Saturday, 19 October 2019

The cutting edge

When I was young the word "trendy" was an insult. People laughed at the "mindless trendies" who were slaves to every passing fashion and couldn't bear to feel they were behind the times.

Now that's all changed and there's a total obsession with being trendy at all costs, being at the cutting edge of clothing, cookery, movie-watching, house d├ęcor, musical taste, holiday location, climate awareness, and even vocabulary - woe betide us if we use an obsolete term about other people (diabetics, transsexuals, dykes, nutters, natives etc).

The joke is that most trends are so nebulous and often simply assertions by some (fashionable) journalist, beauty editor or pundit. One person's boldly expressed trend will flatly contradict someone else's. In one place we hear that short skirts are back, in another that long dresses are now all the rage. Staying at the cutting edge is an arduous task when everyone disagrees about what the cutting edge consists of.

For years now I've never been remotely trendy and I just do and wear what I feel like doing and wearing. If my decisions happen to coincide with some fashionable dictat, it's mere coincidence. And few people actually care if I'm up-to-the-minute or not, except in the political sphere where being "off-message" can lead to instant ostracism rather than a healthy debate.

I remember trying to keep up with my fellow pupils at boarding school (when I was still young and impressionable) and failing miserably. I would attempt an Elvis-style hairdo, or adopt the required footwear of winkle pickers or chisel toes, or buy some Buddy Holly-style thick-rimmed glasses, but they all knew I was insincere and simply trying to fit in, and I'm sure they laughed at me behind my back.

It was only a year ago I bought my first backpack, after everyone else had had them since the year dot. I still haven't succumbed to a smartphone, Netflix, WhatsApp, airbnb or Uber. But I do take a very trendy set of hessian bags to the supermarket. Do I get any brownie points for that?

30 comments:

  1. You've lumped a lot of things together. Cutting edge is usually what a small population does and trendy is for the masses. At least that's how I view it. I think politically correct terms are a different subject matter altogether? And I don't think smartphones, Airbnb or uber are going anywhere! Seems like those things are here to stay, but who knows?

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  2. After retirement, I became a trend setter by being totally casual about everything in my life and for the past seven years more so by completely giving up any kind of Western attire and sticking to the Indian white comfortable attire that has also become a trend setter with some of my friends also following suit. I had however been part of the cutting edge crowd during my middle years which in retrospect sounds so comic now.

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  3. I couldn't call my working clothing either cutting edge or trendy and apart from that I bought comfortable clothes - though there were times when that was difficult!
    There are times when trends coincide with what I am doing...my string shopping bags, for example....

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    1. Fly: Hard to be cutting edge with working clothes - usually there's a dress code you have to conform to. But string shopping bags are definitely ahead of the pack!

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  4. Bijoux: I think cutting edge and trendy mean much the same over here. And politically there are definitely fashionable terms and descriptions that push out older ones.

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  5. Ramana: Good for you wearing comfortable clothes and not bowing to Western norms. I can't quite imagine you as a cutting-edge middle-ager but I'm working on it!

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  6. I don't care about trendy or cutting edge but sometimes I accidentally stumble into it. Like yoga pants--they are the most comfortable pants I ever discovered so I wear them. And string bags--I started crocheting those back in the 1970s, still use them, and had no clue they are now fashionable. Maybe I should start making and selling them again? Maybe open an Etsy shop? :)

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  7. Wait, what's the alternative to saying diabetics?

    I think some of your list at the end are trends and some are just the way things constantly evolve. Airbnb, for instance - there's nothing trendy about including airbnb in a search for good, reasonably priced accommodations. I don't see it as any different from using a site like expedia. And uber (although I've never used it) is just another cab business. To me, the kind of thing the ret of your post is talking about - like fashions, or food trends - all depend on whether you buy/eat them because you like them or because you just have to do what's fashionable. So I eat sushi, which is more recently widely available, because I love it. I pass on things with bacon, which is also recently everywhere, because I don't eat mammal. But even clothes are subject to what's available to buy. So if you need a new shirt and buy one you like that you find in a store, and it happens to be in style - are you being trendy or are you buying a shirt that you like?

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    1. Agent: What I mean is that airbnb is trendy as opposed to say B&B or hotels, the more traditional options. Likewise Uber is trendy as opposed to conventional taxis.

