AN EXPLORATION OF MODERNIZED DREAMINESS
The picturesque cottagecore aesthetic reigns supreme across a plethora of social media platforms, — its massive popularity proliferated by its recent prevalence on TikTok. Cottagecore is characterized by natural, pastoral beauty, and fairytale imagery, which manifests in wonders of floral gardens, vintage dresses, porcelain teacups and the iconography of fairies and goblins.
The widespread appeal of cottagecore stems from the trend’s fantastical embodiment of unburdening oneself from the convolutions of modern society and escaping to the countryside for a life of baking, arts and crafts, farming, and home-making.
The desire for universal escapism predates even the 18th century, during which French queen Marie Antoinette replicated bucolic scenery in her own backyard. However, the current wave of cottagecore modernizes this whimsicality by introducing a new element: progressiveness.
Cottagecore and the LGBTQ+ Community
Many LGBTQ+ youth have fully embraced the subculture, which invites people of all genders and sexualities to participate in traditional femininity. Some sapphic women have become so enamored with cottagecore that #cottagecorelesbians grew into an immensely popular TikTok hashtag. Cottagecore harkens back to the all-lesbian communes of the 1970s, but expands upon their free-spiritedness by being more inclusive of trans and nonbinary people.
Trouble in Paradise
While social justice is celebrated within cottagecore, the community remains overwhelmingly White, and therefore, does not always deliver on its promise of intersectionality. Not only are there very few participants of color, but some people accuse cottagecore of implicitly whitewashing and overvaluing a time period rife with colonialist violence towards indigenous people. Critiques continue, pointing out that the ability to flee to a peaceful life in the woods is a privilege afforded mostly to affluent White men.
A Step in the Right Direction
Nevertheless, cottagecore is not doomed to forever remain racially exclusive, as the small percentage of devotees of color is growing. Some indigenous people implore White people to enjoy cottagecore in a manner that is more respectful to the land’s cultural history, a sentiment that serves as the nucleus of the Tumblr blog, Indigenous Fawn.
Meanwhile, the increasing Black presence is well-documented in @sapphic.daph, an Instagram showcase of Black women engaging in wholesome activities in serene, verdurous settings. Black queer Instagram fashionista Iridesscence found that the term cottagecore was applicable to her own personal style, a foretoken of her future amelioration to the subculture.
Iridesscence echoes the hope that more BIPOC will adopt cottagecore, profoundly informed about how they have been historically integral to agriculture. Additionally, the vast array of Black people like herself becoming involved in the subculture is predictive of the creativity that they will bring to it.