10 ways Mennonites are like hipsters

Mar 20, 2015 by

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I’m not the first person to notice a certain similarity between Mennonite culture and hipsterism. Google “hipster Mennonite” and you come up with lots of clever folk out there who have noticed a certain superficial visual similarity. Admittedly, there are also a few differences. Never mind about those.

Here’s my list, in classic countdown format, of ways in which Mennonites are like hipsters, or hipsters are like Mennonites. Actually, since we’ve been around longer, I have a certain suspicion that behind every great hipster is a Mennonite tastemaker whispering snide anti-consumerist rhetoric into her or his ear.

10. Hipsters and Mennonites don’t drive cars. Ha! No, that’s wrong. I’m pretty much the only Mennonite I know who doesn’t drive a car. Lots of Mennonites drive cars and there’s nothing in the Confession of Faith from a Mennonite Perspective to suggest that fixie bikes are better. But some Mennonites are also anti-car or only drive black cars.

images9. Plaid. Mennonites have been rocking plaid for way longer than hipsters.

8. Obscure musical tastes. Hipsters listen to bands that no one has heard of and like to attend music festivals. Mennonites also have obscure musical tastes. We sing hymns a lot, and not just in church. Some of them are pretty obscure hymns. We gather at Mennonite Assemblies. (We also have our own indie Mennonite scene where hipster and Menno eerily converge).

7. D.I.Y. (do it yourself). Would Etsy even exist without hipsters? I don’t know how many Mennonites are on Etsy, but I do know that Mennonites have been sewing, quilting, canning, pickling and decorating their homes with mason jars and wildflowers for long enough to make it something of a doctrinal tenet.

6. Facial hair. Sure, hipsters might be more flamboyant in their facial hair, but Mennonite men have sported beards for decades, paying very little heed to fashion trends around them — something that hipsters apparently appreciate. In fact, that leads us to:

5. Anti-fashionistas. Hipsters like to wear clothes that are considered unattractive in mainstream culture. Oh, man, can we ever trump you there. Mennonites have whole branches of the church that specialize in this.

thriftlogo24. The fetishization of thrift. Hipsters shop at thrift stores, drink cheap beer, go to free events and are known for their cheapness. It’s almost dogma for them. But, well, it is dogma for us. We call it stewardship. We even have our very own thrift shops. It’s a hipster kind of place.

3. Countercultural. We don’t like mainstream culture either. Even if most of us are middle class, too, and are part of the very culture that we deride. Just like hipsters.

2. Smug. Sometimes (pretty much all the time), hipsters are accused of thinking they are better than everyone else but, you know, trying to live according to their principles. Every now and then, Mennonites are accused of this too. If you didn’t know that, you just don’t know enough about Mennonites.

1. And the number one way in which Mennonites are like hipsters is: we’re not too keen on the label. We all know this is true for hipsters, but a lot of Mennonites are also pretty darned ambivalent about embracing the Mennonite label when they are out and about in the world at large. The limitations of labels, the misperceptions — hipster brothers and sisters, we hear you!

Sherri Klassen is a writer and hipster-observer living in Toronto, Ont., where she is a member of Toronto United Mennonite Church.

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