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  • The various and hypocritical definitions of the word “hippie”

    15 comments Published Jan 14, 09 AM
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    By Joslyn Hamilton

    vulture_greaseRecently, I made a derogatory comment about hippies to my mom—a hippie—and she, not surprisingly, questioned if I even understand what a hippie is. It made me pause and realize that I hypocritically use the word hippie in several different ways, and they swing wildly from flattering to contemptuous. In my generation, hippie has strayed from its original meaning. So I took the time to define it for her (and myself).

    hip·pie noun \ˈhi-pē\

    THE WORD HIPPIE CAN BE USED WITH REVERENCE:

    : When speaking about my parents, hippie means that they were part of a revolutionary culture movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s that involved a radical change in fashion, politics and social mores. They were antiauthoritarian, politically progressive, lived off the land, eschewed bourgeois modern amenities like dishwashers and Crisco, listened to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie on vinyl, and had long hair. They actually went to Woodstock. They turned on, tuned in and dropped out. This use of hippie is a compliment.

    Contextual Example

    “My parents were hippies, so my first babysitter was a record player and a bunch of vinyl Woody Guthrie.”

    Synonym

    Bohemian

    THE WORD HIPPIE CAN BE SELF-EFFACING:

    : When speaking about myself or my friends, hippie means that we are laidback, low-maintenance sorts (or pretend to be) who dabbled in mind-altering drugs in college and probably enjoyed a jam band at some point when we were much, much younger. Remnants of our hippie-ness have followed us into adulthood, like our penchant for natural foods, our aversion to fanciness, and our willingness to cleave to nature. We once lived in Boulder or Vermont. We spend a lot of time outside and have to really make an effort to wear mascara to the grocery store. This usage of hippie is self-effacing but ultimately a compliment.

    Synonyms

    Just plain lazy

    Contextual Example

    “I’m a hippie, so most of my shoes are boots and flip flops.”

    THE WORD HIPPIE CAN BE PEJORATIVE:

    : When speaking about other people, hippie means that are overly groovy. They lack boundaries and a proper sense of personal space, talk in vapid new age platitudes, don’t properly attend to body hair below the fold, if you will, and like to sleep on futons. They wear patchouli and, worse, sandalwood. Basically, this subset of people took the worst and most superficial aspects of the real hippie movement in the ‘70s and appropriated it for their own narcissistic gain. They are vegan, but they smoke. This usage of hippie is derogatory.

    Synonyms

    Crunchy, granola

    Contextual Example

    “I ended up with a bag of goji berries after that yoga studio opening, but I’ll just pawn it off on one of my hippie friends.”

     

    About Joslyn Hamilton