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How to be Alternative, Not Hipster

Updated on November 4, 2012

Despite being this year's #1 buzzword in style, hipster is still an ambiguous term. What is a hipster? Many people still don't know what a hipster looks like, or acts like, how how to avoid being a hipster, or how to be a hipster- if you're into that. In this article, I'll attempt to define hipsterism, starting with one shocking fact: the people who most often complain about hipsters - are hipsters! Worried yet? Don't be. Just because you have an alternative style doesn't necessarily make you a hipster, so let's talk about the differences and figure out what this is all about.

Hipster is an Attitude

A true hipster is defined by a certain attitude. This attitude can be described as:

  • holier than thou
  • pompous
  • pretentious
  • false

Of course no one who is any of those things would admit it, especially not to themselves. So you have to look at your actions and the motivation behind them. Let's draw some comparisons.

listens to a new band...
because it's similar to what they like.
because it's a new band.
likes a hairstyle...
because they think it looks cool.
because they think it looks different
wears clothing...
to achieve a look, be comfortable.
to be silly or ironic
is anti-society...
because the things they like aren't popular or acceptable.
for the sole purpose of being anti-society. Doesn't understand that being anti-society isn't a "goal."

the basic theme is that the motivations for an alternative person are genuine, while those of a hipster aren't. If two people are doing all the same things, but one is doing it because that's what they enjoy, and the other is doing it to fit into a group or be different, the 2nd one is a hipster.

Once a hipster feels that they have achieved alternative status, e.g. that they are "the best" at being alternative, they adopt the pretentious pompous attitude. (Note that a truly alternative person would never think about how "well" they were doing at fitting into an alternative group or being the "most" alternative)

You might be a hipster if...

Some things are undeniably hipster. Even if you do these things in jest or to make fun of hipsters - you're a hipster. Remember that the key to avoiding hipsterism is to be genuine, and not to do things for reasons like making fun another group or trying to be different.

Undeniably Hipster Even if Done Ironically:

  1. large frame or overly colorful glasses
  2. colored jeans
  3. scene hair
  4. undercuts
  5. tattoos of swallows, stylized quotes, anchors
  6. cardigans on men, men's cardigans on women
  7. talking about hipsters (yes, I am now a hipster - I admit it)
  8. veganism (sorry vegans, I know you came first, but we have to admit the truth)
  9. gluten-free (unless you have actually been diagnosed with celiac's)

If you have any of these, regardless of your true status, you're going to be called a hipster. Do some soul searching and think about whether you really enjoy listening to all of the bands you like to talk about.

It's Cool to be Uncool

Is it really a bad thing to be a hipster? If you're a pompous annoyance about it, yes. But often times, the term can just refer to the "Hipster Style" which in reality isn't so bad. It's kind of cute if you're into that.

The point, really, is not to be a poseur. If you're a hipster, don't go around flaunting how you don't eat eggs, don't bring up bands no one cares about in normal conversation, and don't spend all your time denying your hipster status. It's annoying. This is why people don't like hipsters. They can't be real about the reasons that they do things, and they're difficult to have a true friendship with because they are obsessed with social climbing and one-upping you.

Say Anything describe it perfectly in their song "Admit it."

I'm sure you're proud that you've usurped the "popular kids table"
You son of a (#####)
Which means you've forfeited your dubious anti-cred by buying into your own inflated hype
And I don't define my enemies by the clothes they wear or the pretentious bands they like
It's about how you seek to control minds, just to appease what you've always lacked!


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