UAHS takes a closer look at what it means to be a part of the national fad
by Griffin Gulcher ’12, Hannah Benjamin ’13, David Streicher ’13, Grace Moody ’14, Anna-Maria Thalassinos ’14
The term evokes images of wool hats, skinny jeans, messenger bags and indie rock music. Students with vintage clothing, listening to Foster the People and other indie bands roam the halls attempting to not conform to the rest of society.
Irritated by the superficiality of “mainstream” culture, hipsters have been viewing the conventional world through their thick-rimmed glasses since the 1940s. This act of non-conformity has grabbed the attention of UAHS students.
Like many teenage trends, the hipster obsession at UAHS is merely an attempt to gain identity, according to senior Parker Ewan.
“People in this school try to portray ‘hipsters,’” Ewan said. “They wear distressed leather boots, messenger bags and Toms. It’s not fair and not realistic.”
The hipster fashion trend is common among the student body. As a survery of 126 UAHS students demostrates, this new group is rising up and breaking the barriers of “mainstream” inside the UA community. Junior Ava Esler thinks that most people are attracted to hipster dress rather than the actual lifestyle.
“They are trying to be different [so] they dress as hipsters,” Esler said.
Becoming a “hipster” can be considered an outlet to stimulate individuality. Hipster dress and the lifestyle are far from the mainstream. Thus, those defined as hipsters promote individualism and show their true colors.
Junior May Kodama believes that students may be more inclined to adapt to this trend of “hipster” culture for the label of being different.
“Knowing an underground band that no one else has heard of makes us ‘different’ and ‘individual,’ thus ‘cool,’” Kodama said. “People like to be innovative and want to be the ‘trend starters,’ whether it be in fashion or music, so we all find ourselves looking for the newest styles or bands, which is an element of what ‘hipster’ is defined as.”
The word “mainstream” is a relative term that is open for interpretation. Sophomore Morgan Rupp defines it as, “what everyone is doing and it changes with the decades.”
At UAHS, this new culture is bubbling to the surface more than ever since the start of the year.
“The hipster movement is not a subculture but a culture now in UA,” Rupp said.
While this new fad has become a part of many students’ lives, some have not been affected by the craze as much as others. Kodama claims she is a student who has stepped apart from both the “hipsters” and the “mainstream” and has found her own persona.
“If I like something, I like it, and if I don’t, I don’t. I think people should just accept their likes and dislikes and not form it based on what the majority likes,”Kodama said.
Rupp also verged toward the more independent and individualized category as Kodama. With the hipster trend prevailing within the school, Rupp says she is not impacted by it.
“In general I haven’t been very affected because I don’t like to follow trends so I stick with my own style,” Rupp said.
Even though students are trying to embody this hipster persona, Rupp predicts that this particular fad will eventually fade out.
“In five years the hipster ‘movement’ will die down and then we will see legitimate hipsters who don’t label themselves that way,” she said.
Some say they are trendsetters. Some say they are posers. Some say they are trying too hard and failing at embodying a true hipster. Regardless of all the controversies, hipsterdom is a facination at UAHS.
The Mainstream Fad
The coming and going of fads is common in high school culture. The surge in popularity of a certain subculture can rise and pass quickly, and the hipster trend is no exception. Many UAHS students believe that the hipster is on its way out.
“I think the peak of this ‘hipster trend’ is happening right now,” Kodama said. “If it hasn’t already passed in five years, it’ll definitely have died down or be a thing of the past.”
The death of the hipster movement in UA might be self-induced. As the trend gains popularity, it becomes conventional— exactly what hipsters rebel against.
“The hipster trend has moved from where it originated,” junior Raul Carvahlo said. “Being super-hipster was something only a few people did, now it’s very mainstream—just the opposite of what the hipsters want.”
Since being hipster is commonplace, it can’t be hipster, therefore, the real hipsters are the people who deny being hipster.
“They don’t consider themselves hipsters because being hipster is too mainstream, which is basically the most hipster thing you can think,” says Carvahlo. “The real hipsters don’t want to be hipsters. It’s all about irony with them, they only like things ironically, they don’t really like anything.”
Freshman Matthew Tiembrook also agrees.
“‘Hipster,’ isn’t really hipster at all anymore because people are trying to be hipster,” he said. “It’s almost hipster to say you’re not hipster.”
The reason for this confusing circular logic may be the lack of substance to the UA hipster craze—students emulating the fashion more than the lifestyle.
“A lot of them are just in it for the looks, for the fashion,” Carvahlo said. “Everyone wears the same glasses and stuff, everyone dresses the same, if they’re being hipster.”
For high school students, it can be difficult to forge an identity without following some trend. The hipster movement creates a useful way for many students to establish their independence while taking comfort in their established identity. Sophomore Reilly Cotterman believes that the “trend- following” begins after middle school as students try to develop their own identities.
“[UA students] don’t want to follow the trend of being some rich snobby kid,” she said. “They want to figure themselves out, and if they find something that no one else in Upper Arlington has found out, they want to take their claim to that sort of fame,” Cotterman said.
The Evolution of the Hipster
The word “hipster” was invented in the 1940s during the Jazz Age, when the subculture formed, according to the 2009 TIME Magazine story “Hipster,” by Dan Fletcher. Since then, the characteristics of a hipster have evolved, which could account for the varying definitions of the word.
Some historians believe hipster comes from “hip,” which describes the raging fans of jazz musicians during this era. Others think it came from “hop,” a word for opium, and still others believe it came from the African “hipi,” translating, “to open one’s eyes.” Soon, the suffix ‘ster’ was attached, making an official name for these “middle-class white youths seeking to emulate the lifestyle of the largely-black jazz musicians they followed,” Fletcher wrote. They were trendsetters, not conformers to popular styles, music, or beliefs.
This subculture began expanding, and by the end of World War II many Americans were familiar with the term. The culture embraced community and tried to lead a carefree, party life. To some, the hipster era died out soon and was replaced by hippies. To others, hipsters are still around today, found in cities such as San Francisco and Brooklyn. The modern-day hipster has evolved into something much different than the 1940s hipster.
A Thriving Culture
Regardless of its controversy or its stereotypes, the hipster trend has made its mark at UAHS. Students continue to dress as members of this subculture. Not just the true-blood hipsters, but also the supposed “posers” are followers of the hipster movement, inciting indie rock and vintage clothing across UA.
Although some may only be following for the fashion aspect of the movement, hipster culture is in the air. The allure of the thick rimmed glasses and torn shoes continues to rally more and more students to become part of hipsterdom.