Monday, February 15, 2021



Cottagecore (also known under the name Farmcore or Countrycore) is an aesthetic inspired by a romanticized interpretation of western agricultural life. It is centered on ideas around a more simple life and harmony with nature. Specific themes associated are the survival of the environment, food, and caring for people. While the aesthetic is predominant on several social media sites, such as on Instagram and more recently TikTok, the community notably prospers on Tumblr. It is particularly popular within the *WLW community.

Despite a number of its followers taking an often progressive and subversive outlook on life, Cottagecore has been also criticized for its romanticism of eurocentric farming life. It has also been criticized in the context of North American and Australian settings, It is due to these connotations that the use of Cottagecore aesthetics has been adopted by the TradWives community and members of the far-right as forms of propaganda. This has led to media criticism despite their opposition to LGBTQ+ and anti-capitalist adherents of Cottagecore.

*woman loving woman

   I was turned onto this phenomenon a few years back. Before the internet grabbed it, magazines like Upstate Diary and DV8 had identified and targeted this susceptible audience of future Cottagecore acolytes. (see: This mindset of country falsity aimed at the urbanite has stuck in my craw for some time. 

    One of the earliest proponents of this fantasy lifestyle were the painters McDermott and McGough. These two cats lived in the same neighbor I did- the Alphabet City of the 1980's. They dressed and lived the part of "Victorian era" artists. As the rest of us were banging on our pipes for more heat, bundled up in Gortex waiting at the ATM in order to get cash to cop drugs, M&M were dressed in top hats trying to get that signature "crackle" on their paintings in a cold water flat. The successful painters aestheticized those "simpler times" as luddite dandies; pioneers of Cottagecore. 

    Fast forward 30 years: The groundwork laid by magazines, real estate agents and upstate chambers of commerce have taken the fantasy of Cottagecore and run with it during the time of a global pandemic. " inadvertent celebration of the aesthetics of colonialism, as well as the ways it often simplifies and underestimates the labor of farmers." There is nothing "inadvertent" about spreading this. Melania Trump in her bwana styling in Africa could not be more tone deaf. 

    I would propose a more realistic approach to country living, something I call Hickcore. The past week I've lived on a big pot of rabbit and beans. Dressed in a ratty bathrobe, holey slippers and long johns, I grab the pot of frozen rabbit from the back porch and place it on the wood stove as the coffee boils. A bloody rib cage from last month's deer hangs from a tree branch, serving as a bird feeder. Woodpeckers, chickadees, buntings and a big flicker spend most of their daylight hours gnawing the meat and suet off the bones. As the icicles creep towards the interior walls of my house I have to climb up on the roof to shovel off a foot of snow. I DO NOT do any of these tasks in period clothing or romanticize the process. The closest I get to adhering to a 19th century aesthetic is loading my muzzle loader and shooting a deer. It is not some vintage flintlock, but a scoped, modern rifle that loads down the barrel. Who needs coonskin caps and fringe jackets when the freezer is empty?

   I will resist naming the names of those I know who engage in the Cottage Core practices of raising chickens, obsessive bread baking, prancing through the clover in diaphanous granny dresses, spinning yarn from rabbits (instead of making stew) and knitting mittens from the family dog. You know who you are. I love you all. Some live it honestly. Others package and sell the lifestyle. It's just not my thing. Why romanticize hardship and commodify a way of life that doesn't exist? It's a fantasy. There's nothing romantic about frozen pipes, chicken killing foxes and empty cupboards. My outhouse never clogs up and when I run out of toilet paper I make do. My suggestion to Upstate Diary would be to print on a little softer paper. We in the hickcore community would appreciate it. 

     Back to nature movements are nothing new. The antipastoralism of Thomas Cole was misinterpreted and sold back to urbanite Americans as a call to come to the country for a visit in the 19th Century. Bring your pocketbook. Look at those vistas!!!! The servants will prepare a picnic lunch. In the sixties the hippies formed communes from Cali to Alaska. Few survive. The lifestyle was too much for most. Cottagecore is being used in exactly the same way. It is propaganda not reflective of the reality of frozen toes, chimney fires, cold toilet seats and unending winters. Stay home, warm those fingers on your laptop and play Animal Crossing. There's nothing aesthetic about my dull chainsaw blade or ice clogged drains. Just wait, Tenementcore may be next.                     


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