culture, he laughed. "Dude there's no hipsters anymore, really. There's a few really hardcore hipsters I guess, but now its kinda just whatever is in style. It's not a thing anymore." I can see his point of view. The whole hipster idea is about doing things that aren't what everyone else is doing. I think modern hipsterism is affected by a contradicted identity. When everyone is rejecting the mainstream, no one is. When everyone is a hipster, no one is a hipster.

After getting all the responses from people saying that they weren't hipster, I found one man willing to say that he was part of the subculture that so many denounce. I asked what he thought: "HIpsters? Yeah, I guess I try to be one. It's not a big deal though. I try to be different from everyone else basically. I enjoy it."

Many hipsters are aware that hispterism is frequently parodied or derided because hipsters bother some people. They have to get used to disdainful attitudes and to work out the ways that theyre most comfortable responding. Some people hate hipster style with a passion, and actively speak out against it. Hipsters don't seem to care too much for this, actually some treat it like "haters" and call it motivation. A man named David wearing a cardigan and ripped jeans told me "I don't think I'm a hipster, but if people get all riled up over what otherImage from people like, that's messed up. Who cares? They're not bothering you. And honestly if someone came to me and said that they didn't like how I lived, you know what I'd do? I wouldn't do anything about it. All that it would do would make me not like that guy. I wouldn't change anything. In fact, the fact that he was mad would be like, incentive."

Many people don't see themselves as hipster, but because of the definition of hipster and the various effects that make one, they very well could be. If I walk into a cafe wearing a plaid shirt, skinny jeans, and a sock hat, I am indistinguishable from any other "not-hipster" in the area. If it looks like a hipster, walks like a hipster and quacks like a hipster...

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