Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hipster parents are all over the damned place these days, and it's starting to make me a little crazy. Not because my own biological imperative is counting down - it sort of is, but not with any real urgency - but because all these parents are, like, my age. If not a little younger. It's like all the hipster babes are having hipster babies. The cycle continues, and hipsters, if nothing else, are a little boring.

The same way I take umbrage at the now-passe "Storm, the genderless baby" debacle, the idea of hipster children is both fascinating and a little repulsive. Where you fall on that continuum can likely be predicted by where you live, how old you are, and how big your dress-up box is. Babies are among the most helpless creatures in the animal kingdom, requiring constant care and attention; as a result, they rely on their parents for everything from changing their faux-denim diapers to spoon-feeding them organic homemade vindaloo sweet potato puree. Besides, in theory, there's nothing wrong with swaddling your kids in Hanna Andersson and riding them around on the Zapp. One doesn't need Dora the Explorer emblazoned on an article of clothing to make it child-friendly.

Is dressing your kids like a short version of yourself a good thing? The adorableness runs high for toddlers clad in Sonic Youth teeshirts (oh, irony!), or little girls in Nine Inch Nails onesies, for sure. Better yet, hipsters didn't even invent the kids-as-adults fashion; they're just following a retro trend. Children were often clothed in the fashions of their parents: think of those grim-faced children posing a hundred years ago. They're not wearing rompers and Disney tee shirts - they look like tiny versions of the grim-faced adults propping them up.

Then came the 1950s, when kids started having their own TV shows, merchandise, concerts and movies. Em Oh You Ess Ee, right? When we were kids, it was Sesame Street, Ninja Turtles and the Planeeters, plastered on duotangs and lunchboxes and party plates. It was easy to see what was for kids, and there was serious industry in selling me that branded merchandise. The same way that today's children get Cars backpacks, and their parents get to buy them.

But as we grew up and had some kids, the lines were suddenly blurred. Because we're still wearing our Ninja Turtles tee shirts. We're listening to Florence and the Machine and the babies are loving it, and there are dance playlists by kids, and American Apparel has infant's clothes (even as they reluctantly branch out into the plus sizes). It's become easier and easier to just scale down our tastes when we shop for the babies. And businesses are happy to oblige: most fashion houses have pint-sized versions of their lines, and others cater exclusively to the stroller cabal.

Only time will tell if I'll have hipster babies. My "aesthetic," if I can be assy enough to say that I have one, is pretty second-hand and DIY, but not to the point where I preserve my own beets or anything. If someone gave me a Beastie Boys toddler shirt, though, I would lose my mind (and blame the pregnancy hormones) and promptly dress my chilluns in the clothes of my choosing. When they're of outfit-picking age, I'm sure they'll be excited about branding and I'll roll my eyes at their choices, but banning the little moppets from picking something they like? That's not very hip, is it?

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