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Mainstream? The term “hipster,” originally used to express individuality, has become a common stereotype used and misused by students at West High By Julia Truszkowski juliatruszkowski@gmail.com

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here’s more to the story than an oversized flannel shirt paired with tight jeans and tattered shoes. The story lies in the pointer finger jabbed in their direction accompanied by the retort: “What a hipster.” It’s a word muttered in the hallways and commons, hashtagged on Twitter, and directed at individuals sporting unique, trendy clothes. It’s a compliment, an eyeroll, a lifestyle, a big void of undefined “huh?” to anyone over the age of 30, and something West High students can’t escape. “Over the past couple of years it’s become a big topic,” said Olive Carrollhach ’13, who frequently falls victim to the stereotype. “It’s been taken by high school students to mean anyone who follows certain trends with clothing or music.” So, is there a distinct hipster recipe? If you add a Bon Iver record and some thick-rimmed glasses and subtract Justin Bieber, Abercrombie, or anything else deemed “mainstream,” can you stick it in the oven and expect it to come out hipster? Graham Bly ’13 thinks there’s more to it. “I feel like ‘hipster’ is a broad term [with] a lot of subcategories to it,” he said. “It encompasses a lot of different styles so it’s hard to pinpoint.” However, many feel they can distinguish hipsters from non-hipsters as easily as if it were green from gold. A trendy ensemble of second hand sweaters and tight-fitting jeans alludes to independent film festivals and a pretentious attitude. “I hope I’m not that pretentious,” Bly said of these assumptions. “If someone saw me and had a previous hatred towards hipsters then they might think, ‘Oh, he’s just one of those people and they all suck.’ But I’m a nice guy, so don’t hate.” Judge a book by its cover and you might miss out on potential friendships, according to Carrollhach. “I think [people] assume that I’m only going to be interested in hanging out with a certain type of person,” she said. “Just because I’m wearing a Cosby sweater doesn’t mean I’m not a person you can relate to.” Erin Weathers ‘13 tries to eschew this hipster label as well.

Just because I’m wearing a Cosby sweater doesn’t mean I’m not someone you can relate to.”

-Olive Carrollhach ‘13

“-Erin Weathers ‘13

I’m hip, I’m cool. I’m a ‘coolster,’ but I’m not a hipster.”


‘Hipster” is a broad term... It encompasses a lot of different styles so it’s hard to pinpoint.”

-Graham Bly ‘13

what first comes to mind when you hear the word “hipster?” Isn’t a hipster someone who doesn’t like what everybody else likes? I don’t like football. Does that make me a hipster? -Lilian Zhu ‘14

Trendsetters- the iconic Raybans, beanies, and vintage floral dresses. -Eveline Dowling ‘15

If I ever wanted to be a hipster, I’d go to Erin Weathers’ closet and steal her clothes. -Joey Abreu ‘13

“I dress the way I want… I don’t go out of my way to listen to obscure music just because it’s obscure,” Weathers said. “I don’t force myself to do something because people will think I’m a hipster for doing it.” Similarly, when Carrollhach wears a sweater she jokingly refers to as “grandfather chic,” there are no ulterior motives lying beneath it. “It really just comes down to what I find fashionable,” Carrollhach said. “I think it’s important that your clothes and your overall persona broadcast who you are as a person.” Weathers agrees. “The way I dress definitely defines me,” she said. And, just as she grew older, her taste evolved with her. “[People I’ve gone to school with] saw me go through my horse phase in third grade and they saw me with braces in junior high, when I thought I could express myself through graphic tees and graphic tees alone… Now that I’m older, I guess you could say I found myself. I’m confident and I stay true to myself.” Bly shows his true colors by playing in a band, which he considers “expression at its finest.” “I play ukulele and synthesizer, sometimes drums,” he said. “I guess you could call our style independent or alternative.” “Indie” music is another key ingredient in the hipster recipe. Under the radar bands are often thrown in the mix, just like the people who listen to them. “I guess you could say I have a sort of eclectic

taste, but it’s definitely not all of the stereotypical hipster music,” Carrollhach said of her broad musical spectrum, ranging from German techno to country. Being the first to discover something can be appealing, but it’s more human nature than wanting to be a part of the hipster crowd, according to Carrollhach. “I think there’s a certain level of pride in pioneering anything,” she said. “If you don’t want to be one of the crowd, you want everyone to know that you thought of it first.” Despite the natural desire to be unique, Weathers doesn’t steer clear of mainstream music, from One Direction to Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” “You know what? I’ve never changed the radio station when that was on,” she said. From Carrollhach’s pixie haircut to the lockpicking kit she got for her birthday, she stands out as an individual. But that doesn’t mean she can’t relate to her classmates. “I like eating ice cream and building pillow forts and watching movies and driving to nowhere,” Carrollhach said. “I do generally the same things as everybody else.” Forming opinions about someone should be as simple as thinking they’re “super cool or have good taste,” according to Weathers. “I just want to do away with the phrase ‘hipster,’” she said. “I don’t label anyone as a hipster, especially not myself.”

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