tiny little hipster baby

This is kind of a rant. And it’s really judgmental. So stop reading now if you disapprove of ranting, judgmental people (I know I do).

We were at a little trendy restaurant in our little trendy neighborhood, and a family came in. The guy was wearing a cap and orange shorts and a plaid shirt with a neckerchief and pale blue loafers. He had a stylish beard. The woman looked displeased in her looping, soft dress with patches of fabric that only barely covered her breasts, no back, and enormous sunglasses.


All of that was fine, of course. They were stylin’. But so was their tiny, toddling son.

He was dressed in tiny corduroy pants and a tiny plaid shirt with tiny suspenders and a tiny neckerchief and a tiny conductor’s cap. He was sweaty and unhappy. We were eating outside and it was humid. He was squirming in his hipster-chic outfit, pulling at the suspenders as though he wanted to escape.

And I felt a wave of judgmentalness sweep over me.

The kid looked like a toy. Like a doll. A purse that matched their outfits. How many more miniature sets of Anthropologie clothes did his pouting parents keep at home for him? I hoped he would laugh about it later and roll his eyes. I mean, they weren’t hurting him.

Everyone in this area is having babies. Or has just had them. There are twins everywhere you look. On the elevator, a nanny asked me if I was the mother of twin boys. She thought she recognized me. I have already met three black women who work as nannies in the building, and a Latina who is walking someone’s dog in the building. I have become friendly with Fidel, the handyman, whose daughter is in college at Georgetown and who got his place in Park Slope before the white people moved in. “So many white people,” he says, shaking his head. “But good food.”

I have met one white woman who lives in the building. She was pushing twin boys in a huge, reclining stroller.

New York City is very racially segregated, says the New York Times. It’s surprising just how racially segregated it is, considering how much diversity exists in this city. That’s what the Times’ says.

Sometimes I get the sense that everywhere you go, there are new sets of unspoken rules. It’s not just a sense. It’s real. What you’re supposed to wear, who you’re supposed to be with, how loud you’re allowed to talk. How you’re supposed to dress your baby.

It makes me want to have a baby and let it crawl around naked all the time. It makes me want to talk a little louder. It makes me think about the color of my skin.

Because being Jewish isn’t that interesting or different in this city.

Unlike when I went to Wyoming once, and met a cowboy who had never met a Jew before (I had never met a cowboy before either). He had never heard the word “rabbi.” He would not have fit in with the hipsters or the yuppies or the bobos or the Wall- Streeters or the green movement people.

(Although he could’ve rocked some elements of the hipster outfit. source)

It’s kind of funny that I almost do. That I can at least blend in.

But really, a neckerchief? On a baby? Really?

(and I do like the way glasses like these look. I admit it. source)

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a tight tanktop with no bra.



Kate on August 10th 2011 in life, new york

19 Responses to “tiny little hipster baby”

  1. Emmi responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I doubt that I’ll ever spawn or adopt, but if I do I will make sure that my baby is comfortable above all. That being said, there are some amazingly cute onesies in astronaut and Star Trek and other marvelously geeky themes, and I would probably only dress my baby in stuff like that (they all look super soft and comfy, though). I choose my own clothing based 80% on feel (no joke), so I would absolutely do the same for a wee one. It’s different if you’re putting a hat on the babe for 10 seconds for a picture, but you are absolutely right that children are not accessories.

    My sole co-worker is one of the most racist people I have ever met. She will only refer to nonwhites as “colored”, dripping with derision. This bothers me like crazy. Every time she says it, I grit my teeth and try very hard to remind myself that she is making me mindful of the need for tolerance in society. I have made it clear to her in the past that I am highly uncomfortable with her use of the word, and by her continuing to use it she has made it clear to me that she doesn’t give a shit and is not going to change. I am so very, very glad this woman had no children to poison with such awfulness.

    And this is the time when I think, perhaps I *should* spawn, to try and teach someone that diversity is the best thing about humans. A child my husband and I produce would have blood ties to nine non-USA countries (four from me, five from him). At what point do such things become irrelevant?

