For the Hippies

  1. I really like mascara. And if I could pull off Adele’s eye lashes, I totally would.
  2. My kids totally dig a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
  3. My hair requires precision cutting.
  4. I really like my anti-perspirant and I shave under my arms.
  5. I prefer polka dots to tie dye.
  6. I like to wear high heels.
  7. I’ve never been to a protest rally.  In fact, I’m not sure public displays like that make any difference at all.
  8. And for all my efforts to feed my children in a healthy manner (see #2 above), those totally fake coffee creamers?  Love ’em.


I don’t know how you would define such a person, but I’d guess that I’m not the first things that pops into your head.

But people call me that all the time.  Why?

  1. I breastfed all 3 of my children.
  2. We slept with them in our bed (we still have kids in our bed from time to time).
  3. I cloth diapered.
  4. I buy as much of our food from local sources as possible.
  5. My husband bikes to work.

Here’s the hard reality, as I see it.  We MUST stop associating things like natural birth (regardless of where it takes place) and breastfeeding with being “crunchy”, “granola”, “hippie”.  Because by doing so, we are communicating that for someone to participate, they must also take part in a number of other things associated with the lifestyle.

This week, the amazing Elita, of Blacktating, said, in response to a tweet from Ananda Lewis,

“Drug-free home birth? Check! Cloth diapers? Check!…Welcome to the Crunchy Black Mom Club!”

I have a ton of respect for Elita and the passion with which she has promoted breastfeeding within the African-American community, but this time I think she got it dead wrong.

And she wasn’t alone.  Saturday Night Live got in on the action too:

*This is just a small portion of the sketch. Further on, it gets a bit more “late night TV-y” so watch at your own risk.

See those looks on the character’s faces?  Have you seen those same looks from your friends when talking about birth and breastfeeding?

When we associate natural birthing methods and breastfeeding with a whole culture of being “crunchy”, we alienate large portions of the population; large portions of the population who would benefit from these practices.

What if, like I saw on facebook this week, when a new dad shares of their home birth experience, people celebrate and congratulate instead of posting 13! responses like “Well, she turned ya into one of those, huh?” or “You’re a 10 on the Hippie Scale!”?

What if instead of calling a new breastfeeding mom “Crunchy”, we called her “Courageous” and “Powerful”?

Diane Wiessinger, in her important essay, “Watch Your Language“, reminds us that words are powerful!  They change trends.  They change outcomes.  They change behavior.

I think it is high time we change ours.


  1. says

    Well said! I lean towards more natural parenting (breastfeeding, cloth diapers, occassional co-sleeping, etc) but I don’t consider myself crunchy or a hippie or a lactivist or anything like that. I’m just me. My parenting is based on educationally-sound decisions I’ve made with my husband.

  2. Vanessa says

    Well said Amber. I am not familiar with the term “crunchy” but it doesn’t sound like it means “way to go, we support you”. Where do you buy from local sources? I will have to email you our next go around to find out about home births and cloth diapers. I am interested and scared about both of them but still curious.

  3. says

    I loved this post! I too feel like those those words can be very restricting for people who don’t feel like they fit the whole hippie or crunchy lifestyle. I think it’s important that we work to try and include those who may want to breastfeed, but like designer clothing. Or those who want to have a natural birth but would always get those vaccinations. Well put article.

  4. Ren says

    I think Crunchy Black Mom Club got it right. Reclaim the words. If crunchy and hippy are equated with breast feeding, home birth and cloth diapers then more power to them. A rose is still a rose even if called by another name. In third world countries when women do those things they are called…mothers.
    If someone is going to allow the labels of others to guide their parenting decisions then they don’t have what it takes to break from the pack. I heart Hippies and granola. I won’t ever bow my head in shame for anyone.

  5. says

    Wow, I never realized I was a hippie. I thought I was just a mom doing what is best for her family and her children. Great post!!

