I was 13-years-old when I stumbled across Pinterest on the app store, of My school iPad.
I swiftly downloaded the app and soon stumbled upon what would become the defining characteristic of my fashion sense for the next 6 years — cottagecore.
If you have spent any time on the great expanse of the internet in the last decade, you have probably come across the term, ‘cottagecore.’ Whether it be on TikTok, Pinterest or Tumblr, you most likely have seen or heard the word, but what does it mean?
Cottagecore is an aesthetic popularised on Tumblr in the mid 2010’s by teenagers. It is built around seeking a simpler life away from the hustle and bustle of cities and urban areas.
Urban Dictionary defines the term as being “centred on ideas of simple living and harmony with nature.”
Visual themes for the aesthetic are often floral and dainty, while also being very clean, rustic and hyper feminine.
The movement often ignores the realities of farm life in favour of hyper fixating on the more pleasant parts, like growing flowers, preparing bouquets, and baking. Many often fantasise about selling crafts at farmers markets to sustain themselves.
Just one look at the #cottagecore tag on TikTok will bring up videos of people baking and embroidering. There is however a distinct lack of other activities such as tilling soil, harvesting crops and spreading slurry.
Many people find the fantasies of the online cottagecore movement to be unrealistic and idealistic. While it is easy to find pictures of pretty ladies sitting in fields of flowers in flowing white dresses, we don’t very often see those same women attempt to remove the grass stains from their clothes.
There is a distinct lack of the harsh realities of farm life the cottagecore movement claims to crave. We, in Ireland know all too well the smell of slurry and the image of middle aged farmers wearing worn down wellies caked in dirt. It is a far cry from the cottagecore dreamscape many online content creators claim to know so well.
However, as with everything there are two sides to every coin….
There are those who understand the realities of farm life are not as cottagecore as much of 2016 Tumblr would have you believe. Many enjoy the aesthetic for the sole purpose of escapism and fashion, such as myself particularly with the latter.
In no way, do I wish to work on a farm, tilling soil and birthing calves. I do, however, enjoy pretty flowy dresses and floral pattern designs. The fashion style that comes along with cottagecore, has had me in its tightly gripped fist ever since I first downloaded Pinterest back in 2016.
Along with the fashion sense comes hand in hand, the design style for teenage bedrooms.
It only takes searching “teen bedroom aesthetic” on Pinterest, for pictures of ivy covered walls with pale white sheets, and collage walls including mushrooms and fairies to appear. These are all key elements of the cottagecore movement.
Especially during 2020 when the covid-19 pandemic shook the world, people began to turn back to nature in hopes to better ground themselves. People even went so far as to start playing video games like animal crossing and stardew valley, both games based in nature, to try and feel closer to the natural world they could no longer explore. Even just the word cottagecore has gotten over 1,862,000 searches of google in just the past year.
It is also not historically unheard of for those with the means to do so creating their own cottagecore wonderland. Marie Antoinette is a perfect example. In 1783 Queen Marie Antoinette commissioned for the Hameau de la Reine to be built. It was an expansive fake peasant dwelling, fitted with a boudoir, dairy, windmill, barn, tower, and a fisherman’s cottage.
This purpose built facade was specifically for Marie Antoinette’s own relaxation. She would visit and pretend she herself was a peasant enjoying the simple country life she assumed they had. She at the very essence of things built her own cottagecore paradise for her escapism.
However, we can’t all build purpose built fake peasant farms to live out our wildest dreams.
Most of us will have to content ourselves without clothing and bedrooms.
It isn’t hard to see why in an age of technology, we have begun to long for the natural world we have left behind.
Sorcha Rose Mc Groarty
Image Credit: Sorcha Rose Mc Groarty