    Thanks for the post, I was wondering how it was going in your new neighborhood :)

  2. San D responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I’ll use my sister as an example to my philosophy on babies/kids, as I have none. She always dressed her children to the “nines”, from babyhood on up until they had a fashion sense of their own. Her three children and her all have a high fashion sense, keep their weight down, and are what society would consider “lookers”. Once, at a baby shower for her daughter, she warned that she didn’t want “handmade” stuff for her grandchild, so I didn’t make anything, but gave a bought gift off of a “list” instead. Later at another relative’s baby shower, she loudly lamented “why didn’t you make that for my grandson” when the person opened up my handiwork, completely forgetting her “no homemadeitis” rule. Now, you can imagine how controlling she was at her daughter’s wedding. Her daughter, was laid back about the whole affair, and deferred to my sister, who had a ‘vision’, and stuck to it. Children, believe it or not, become extensions of their parent’s “visions”. Friction lies in the nebulous area called “I want my own life, thank you very much for all you have done”. I once had my mother say to me “be original’ when I realized I couldn’t afford all that others’ had. Then when I started making my own clothes and wore them she was really upset, because she really didn’t want any “originality” because what I was designing and making was definitely not part of her vision.

    As for fitting into your new area, let me give you one of my cardinal rules: No one gives a shit. Really, truly, everyone is dealing with their own lives and too concerned about themselves to wonder whether whatever you are doing/wearing/eating/saying/growing/etc fits into their stereotype. The most you will become is fodder for dinner time conversation, and possible only if you let your child roam around NYC naked on the dirty streets.

  3. Deanna responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    This is why I could not live in NYC. I was born there and love to visit…but give me laid back SoCal anyway. I always felt judged there….where did I go to school, who are my parents what did I get o. My SATs? In the scheme of things does any of this matter? It sure does in trendy areas of the city.

    My question is…and please feel free to answer….Where does all this money come from. We just lost thousands on the market, our house is worth at least 20 percent less than we paid and no business I know of is doing well. Can someone tell me how all these yin parents can afford help, expensive clothes, high rent etc? thanks..I may plant one of their money trees in my yard.

  4. Deanna responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Sorry for typos…iPad!!

  5. Dee responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I feel sorry for the poor little hipster. I never worried that my children were fashionable porbably because I am not. :( I am comfortable and that’s how I dressed them for comfort but cute. :)
    That’s easy to do with babies because they are inherently cute even the ones who are not beautiful.
    I know you will keep on being who you are and I hope you don’t let the pressure to change into someone who thinks what you look like is more important than who you are get to you.

  6. Mme Wong responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    While I can understand not wanting to dress your children in some of the horrendous commercial-themed clothing (think disney and others) available these days, forcing corduroy and a neckerchief on your little one in the summer is plainly cruel. Kids (even the tiniest ones) get warm too. (Although I’m sure all the Italian grandmothers in my neighborhood would strongly disagree, as I keep getting the “how dare you bring your child outside in this sun/wind/cold/snow/heat/humidity/rain?” look for them ever since I’ve spawned, but that’s another story.)

    As for fitting in, I wholeheartedly agree with San D. Don’t even bother trying, it’s not like anyone will notice. Everybody’s main concern is themselves, and how they appear to others. Besides, do you really want to fit in any kind of stereotype? Be yourself, that’s what you’re awesome at!

    P.S. – I love those glasses too. I’ve actually bought a frame, which I love, but I’ve postponed having the lenses made because I’m afraid people will think I’m just trying to follow the trend… Argh, you can never win, can you?

  7. Deanna responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Back to my keyboard! I think all this ‘fashion’ where the parents and the kids all look like models shows some severe insecurity. The kid is probably going to poop in his pants anyway…and even if he doesn’t he will grow out of them. Why all this pressure to look a certain way?

    It doesn’t stop there. I went to a party in the City when my oldest daughter was 16 or 17 and in the midst of doing her SATS and ACTS. A woman started talking to me about her daughter who was the same age and the woman was beside herself because her daughter did not have the grades to get into Yale and because of that…her life was ruined. I was totally relaxed and said I didn’t care that much and as long as my daughter got into a decent college and was happy with her choice, I was fine. This woman gave me a look that said: “You terrible terrible non-caring mother! How dare you?” I am surprised she didn’t call child services on me.