  6. Julie says

    I would call myself crunchy. It’s my understanding that the definition of hippy has changed. Hippy used to be an insulting name used to imply something like dirty, pot-smoking slacker, or maybe rebellious protester, but not green-thinking or nature-loving mother. Even if we consider the newer connotations of the word “hippy,” sure, I’m a hippy, but being a mother actually kind of cramps my hippy style – my mothering is not what makes me a hippy. I garden. I think make-up is (for the most part) stupid. I think high heels are even more stupid. I listen to folk and bluegrass. I don’t always shave my legs, even in the summer. I like picnics and music festivals and I attend demonstrations and protests. I’m pretty liberal on most issues. I eat locally and have vegan friends and make my own granola. I don’t do fast food, but I think hippies would do fast food; at least taco bell, since there are veggie choices on that menu. (I imagine Phish fans grabbing something in a drive thru on the way to the next concert – but I’m not a Phish fan.) I breastfeed, but I don’t think that’s a hippy thing – I think that tends to be an older, educated mom thing, in the US anyway. And cloth diapers? That’s me being frugal and responsible, not hippy. So, no, that stuff is not hippy… it’s just half way to old lady. I WAS a hippy. Now I’m a mommy. If you mascara-wearing ladies are cloth diapering, that’s just super. But nope – I wouldn’t call you a hippies. But it’s all good.

  7. Naomi says

    Yep. We’ve been called Hippies mor times than I can count, but I don’t think of myself as one. Although, I’m not sure it’d be an insult. Hippies are usually really kind people. Humans are stuck on labels. And if you don’t belong to one, they find you one. Sort of sad, really…Great blog.

  8. Kylie says

    Thank you. I think it’s important to note that not only does this language alienate parents who might otherwise consider natural choices, but it marginalizes those choices to the point where they are seen as “alternative” ways to raise children, when oftentimes (especially in the case of breastfeeding) there is hard evidence to prove them the optimal way.

  9. Sol says

    I’m sorry but I read this and finished with this thought “Way to stereotype a whole group of women to make your point.”

    Many women who would identify as ‘hippie’ or ‘crunchy’ or ‘granola’ wear high heels, get haircuts, use personal hygiene products. Many do not wear tie dye or participate in protests. I think it is unnecessary to pigeonhole a group of women into these stereotypes. One has nothing to do with the other.

    Many women self identify with labels. It is a normal process, and condition of human nature and community.

    Does the language need to segregate? I don’t think it does. I think if we keep the focus on the outcome (goals we all share in a community- ie. Breastfeeding support) then we can succeed in self-identifying AND still being part of a greater community.

  10. Jane says

    Yay for breastfeeding. One thing I’m surprised by–you say people call you a hippie all the time. Where do you live? I breastfed, we eat locally/organically, my husband bike commutes to work, etc.–and I can’t think of anyone that has ever called us hippies.

  11. says

    I think calling things what they are is helpful–I don’t hesitate to embrace the title “attachment parent.” But I don’t know if the words “crunchy” or “hippie” have much defined meaning in the culture at large, especially for the generation who is having babies right now. I know plenty of mainstream mothers who wean early but live more sustainably than I do; also, perhaps this is just my bias, but I’ve always found the idea of living closer to the earth (and more responsibly!) attractive but hard to achieve. I tend to come down in the camp that believes words are important, but we should respect what others chose to label themselves. If breastfeeding women choose to embrace the words “hippie” or “crunchy,” let us. Fight instead the binaries that our culture creates that say you can’t breastfeed your children until they wean naturally and _______ (use disposables, vaccinate, homeschool/public school/unschool, wear or use X).

  12. says

    What’s so wrong with being a hippie anyway? I’m tired of it being used as an insult when every ‘hippie’ I’ve ever met has been lovely and down to earth!

  13. Phish Phan says

    Great post!

    I used to call myself granola, crunchy, and hippie, sometimes all in the same sentence. I have since dropped all of those labels as I found labels create divisions that tend to disappear when they are not present.
    I use cloth diapers, sometimes still co-sleep, extended breastfed, babywear, shop locally, often with cash, vaccinate, shave most body hair with regularity, make tye-dye t-shirts and onesies, and tour with Phish as schedule & finances permit. I never eat at Taco Bell, haven’t in years. Lot food is usually much better. 😉
    These are choices we have made as a family. They do not categorize us as alternative. I hope to connect with other moms regardless of if the choices made in their families are the same. Words like hippie and it’s connotations can prevent that from happening.

    When we use our words, let’s try to be kind and inclusive.

    I was also surprised by Blacktating’s tweet. I might have said “Welcome to motherhood! Sounds like a lot of natural choices are being made by this new mom.”

  14. amy says

    I agree with Sol , Michelle and several others. why do you need to make people feel inferior for their supposed title when they have what’s best for baby at heart?
    I have read that the word hippie means “a person who is aware of the situation”. In other words- someone who is well informed. I certainly don’t see that as a bad thing.


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