Help! I might be a middle-aged hipster!

Dear Wendy,

I was listening to Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio this morning on my way to my workout.

He was talking about hipsters in Brooklyn—apparently this has become a thing lately. (So lately that you probably haven’t heard about it. That’s okay. It’s kind of obscure.) As Jian and his guest discussed some of the tell-tale symptoms of hipsterism, I started getting a little nervous, and had to pull over to compose myself.

Because as they talked about indie bands and DIY culture and organic vegetables and such, I had the startling and horrifying realization that they were talking about me.

When I got home, I immediately ran to my computer (not a Mac, phew! though I do own an iPhone…and an iPad) and Googled “signs you might be a hipster.”

Wendy, the results were not encouraging.

For starters, it’s well known that Canadian hipsters (no, that’s not an oxymoron, thankyouverymuch) have pretty much acclaimed Jian Ghomeshi, the very one I was listening to, as their annointed king. Strike one.

English: Jian Ghomeshi hosting a live taping o...

Jian, CBC Radio icon. Been watching this dude since before he was famo…oh, never mind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, I drink massive generous amounts of coffee. Yes, I grind my own beans. In a vintage burr grinder that I got second-hand. Yes, I always buy fair-trade certified beans, and yes, usually organic.

When I do buy pre-made coffee, I patronize obscure indie coffee shops in out-of-the-way locations. Starbucks is my supplier of last resort, and I’d rather drink lukewarm dishwater than Tim Hortons. I have never in my entire life ordered a double-double, nor do I plan to.


Just say no to Tim’s.

This is starting to sound serious, agreed?

As for the DIY ethic, I’m right there, baby. Not only do I knit my own clothing (and the clothing of pretty much anyone nearby who stands still long enough), not only do I insist on using only natural fibres, but I prefer spinning my own yarn.

In fact, I’ve been known to take an entire fleece (just sheared off a locally raised sheep), wash it, card it, spin it, dye it, and knit it, using patterns I make up in my head. Because I can.


Yarn I spin myself. On my first wheel. Yes, I have two. And yes, that is my bare foot down there.

On the plus side, I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I do buy organic vegetables, and when the farmer’s markets are open here, you’ll find me perusing the stalls and carrying off cartons of free-range eggs and burgers made from organically raised free range elk. Look, it just tastes better, okay? Plus I like knowing where my food comes from.


I don’t have muttonchop sideburns. Maybe that’s a gender thing, though.

Oh, and I use Purple Urchin soap…and their solid shampoo, which is amazing and contains no sulphates and is made by these really cool people with a store in a little house in Chinatown…right near the Bridgehead coffee roastery. And Raw Sugar, my favourite coffee hangout.

My favourite PU soap? You got it: Patchouli & Lime.

Wait—hang on. Possible mitigating factor: I don’t shop in thrift stores! That’s got to count in my favour. Aren’t hipsters renowned for their thrift-shop chic? Oh! And I’m not skinny. Nor do I wear skinny jeans. That’s a required part of Hipster Regalia, right?

On the other hand, I do have totally rad glasses.


Oh, and a handknit slouchy hat. Right. Forgot about that.

And yes, I just used the word “rad.” Ironically, of course.

Also, I hate wearing clothes with identifiable (especially designer) labels—I figure if I’m going to provide some multi-national corporation with free advertising, they should be paying me to wear their clothes. I refuse to buy from stores that hype their own labels, especially since most of their stuff is made from non-sustainable materials, in Asian sweatshops. (Plus, I could make it better myself, see above.)

Oh, shit. This is just going from bad to worse, isn’t it?

As for music…well, I’ve always liked kind of obscure bands. Remember my Steeleye Span phase? I liked them back when all the other high schoolers were rocking out to Kiss and Elton John. Whom I reviled for being so mainstream. Gah! And I started listening to The Decemberists and Of Monsters and Men before my kids did. Oh, plus I own a whole bunch of vinyl albums (which I would never think of calling “records”), and a very nice turntable.

I have an Instagram account. And I use it. I mean, seriously, dude.

I think I’m pretty much doomed.

I wouldn’t be so concerned about all this if hipsters weren’t such a universally reviled group. (Even more so than baby boomers, which I also am.) Because really, who wants to be associated with a bunch of smug, self-indulgent, self-righteous, self-consciously hip individuals? Not me, that’s for sure.

And yet…I guess I just have to face facts. Despite my lack of skinny jeans (or skinny anything, actually), my relatively scrupulous personal hygiene, and the fact that I drive a car rather than riding my Amsterdam-style bike everywhere, I am pretty sure I’m a middle-aged hipster.

Oh, the shame of it all. I’m thinking we should just keep this between you and me, okay? I’d hate for word to get out—after all, I have kids, a husband, a family.

Maybe if we keep it on the QT, no one will catch on. Maybe I’ll be able to keep passing as a middle-class, middle-aged bourgeois woman with odd glasses, who’s just a wee bit eccentric when it comes to wool. So listen, if anyone asks you if your sister’s a hipster, just smile and say, “No, we prefer to think of her as ‘just a little bit unconventional.'”

Thanks. I owe you one.




