Monday, January 19, 2009

On hipsters

Which could probably also be the title of this blog. Today I saw a 40ish overweight woman on my bus. Stringy hair, unflattering plastic-frame glasses, high-waisted jeans, a well-worn hoodie. In other words, she could have been a hipster, if she were younger and probably thinner.* It made me wonder how the line between hipster and homeless (or just fringe) is so clear despite the elements of the aesthetic being pretty damned similar at times. I also wonder if there will be a point when I stop looking like a shabbily-dressed hipsteroid and start looking like a member of the leisured indigent class. Only time will tell, although I probably won't know until I start getting handed change at bus stops. As if to make my point, there was a similarly-dresed woman on the bus who was young and thin. She, however, had dreadlocks, and thus was also excluded from any meaningful definition of hipster. Actually, that doesn't make my point at all. I guess I don't really have a point. I just want to see a hipster that really, really looks homeless.

There is this one homeless guy who goes to my church. He doesn't look like a hipster at all -- he's 61 years old and wears baggy sweatpants and sleeveless shirts all the time (he once made fun of Baby for going to the "yuppie" Goodwill) -- but at the Christmas bazaar, he put on a tight blazer with a hand-painted picture on the back and it was like he was magically transformed into a hip, jaded gallery owner or something. That made me really happy. Then he told me all about rosin-baked potatoes and a mystical Hobart-brand machine called the Rozzlebake, but that's a story for another time.

* I realize that there are lots of 40-year-old hipsters and overweight hipsters, but we're dealing with generalities here. Also, I realize that I'm far from being the first person to make this observation, so suck it.


In the comments, Will asks why one can't homeless and a hipster.  The causes of homelessness and hipsterism are manifold, but I think it comes down to this: most hipsters are middle-class, and there is a certain social safety net that comes with that.  Homelessness can generally be prevented by such a network, except in some cases of mental instability or severe addiction.


  1. > the line between hipster and homeless

    Can homeless not be hipsters? Can hipsters not lose their homes?

  2. This is all very interesting, though I wonder if there is another discussion to be had about the distinction between hipster and yuppie. Or yupster. Or whatever. I'm late for yoga.