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That’s too mainstream: Defining the hipster

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Conforming to the social norm is a goal for some, but for others it’s just too mainstream. These people, otherwise known as “hipsters,” are usually found in thrift stores and hidden coffee shops or on the streets of Wicker Park. However, some people question if this is truly the definition of a hipster. If more people are concentrating on originality rather than fitting in, is originality the new social norm? What exactly does it look like to be a hipster?

Instead of researching the true definition, I decided to ask the students at DePaul University what exactly is a hipster. Surprisingly, students have very different opinions on the true definition of a hipster.

“I feel like the term ‘hipster’ has lost its meaning,” said freshman digital cinema student Tom Hoscheidt. “I think it used to mean people who try too hard to not conform to society norms, but now I think it’s changed.”

Kevin Klein, a freshman, has the same opinion. Although many people feel Chicago is full of hipsters, Klein feels that every urban area is full of hipsters.

“I feel that the idea of hipsters has grown into a category rather than a type of person,” said Klein. “I feel like it’s become useless calling someone a hipster because they are pretty much found in every city. Especially in Chicago.”

Some students also feel that hipsters are a specific type of person with a particular sense of style and musical choice. Brendan Siefring, a freshman, feels that all hipsters have a basic dress code.

“From the top down, hipsters wear beanies, even in the summer,” said Siefring. “They wear thick-framed glasses, with or without lenses. They always have a scarf, no matter what season, along with a leather jacket. Typically they wear the three-quarter sleeved shorts, felt belts, extremely tight jeans or shorts, tube socks, and top it all off with either boat shoes or Vans.”

These clothes generally are found in thrift stores, said sophomore hospitality student Chelsea Robinson. According to Robinson, their outfits are cheap and consist of neutral colors so they can blend in with the crowd rather than standing out.

So where do you find these hipsters? The unanimous response among students is Wicker Park, but some also said that hipsters are found on DePaul’s campus, too. John Ryan, a freshman finance student, shared that DePaul’s hipsters are typically found smoking a cigarette.

“If they aren’t at the Bean Caf’ÛΩ, then they are outside the dorms smoking at all hours of the day,” said Ryan.

Hipster students are majoring in philosophy or are heavily involved in the music program at DePaul, said Siefring. Danny Kuruvillo, freshman accounting student, said the honors college is also full of hipsters.

“I was surprised when I came here how many hipsters there are,” said Siefring.

When talking with a hipster, phrases such as “you’ve probably never heard of it,” “that’s too mainstream” or “that flick was deep, man” are popular in conversation. Etsie Arruda, a freshman digital cinema student, finds that conversation with a hipster always turns into a debate about a point that either makes no sense or doesn’t even matter.

“I have a secret theory that hipsters will sometimes buy a thesaurus and read it before they go to bed so the next day they can just use all these long words to make you feel stupid because you don’t know what they mean,” said Arruda. 

Along with memorizing long words, Arruda also feels hipsters spend their time taking pictures with their vintage cameras or using Instagram. Most of their pictures consist of their coffee cup either from Starbucks or Caribou, or perhaps some other shop that isn’t “mainstream.”

“They usually order something long and obnoxious when ordering their drink,” said Siefring.

“Typically they order something that isn’t on the menu,” said Robinson.

Nevertheless, if hipsters are popular throughout DePaul and the city of Chicago, is being a hipster actually mainstream?

“Everyone’s a hipster now, pretty much the heart of the youth,” said Hoscheidt.

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That’s too mainstream: Defining the hipster