From the Tiger King to Baking Bread, throughout the past six months of the Coronavirus pandemic, countless trends have come and gone to help us deal with quarantine. Popularized often recently through social media platforms such as TikTok, these trends have been quick to start and even shape our consumer culture as we know it. They act as a sort of much-needed escape from reality during these difficult times.
The most recent and moving of these trends has been the inclusion of the Cottagecore aesthetic, emphasizing that escape from the typical 21st century world. Imagine being placed inside some sort of pastoral painting: that is cottagecore. According to the Huffington Post, cottagecore, also known as farmcore or countrycore, is an aesthetic that began at the beginning of the last decade. A subreddit describes the trend as “your grandma, but like hip.”
Cottagecore is centered around what you would imagine living in a cottage in the countryside would be like, including gardening, greenery, floral prints, flowy dresses, and animals. All fitting the depiction of how it would feel to live and fit in on a farm.
This hyper-specific aesthetic has been the standout hit for 2020 for the same reason for everything else in 2020 -- idle homemaking became less about escapism and more about inescapable reality. In a sense it, according to a Vox article, “became a way to spin the terror and drudgery into something adorable -- and internist in it directly correlated to how bad it became outside.” It allows for you to take your mind off of everything going on, looking back on a simpler time, a time that was less complex and less uncertainty.
And it also seems that as COVID-19 cases spike, Cottagecore spikes right alongside with it. From early March to early April, the cottagecore hashtag jumped 153 percent; comparatively likes on these posts were up 541 percent.
In addition, as the seasons have progressed, so has the content. For example, in April, at-home activities such as cooking and embroidering were popular, while in June and July it was wildflower fields and picnics.
But what is cottagecore based on?
Joe Vaughan, digital editor of the Museum of English Rural Life pins the French queen Marie Antoinette as an “icon” in the formation of the cottagecore aesthetic. In the late 18th century, Antoinette commissioned the construction of a rustic retreat in the greenery outside the Palace of Versailles. Similarly to the other worldliness of the trend today, these cottages gave her the feeling of escapism which was not far from the palace grounds.
According to Vaughan in an NPR interview, she would play the part of a shepherdess, alongside real servants, farm workers and milkmaids, a “pastoral nostalgia for a simple life [that] is simply not reflective of lived experience.” These pastoral ideals are not just something that was made up on the spot, but instead their indulgences have precedence in history.
Cottagecore also strives, while being somewhat reminiscent of imagery found in films like Pride and Prejudice and Little Women, on inclusivity, not just acting as a trend for cis white women. The trend takes on the old form while including people of all races, sexualities and genders, reclaiming a part of history that has refused to recognize them.
Noemie Sérieux, creator of @cottagecoreblackgirls, shares in a recent Glamour interview that her reason behind the creation of this community was “The reason I wanted a vision board with Black women living the cottagecore aesthetic is that there’s almost a message in seeing images of people who don’t look like you enjoying the life you want and that message is: You don’t belong here.” And her goal was to change that message to inform people that no, you do belong here, everyone belongs here.
She is not alone in making cottagecore more inclusive; the concept of the “cottagecore lesbian” trend took off on TikTok. While the trend is based on older traditions, many who are partaking in the trend, especially those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, are attempting to reject toxic masculinity and objectification. What if we were able to go back in time before major industry took over the world, but also added protections for marginalized queer communities, states Katherine Gillespie of Paper Magazine. This is a movement to live in simplicity, but without the negative aspects of that simplicity: to live as if there are no problems in the world and as if everyone were accepted for who they are.
The movement and trend of Cottagecore culture allows people of all races, sexualities, and genders to live the simple, pastoral life to escape from the pandemic and other negative aspects of the world. While trends may come and go, it seems that, at least for a little while, Cottagecore is here to stay.