I am called a "hippie" with a fair amount of frequency. Now, I'm guilty of throwing around labels willy-nilly too, so I know it's not always negatively motivated. How many times have I been on campus, seen a 20-something guy in skinny jeans and mentally shouted, "hipster!" So, I'm part of the problem and that's something I'm working. These rapid-fire judgments are based on appearance alone and that's what's so troubling about them.
When the label "hippie" is applied to me, it seems to come out of the mouths of those who don't quite know what to make of me and my life choices. So, they lump me into the only category they know that seems to fit. Except, it doesn't. The hippie culture was a very specific movement of a time a place that no longer exists and to which I don't really relate. It was a reaction to a political and cultural moment that has passed (or, at least, is very different). Just because I do some things that the hippies also did, like reject consumerist culture, or because I do some things that just seem similar to things that they might do, like eat a lot of whole grains, I get lumped into this category. I don't take this as an insult, but it just seems lazy, at best, and dismissive, at worst.
Silas and I made a trip to the library yesterday and while he gnawed on the pretend food in the play kitchen, I was able to read almost all of the newest issue of Natural Life Magazine (Mar/Apr 2012). In it, there was a really wonderful article by Erin Hofseth on this topic. She very eloquently summed up a lot of what I've been feeling lately:
So often when we make choices for our families that seem to go against the mainstream ideals of the culture that we are living in, we automatically get slapped with a label that works to belittle or devalue the conscientious decisions that we are making. The hippie movement advocated many admirable ways of living: nonviolence, connection with the earth and emphasis on community, but it was also a reactive social movement. The decisions I make as a mother are not reactive; they are thoughtful.
You should check out the whole article, but I was especially struck by that last line. Why does being thoughtful about the way that we live equate to being a hippie? She goes on to say that it's time to stop labeling one another and to start really engaging with each other, as that's the only way that real understanding can take place. I couldn't agree more.