A phenomenon of the 1960s

Hippies may be the most famous symbol of the 1960s, but they only really became popular in the early 1970s, when their numbers and influence peaked.

  • The hippies' drug subculture in the 60s became youth pop culture in the '70s.
  • Long hair became standard for teenage boys in the late '70s.

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Perspective | Five myths about hippies

washingtonpost.com

One of the myths related to hippies is that they lived only in coastal cities or rural communes.

The earliest surge of hippie culture took place in coastal cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, but almost every city had a neighborhood or public place where hippies hung out.

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Many people think hippies with flowers in their hair were at the heart of the antiwar movement. However, antiwar protesters and hippies were usually two different groups.

  • Hippies prioritized spiritual enlightenment, community building, drugs, and rock-and-roll.
  • Hippies were indifferent or opposed to activists' political organizing.
  • Hippies hoped to change America by seceding from established institutions, not by reforming them.
  • Hippies disregarded popular norms and instead looked inward for peace and wisdom.

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To many, hippies were associated with free love, but that was more legend than fact.

While hippies were more sexually adventurous, they mostly stuck to heterosexual monogamy. The parties where people would smoke or drink too much and sleep with their friends had repercussions the next day.

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It's less the case that hippies died out, and more the case that all of us became hippies. The number of countercultural practices once seen is now widely accepted.

  • Yoga is one example, so is organic food and vegetarian, whole-grain diets. 
  • The fashion sense of the hippies paved the way for our current era. Hippies wore casual clothes, especially blue jeans and androgynous styles, rejecting formal and gender-specific clothing. 

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