      Sure, you can buy things because they're trendy or just because you like them. I'm not saying that if something happens to be trendy, then you shouldn't buy it.

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  8. Linda: Yes, string bags could be a big money-spinner! As for yoga pants, I haven't switched to them yet, I'm a confirmed jeans fan. And that's all year round, I never wear shorts.

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  9. The hessian bags are exemplary, trendy or not, and I congratulate you.

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    1. And we've been using them for many years, possibly decades.

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  10. I think you're mixing up a great pile of different behaviours here.

    for instance I've always thrift shopped and now that is becoming really "woke" behaviour for the trendies. sometimes actions collide.

    Also I have several cousins who are hipsters and sheepily follow that particular avenue of trendiness.

    Airbnb and Uber are for those who can't afford the luxury hotels and exorbitant taxis so I have no trouble with those at all.

    And yay netflix for those of us who despise TV and blaring and incessant commercials.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. www: I've always been thrifty right across the board, going back to my childhood, my thrifty parents and when thrift was a commonplace attitude.

      I'm not saying airbnb should be boycotted (though the way it's reducing long-term accommodation is worrying). I'm just saying it's trendy compared to the traditional alternatives.

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  11. I'm with Secret Agent --- what's the objection to the term diabetic? Do people also object to the term alcoholic?

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    1. Jean: I used to work for Diabetes UK, and the thinking was that the term "diabetic" reduces someone to an illness. They preferred the phrase "people with diabetes". The irony is that most diabetics are actually quite happy with the term.

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    2. I figured that. Do they make the distinction when talking about people addicted to alcohol? It seems to me there's a lot more stigma attached to alcoholism than diabetes. And people with mental illnesses have it bad too. Around here a lot of people with security clearances wouldn't get counseling for stress or other problems because they worried about being stuck forever with a label.

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  12. You just wanted to write a post to show off about your hessian bags!!! And now look at the confusion you've caused :-)
    Sx

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    1. Ms Scarlet: Damn, rumbled! Not only do we use hessian bags, we take all our used glass to the recycling centre.

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  13. I wish Uber and AirB&B would disappear! My kids gave me a smart phone last year and i have to say that now I have one i am completely addicted to the convenience of it.

    I still regard "trendy" as an insult...for many reasons.

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  14. Kylie: I don't have a smartphone because I don't have enough relatives or friends to justify it. It would no doubt sit there unused for days on end.

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    1. I use mine for navigation, quick google searches, the camera, facebook, email. Of course, most of these functions can be performed by your home laptop or desk top computer but once you start to carry the internet in your pocket it's eminently usable.

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  15. Kylie: Yes, it's handy for all those other things. But if I go out with Jenny, she has a smartphone and can check things like bus timings, location of venues etc. It's very seldom that I'm out somewhere and I think I really need a smartphone to help me out.

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  16. Oh, and about the diabetic thing: people with diabetes might be ok about being called diabetic but that doesn't mean we don't need to do better.
    They have been called diabetic forever and so they haven't thought about it but who wants to be "a diabetic"
    or "a canceric"
    how about "a blood pressure"
    a "heart patient"?

    we are all much more than our diagnoses but only some are expected to wear it as a label. Even if they think they don't care, we owe it to them to treat them as people first and diagnosis second (or third, fourth or fifth)

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  17. Kylie: Yes, I understand the thinking, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Is "a person with diabetes" really better than "a diabetic"? And I wouldn't mind being known as a "hypertensive" if that's what I am (in part). Just as I don't mind being known as "middle class", even though I'm a lot more than my class status. But of course if someone doesn't want to be called "diabetic" I would respect that.

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    1. I think the difference is that hypertensive people are never described as such. "Diabetic" labels the entire person.If you were "nick the hypertensive" and described as such for pretty much your entire life you might start to say "hang on, I'm all sorts of other things, too"

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  18. Kylie: But how many people are consistently described as "X the diabetic"? I know a lot of people with diabetes but I've never heard them described like that. Certainly I wouldn't want to be known forever as "Nick the hypertensive" but I can't see that ever happening.

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  19. I think there is a stage when many young people look rather insincere, when really they're doing is trying out a new "self". I think that's not really insincere, it's being young :)

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    1. Jenny: You mean being "trendy" may simply be trying things on to see if they fit? You could be right.

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  20. Is transsexual obsolete? What is it now?

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