Trying to find a definition of a hipster

Brandon Alik

Who are hipsters? According to urbandictionary.com, 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.” (Urbandictionary.com). Hipsters can be defined depending in what culture and area they live in. They are noticeable as they wish to dress the counter culture. However, we cannot just assume if someone is a hipster based on their appearance, there have to be more than the external factors that considers one a hipster.

Looking back to urbandictionary’s definition, hipsters have an appreciation for art and indie rock, creativity, intelligence, and are progressive in politics. These things make it more reasonable to judge whether one is a hipster or not. Judging who is and is not a hipster can be complex; we try to find an explicit line where we can call someone a hipster, but I think there are silver linings to consider before one can truly proclaim a person is a hipster. Some of these linings may consider a mix of the hipster fashion and indie rock, art, but no interest in politics. Also, anyone can be just following the fashion trend just for the fashion, without the internal components of what a hipster is. Thus, the internal factors draw the lines to what a hipster is.

The way society has understood what a hipster is how they want to be individualistic, or to go against the system. They want to move away from the mainstream, and not follow popular ideals or purchase things that are highly consumed. They do not feed off of main stream popular culture; they feed into their own interest and create their own local culture such as local bands, local restaurants, and their own fashion.

Looking back to the Culture Industry theory, hipsters go against the mainstream, yet they make their own culture and feed off their own culture; a subculture. Local shops are what provide the production for the local hipsters. In Portland, hipsters are known to wear local clothing from local shops (Buffalo Exchange, Red Light) instead of from high retail stores; they ride bikes instead of driving cars. In Hawai’I, hipsters are known to have dreads, wear organic material (sometimes from Goodwill), and try to be as organic as possible (such as substance use).

The way I understand what a hipster is is someone who expresses their self in a unique way. A hipster is unique. Although the material they wear and the music they listen comes out of main stream media, possibly the way they express and interpret main stream products and convert that into their own kind of interpretation is what makes me notice what a hipster is. It can be jeans from Goodwill, ye a sweater from American Eagle and they incorporate that to make their own individualistic appearance. In an iPod, they may have Beyonce or Lady gaga, but then they have indie music. Thus, expressing their self with a mix of interests from both mainstream and local and interpreting that into their own, unique way is what I see what a hipster is. Consuming products from the mainstream is understandable, but becoming and being what mainstream prefers you to be is not a hipster. We all can be a hipster in our own way.

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