How I Accidentally Became A Hipster: A Survivor's Tale
For me, it all started about four years ago. I had just landed my job at Who What Wear, gotten a new set of wheels (what up, Nissan Versa), and was figuring out which pocket of LA I was going to nestle into. Santa Monica? Nay, too square. Downtown? Smelly. West Hollywood? Too loud. Then I stumbled across Silverlake: there were parks, interesting restaurants, and men with scruffy beards—I was down. Like a moth to the flame, I was drawn to the hipster-friendly neighborhood, and moved into the first apartment I could get my Craigslist-addicted hands on.
Every city has their breed of hipster, and this is a tale of the LA version. To be perfectly honest with you, my perception of the LA hipster scene can literally be summed up with two simple words: hot guys. So, like any single 23-year-old, I did some internet perusing. “Silverlake bars hipster guys go to” may have been something I searched, maybe it wasn't. Whatever! Skip forward a few months, and I was waist-deep in a new world full of LCD Soundsystem, mirrored sunglasses, and a whole lot of PBR.
My personal style acclimated to my surroundings so rapidly, I hardly knew when (or how) my transformation occurred. But it had. Before I knew it, I found myself wearing thigh-high socks, high-waisted denim cutoffs, and enough off-season flannel to make Angela Chase thoroughly proud.
Then one day I had a moment of self-reflection: not in the mirror, but in the middle of a backyard BBQ in Silverlake. As I sipped on my PBR and mindlessly listened to a conversation about why music sounds so much better on vinyl, I took a look around. It was all the same. The ironic t-shirts, tribal-print leggings, un-prescribed glasses—and none of it inspired me.
It was like this group of people had ascribed to a coolness cult, with a prerequisite American Apparel-meets-MGMT groupie uniform, and there was no other way to engage with them than to act and dress in kind. From that day forward, the term hipster left a sour taste in my mouth. I retired my Silverlake uniform for good, eased up on the LCD Soundsystem, and cleared my search history.
Fast-forward four years, and I’m still living in Silverlake, and am still being called a hipster. By whom, you ask? Everyone I know who doesn’t live in Silverlake, which begs the question: do your geographical surroundings dictate other people’s perception of you? My answer: a resounding yes.
Technically, I was a hipster by definition. I wore the uniform, listened to the vinyl, and maybe talked about Sylvia Plath more than I needed to, but I don’t anymore.
I suppose my conclusion is simple: just because you like a neighborhood, or the men in said neighborhood, doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to the culture—at least not fully. You can, and should, still be you, even if that means not being the hippest girl at the party.
Oh, and for the record: I still like scruffy beards and PBR, but now I enjoy both in jeans and a t-shirt.
Where do you live? Do you fit into your neighborhood’s culture?