  1. Uh-oh… you mentioned a bunch of stuff that just reaffirms that I’m a total hipster. Hilarious post!

  2. It does sound like a pretty convincing argument that you may in fact be a hipster. Don’t worry though, I – like your sister probably – won’t tweet this out to the world or share it in any other rapidly transmitting way. You secret is safe with me. #karensahipster #passiton

  3. Oh, frig. It seems I, too, may be a borderline boomer hipster (a boomster?) I’m not skinny either, but I do wear skinny jeans (mostly to mess with my kids’ minds). I don’t spin or knit (or tackle sheep) but I’m definitely experiencing a hefty DIY phase. I’m not ready to come out of the closet on this so will keep it under my (hand knit slouchy) hat for now. If you need to chat …

  4. I’m afraid to say but I think you are totally busted a a hipster and can we please, please see more knitwear and looms?

  5. Thanks, Pam! Enjoy that latte. #youmightbeonetoo

  6. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my husband a couple years ago: you’re not young enough to be a hipster. You’re just an oldster.

  7. Actually I think you may be the original hipster. Always good to start a trend instead of trailing one. Can I have a hat?

  8. Hipster or hoopster, you’re A-OK in my book. :)

  9. I wonder who our “anointed king” hipster is here in the US? Who’s our Jian Ghomeshi?

  10. Well I’ve got that HIP part….I’m almost with ya!

  11. Is a hipster like a beatnik? I guess I really don’t live in modern times…

  12. OMG! You ARE a hipster! Quick! Go to Walmart and buy pre-ground Folgers coffee and a bottle of Jergens body wash, go home, and scrub yourself until the hipster comes off.

    NOTE: This might take a while. It looks like you have a pretty seriously case of hipster-itis.

  13. I think it’s rad that you do all that stuff! Oops..I said ‘rad’too!

  14. Your secret is safe with me :)

  15. OMG! I love this, you hipster you! You are totally rad!!

  16. Okay, this is one of the coolest blogs I’ve ever read. Hahaha! (My daughter (14) has been using this term, “hipster” lately…you know, “so and so thinks he’s a hipster,” and “Oh, that guy is such a hipster.” So on and so forth. Being the want- to- be in the game mom that I am, I just nod my head and go along like I know what she’s talking about. Guess what I was really thinking to myself as this term “hipster” was being thrown about in conversation…”What the heck is a hipster anyway?” Well, miss spun knit Karen, I want to thank you for clarifying this mystery of the hipster for me! LOL! You are one cool lady. Hipster or not. I’ve got a little hipster in me too, but I don’t knit. I crochet and buy my yarn at Beverly’s. 😉

  17. Not quite middle aged but I’m a total hipster and like i mentioned in the #SITSSharefest – I love to embarrass my beautiful teenage daughter. :) It’s the circle of life.

    • I think it’s axiomatic that if you are a hipster, you embarrass your kids. Especially if you refer to yourself as a hipster. Loud, proud, and often–that’s my motto! (Okay, it isn’t really, because I just thought of it, but it should be.)

  18. dishofdailylife

    April 6, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Hmmm…I don’t know if I am a hipster…I’ll have to google it! I don’t drink coffee, but I do go out of my way for organic. I like natural ingredient hair and skin care products too…I just like what I like!

  19. I think you make a convincing case. You are a hipster. But your blog is still cool. And I’m right there behind you. What does “middle age” officially begin anyway?

    • Middle age officially begins one year past whatever age I happen to be.
      Actually, I think it’s something like 45+? But hey, it’s just a label. I’ve known middle-aged two-year-olds.

  20. The key thing that’s keeping you from being a hipster: your motivation is unrelated to your generation or your effort to fit a niche. You’re the original that the hipsters want to be (and that has nothing to do with age, don’t worry). And as a gal from the US, who gets weird looks when she references Jian, know that you’re not alone!

  21. Bwahaha. This is just too funny! I am slightly hipster (read: I have and use Instagram, own a pair of skinny jeans, and have an iPhone) but fortunately I am not hardcore hipster. It’s possible I’m in denial but I don’t see any other signs I am. I think I’m safe…for now.

    Great post! Glad I found you via SITS!

    • So…this makes me wonder: is the world ready for a Hipster-o-meter? You know, “How Hipster Are You”? Wheels are turning….
      And I’m glad you found us, too! Today was my first foray into the SITS chat, and it was hugely fun. :)

  22. Ha ha ha! Why is being a hipster so rife at the moment? Everyone talks about hipsters and indies as if they are the newest thing since sliced bread. I do admit to seeking out good coffee however and I love hanging out at some of those coffee shops that are decorated with “shabby chic” or pre-loved furnishings! Does that mean I’m a hipster too??

  23. I can really only speak to the music part, and I make no apologies there. I know more hip bands than a lot of the young people do because a) I’ve been around longer and understand context and influences and b) kids are idiots when it comes to music. So there. And I’m not being ironic.

    • LOL… That, plus I listen to Q on CBC. Pissed my daughter off mightily when I told her one of her favourite bands had an album just out…and she hadn’t heard about it yet. “STOP LISTENING TO MY MUSIC!”

  24. No one does Hipster like Canadian Women. Maybe because of our crushes on Jian.

  25. Thank God I can’t knit or do much DIY, nor do I shop in thrift shops. Otherwise, I’d be in danger too:) There must be a 12-step program for this . . .

  26. And, if the young people find out that middle aged people are hipsters, they will quit doing all the right stuff. Darn!

    Oh by the way, I love the hat!


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