The Cottagecore subculture offers escapist fantasies of a slower and more pastoral way of life.
#grandmacore #farmcore #cosylife #countrylife #happyathome #foraging #thrifting . These are all common hashtags you might find on a social media post from someone in the cottagecore community. Cottagecore is a growing subculture with an affinity to nature, feminine vintage clothing, self sufficiency and a yearning for a simpler way of life in the countryside. Cottagecore posts on TikTok or Instagram share tips on foraging for edible plants in the wild, how to make or customise thrifted clothing or how to make your own preserves at home. And its popularity is growing. While posts tagged as cottagecore can be found dating back as far as 2018, there has been a recent growing interest and affinity with the aesthetic and what it represents. As instagrammer @wanderingfolkcottage told me:
“ I think Cottagecore is gaining traction and appealing to Millennials and Gen Z because they see that there is an opportunity to strive for a more subtle and meaningful way of life rather than going the way of the norm of a 9-5 job and becoming disconnected from your surroundings.” @wanderingfolkcottage
Cottagecore and Covid
At the heart of Cottagecore is a desire to escape the pressures of modern life, an overly negative news cycle and the culture of measuring our worth by productivity. And what would you want to escape from more than a global pandemic? With Covid-19 bringing countrywide lockdowns and millions of people being confined to their homes there was an increase in particular activities like baking, gardening and crafting and we all had to get used to a different kind of social life. Self confessed introverts took to social media to joke about how their favoured lifestyle was now becoming popular. And for many, Cottagecore became an appealing concept.
Instagrammers @lilith.bbyz and @wanderingfolkcottage told me why they thought Cottagecore was getting more of a spotlight during lockdown:
“People have been learning about it because isolating means they have been trying more hobbies that would be associated with Cottagecore. I think the pandemic means people are generally doing more things that bring them true happiness in a stressful time!” @lilith.bbyz
“I think that the Covid-19 pandemic has rewired us. We have always depended on money, grocery stores and jobs to find and fuel our lives and we have forgotten how to thrive in our own communities. Now that Covid-19 has forced people to work from home people are seeing that big metropolitan cities are not always ideal for a healthy and long lasting life.” @wanderingfolkcottage
In addition to the impact of self isolation, the growing environmental concerns highlighted by the extinction rebellion and Greta Thunberg in 2019 have greatly impacted young people. A Survey conducted by YouGov in 2019 reported that young people aged 18-24 were increasingly concerned about environmental issues with it being the second most concerning issue facing the UK after Brexit. These environmental concerns also feed into the Cottagecore subculture where there is a focus on lowering consumption, growing your own fruit and vegetables and caring for nature.
Cottagecore as DIY Citizenship
As Tik Tok Creator @bimbotheory puts it “One of my favourite things about Cottagecore is that it promotes a relationship oriented mindset rather than a material oriented mindset”. It is this sentiment that lies at the heart of DIY Citizenship. Social media is a space where people can convene around these shared desires to be less consumerist, liberated and grow in their skills together. It’s not surprising that DIY movements first became associated with the counterculture of the 1960s as it, in many ways, rejects the idea that you overcome problems by paying someone else to deal with them (Gauntlett, 2011). Cottagecore fits with this counter culture narrative, with a desire to reject the expectations of modern society.
Cottagecore offers escapism from these modern day expectations - or at least connects you with those who also fantasise about escapism. While it may not be possible to quit your job and move out of the city into an idyllic cottage in the countryside to raise hens and grow your own veg and make all your clothes and bake fresh loaves in an old Aga each morning, Instagrammer Lilith pointed out that it is possible to adopt some of these activities into our lifestyle and that by doing so, and connecting with like minded others, it can feel rewarding:
“As a kid my parents would take me to the Welsh countryside and Cottagecore brings back good memories of my childhood. I live in a town, but doing simple things like baking, sewing and tending to the garden and houseplants you’re able to incorporate Cottagecore into your daily life. It’s also a really open and accepting community regardless of gender, race, body types etc… everyone is welcome” @lilith.bbyz
As people incorporate elements associated with the subculture into their daily lives, Cottagecore is offering a new focus on slower living. This could be the antidote many young people have sought for the pressurised ‘hustle culture’ mentality that has dominated social media in recent years. Cottagecore offers an alternative mentality to being driven by our measurable output, instead valuing our relationships and happiness. Perhaps we can all benefit from slowing down a little and adopting elements of the Cottagecore lifestyle in order to benefit our collective health and wellbeing.
Gauntlett, D. (2011) Making is Connecting, The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge: Polity Press.