    I wish what San D said was true that most people don’t care. I don’t agree. They do care because they are basing their own net worth on how they compare to others. If the family down the street spent $500 on their stroller for twins, they should spend the same or more. If that kid has an outfit that cost $200 they need to do the same…Stupid! There are children dying in Somalia and these Yuppee idiots are spending more money on kids’ clothes than these people make in a lifetime.

  8. Ashling responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Just imagine how they dress their dog!

    Um…what’s a ‘bobo’?

  9. Diana responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    “And I felt a wave of judgmentalness sweep over me.” And this is why I love this blog.

  10. Valerie responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Sadly, most people think that their children are an extension of themselves and fail to see their children as separate human beings that will grow up and lead different lives from their own whether they like it or not. That is a damaging way to bring up children and will only end up straining the parent/child relationship over time. I think the hipsters you saw were hurting their child. They were teaching their child that comfort level doesn’t matter so long as you’re fashionable. (It goes back to the earlier post you did about girls in mini skirts and heels during the dead of winter…they learned that behavior from someone.)

    A family I know is a prime example of that wherein the matriarch tells everyone what to do and manipulates everyone through passive aggressive behavior and playing the victim to get her children to fall in line with what she wants. The 3 year old is another pawn in this game to the point that any other family member may not see the child unless the matriarch says so. It’s gotten so bad that “supervised” visits are allowed as though everyone is being allowed court appointed visitation and not one relative is allowed to take the child out to the zoo or museum without the matriarch or the matriarch in training present. The child is dressed fashionably and smashed into her gender appropriate role where princess play is okay, but anything masculine or creative or slightly “out of the norm” is not. Everything is all pink, all girly, all the time. I’m considering getting them a copy of Cinderella Ate My Daughter in the spirit of their passive aggressive natures.

  11. Valerie responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    *I meant to say 3 year old niece!

  12. Pauline responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    If you can’t think of something witty or profound to say, share something cool from someone else. ;-) Thusly…
    From “The Prophet ” by Kahlil Gibran:

    “On Children

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

  13. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I really need to quote other people more often, since I have whole weeks of being able to think of something profound to say!

  14. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    A bobo is a bourgeois bohemian, according to David Brooks, who made the term up for his book “Bobos in Paradise.” It’s a really fun book. He talks about how the upper class has changed a lot recently. Now they want to spend their money on African masks and distressed Pottery Barn furniture, rather than the traditional trappings of wealth. They’re sort of between worlds. I’m not explaining it well, but the term really describes a lot of people I know and see.

  15. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Yeah, I had a moment where I was like “OK, not really a word. Do I use it?” And then I used it. Thank you for finding it good and not bad.

  16. jensketch responded on 11 Aug 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I get the exact same feeling of “really?” when I see those babies with pierced ears and gold necklaces. It is the exact same thing anyway – parents forcing their children into the molds they expect.

    Khalil Gibran is right. But when you raise three children who believe in themselves and will speak up for themselves when they feel righteously aggrieved…. the sibling fights can be [i]utterly epic in scope and magnitude[/i]. It’s the only ill effect, I suppose. Out in the world – when you see your child stand up for themselves, you feel nothing but fierce pride.

  17. Sooz responded on 11 Aug 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    DAHHHHHHHHLING….I couldn’t agree with this post more. Lovely. I have four children and I kinda just got comfortable stretchy cotton tshirts and shorts/pants. I figured they’d get dirty playing outside and running around. Kids should just get to be kids. Amen to you and your terrific blog!!!!

  18. Kelly responded on 12 Aug 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I had to laugh reading about the baby and then glancing at my girls. My 4-year-old is in a green tank top and skirt combo that she picked out at the second-hand store. She has on a gold crown, silver shoes, and has a rubber band wrapped around her whole head as a sort of head band. Oh, and she’s FILTHY. She just came in from digging in the garden for worms. My 2-year-old, also dirty, is wearing a very prim purple smocked top, a blue cloth diaper, a red bandana around her neck, brown tennis shoes, and a pair of my socks (over the shoes). She refuses hair clips and is constantly pushing her bangs out of her eyes as she sits here and pushes matchbox cars around the baby doll she just lovingly tucked into bed. They are adorable and perfect and I love them too much to try to force them into any predefined notion I have of what girls should look or act like.

    Thanks for a great post!

  19. Kate responded on 12 Aug 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    They really do sound perfect!