There has been a lot of social misconceptions of the word ‘hippie’ nowadays due to how the mainstream idea likes to portray them.
When someone brings them up, most people would automatically think of recycling-obsessed Caucasians in loose floral clothing’s, smoking blunts, meditating in circles, playing with hacky sacks, and appropriating dreamcatchers. They have been misrepresented day in and day out that their purpose has lost its meaning– especially to those who are recently self-proclaimed hippies.
There is more to them than just flowery psychedelic aesthetic and doing peace signs in front of the camera.
They were a movement.
It all dates back to the mid 1960’s when a countercultural movement bloomed its way into the United States that encouraged the Flower Power movement through passive resistance and non-violent beliefs. The youth at the time were fed up with the need to conform to what society considered ‘acceptable’ of their generation. They rejected the conventional American standards.
Instead of young boys following the strict program of the masculine hierarchy, they decided to believe that men should not be restricted to mere physical strength and dominance. Instead of young girls wearing tight pointed high-heeled shoes and behaving like how a pious lady should behave, they chose to go barefoot or wear sandals and freely express their liberal sexuality.
To them, it was all about making love, not war.
And their ideology started to spread all across the world.
They encouraged open-mindedness and tolerance to almost everything society was against from racial equality to the LGBT community. Although the latter was not as generally accepted by the start of their movement, they progressed greatly throughout the years until the term “free love” was something that was often used by their members.
Some of them (artists, mostly) even moved to Ibiza, or as they liked to call it The Magic Island where they lived in field houses that were open to be shared to anyone seeking warmth, shelter, and harmony. This was where they started establishing small businesses that catered to other hippies by selling handmade jewelries, sandals, belts, and clothes. This was also where their shared interest in psychedelic folk rock music (such as Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd) originated.
They earned the name “hippie” from the word hipster which was originally used to represent beatniks (young people who were associated with the beat generation) at the time.
But it was their forthright defiance and passive resistance against the United States’ engagement in the Vietnam War and their strong advocacy for shared civil rights that gave them this new voice of activism.
They didn’t clothe themselves in flowery outfits and sang and smile just to stay optimistic (although optimism was a bonus)– they did these things to overthrow the idea of war with peace and love to the public and to their soldiers. Male hippies refused to register for the draft and be sent to war in spite of the harsh disapproval they received from society.
They handed out flowers and sang buoyant yet empowering songs to encourage genuine harmony among their countrymen. Because of this, they were also entitled to the name “flower children”.
One of their most memorable forces of activism was their march on the Pentagon.
Locking arms with liberals, black nationalists, women’s groups, and war veterans; 100,000 people initiated a peaceful rally on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967 in pursuit of ending the war in Vietnam. Chaos transpired when the more radical side of their rally went up against the 2,500 soldiers that blocked their path.
Nevertheless, the hippies remained firm in their belief of fighting war with peace and they did so by placing small flowers over the soldiers’ guns and refusing to let their faith wilt before them.
By the mid 1970’s, their movement had eased down but simply due to the fact that America was finally out of Vietnam and civil rights had been approved in federal legislation. Now they have given a fresh path to the new generation of hippies known as the young urban professionals, or yuppies.
But even until now, the hippie culture still maintains an enormous level of influence to today’s society such as openness to the subject of sex and having great care for the environment.
They are still more than what the mainstream media tends to portray them as.