Keep it cool, people.
Is there a moment that you can identify as the birth of the modern hipster?
— Dick, Bankers Hill
Well, as I have said before, the hipster is eternal. There have always been hipsters, and there always shall be. However, in an effort to answer your question rather than dodge the inquiry entirely, with the benefit of hindsight, we can place an exact date on the watershed moment for contemporary hipsterism: May 24, 2011, when the United States Department of Agriculture revised its recommendation for cooking pork.
Prior to that date, the federal agency vaguely in charge of American food safety had recommended cooking all pork products to a blistering internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For much of the 20th century, perhaps no single food better represented the bland, suburban drudgery of American cooking at its worst than the dry pork chop, Shake ‘n’ Baked into oblivion with an internal temperature often far exceeding the 160-degree guideline “to be on the safe side” of foodborne illness. If you were lucky, maybe you got some applesauce to moisten an otherwise unpalatably dry cut of “the other white meat.” The government’s blessing of criminally overcooked pork lent credibility and legitimacy to the practice of being boring and living a boring life where you ate boring things.
The USDA’s 2011 rejection of the 160-degree guideline was a sign of mainstream society catching up with what hip, in-the-know people had known for years, and, since that date, the hipsterfication of American society has done nothing but pick up momentum. Prior to May 24, 2011, mainstream Americans regarded hipsters with skepticism. They were essentially waiting for all the hipsters to suffer some fatal and unforeseen consequence of drinking kombucha, eating various forms of undercooked meat, and smoking artisanal strains of marijuana with idiotic names. None of these things proved deadly. Quite the opposite, in fact. After Uncle Sam bestowed his patriarchal blessing on hipster lifestyle choices like eating medium rare pork chops, even the most skeptical hipster-haters in places like Iowa could get on board. The rest, as they say, is history — history we are in the process of writing.
Why is it cute when hipster girls wear cowboy boots (cowgirl boots?), but it would be totally weird for a hipster guy to wear cowboy boots without being an actual cowboy?
I think it’s because there is virtually zero chance the young hipster girl attending Coachella in her sundress and cowgirl boots will be mistaken for an actual cowboy. On the other hand, your average hipster dude might need to be careful about adding a set of Tony Lamas to the wardrobe because, after you factor in the flannel shirt and the tendency to admire Sturgill Simpson, the aesthetic divide between hipster and cowboy starts looking pretty narrow. It simply would not do, as the cheeky Brits say, for a hipster to be mistaken for a cowboy. Cowboys are, after all, what hipster guru Tom Robbins called “dour-faced, stiff-minded, suck-butt, kick-butt, buzz-cut, macho dickheads” in Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. I rather doubt this description impugns the people who actually herd cattle for a living and ride horses. It is more a dig at the wannabes who, as Robbins says, “mostly just get in the way” of hipsters going about their business of making the world a better place.