By: Sierra Singleton
What is a hippie? What do you think of when you think of hippies and hippie culture? According to urban dictionary a hippie is “Someone who doesn’t take life seriously, preferring to go on about peace and love, take lots of drugs and doing lots of ‘free love’. Your stereotypical hippie has long hair, smells bad, speaks in a slurred way and is never even slightly mentally focused.” Granted I wouldn’t consider urban dictionary as a credible source and I’m not a hippie, but I definitely took issue with this definition and I wanted to know if anyone else took issue with it as well. So what did I do? I took it to the streets of Morgantown! I walked up and down High St for an hour, stopping random people asking the same questions as above before sitting and talking to a good friend of mine who considers himself a hippie. My adventure was fruitful but sometimes disturbing.
“This definition is so exaggerated but there is some truth to it. I couldn’t imagine a hippie that didn’t like drugs” said Gina, a random jogger I ran into when starting my way down High St. When I asked Gina if she knew any hippies, her response was “no”. For the next hour I got a variety of answers ranging from this definition being totally accurate to some people being just plain disturbed by it. Mariah, a cashier at a retail chain store says, “This definition perpetrates a disgusting hippie stereotype that isn’t true. But when you think of it, every culture, ethnicity, and race has a stereotype associated with them that isn’t true. It’s just how things are but it’s disgusting none the less.”
So where does this stereotype come from and what does it mean for the hippies in Morgantown?
The random jogger Gina says, “I’ve watched movies that portray hippies
and some TV shows. Again I know it’s exaggerated but it is based in some truth. Right?” My friend Trey explains, “It’s because of definitions like this and this stereotype about hippies that I don’t want people in my personal life. This definition is insulting but unfortunately it holds true for a lot of people. I work with some of those people and I don’t want them in my personal life. I’m not ashamed to call myself a hippie but there are people who really dislike us and I don’t know why.”
If you go by the stereotype, Trey is not your stereotypical hippie. “I have a 9-5. I’m clean shaven with a small ponytail, I shower everyday, and I hate long beards. I tried it once and it wasn’t for me at all!” So what makes him a hippie? Trey smiles, “my parents were hippies and their parents were hippies and so forth.” Trey describes what being a hippie is for him saying, “Being a hippie in the 60s and being one now are two completely different things and I don’t think people outside of the hippie community know that. I’m a hippie because my ideals are different than the norm. I try to base my life on what they believed in the 60s, I’m just up to date and realistic about how that can be applied in 2016.”
When asked how being a hippie affects him in Morgantown, Trey smiles and says, “Morgantown is really accepting of the hippie culture. The people that make up the hippie community here are really great and I’ve made some true friends here. The problem comes when I step out of that community. That’s when I get the sideways glances and turned up faces because I’m supposed to smell bad and some people just flat out stare like I’m some kind of anomaly. I think it’s hilarious but that could bother others.”
When discussing other hippies in Morgantown, Trey says, “We are well aware about the stereotypes that are out there about us but in Morgantown, it’s really not that bad. I think it’s because there is a hippie community here already and successful hippie based businesses like Blue Moose Café. I’ve lived other places where they weren’t so accepting of hippies but Morgantown isn’t one of those places. You get a few rude ones every now and then though. Just thank heavens I’m comfortable in my own skin and those rude people don’t bother me.”