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TW: This page includes documentation of politics and political controversy, and includes mentions of fascism and white supremacy.


Cottagecore, also known as farmcore and countrycore, is inspired by a romanticized interpretation of western agricultural life. It is centered on ideas of simple living and harmony with nature. Themes associated with cottagecore include self-sufficiency, baking, and caring for people. While the aesthetic is prevalent on several social media sites, such as on Instagram and more recently TikTok, the community notably prospers on Tumblr. It is particularly popular within lesbian and woman-loving-woman (WLW) communities.

The aesthetic is a continuation of many other nature-based aesthetics, but draws the most influence (and is arguably a complete revival) of the romanticization of the English countryside from the Romantic and Victorian periods. Its visuals are based on the domestic lifestyle associated with living in this type of environment, with all images providing a sense of comfort and mild adventure.

Despite a number of its followers taking a progressive and subversive outlook on life, Cottagecore has been also criticized for its romanticism of eurocentric farming life. It has also been criticized in the context of North American and Australian settings, an inadvertent celebration of the aesthetics of colonialism, as well as the ways it often simplifies and underestimates the labor of farmers. It is due to these connotations that the use of Cottagecore aesthetics has been adopted by the TradWives community and members of the far-right as forms of propaganda. This has led to media criticism despite their opposition to LGBTQ+ and anti-capitalist adherents of Cottagecore.

Cottagecore is often compared to aesthetics such as Grandparentcore, which seek to evoke a similar sense of nostalgia. It is also related to Naturecore and Warmcore.

History

The Hay Wain by John Constable (1821) shows how Cottagecore visuals are a continuation of depictions of the traditional English countryside.

This section is under construction

Precursors

Cottagecore is a continuation of ideas that have existed for millenia and uses visuals that are based in the aesthetic of the European countrysides. The evolution of these ideas into contemporary Cottagecore, an aesthetic borne out of the internet and among teenagers to young adults, is the primary history of this section, but also describes the history of Cottagecore's precursors as well.

On of the largest influences is the artistic movement of Romanticism, which emphasized a connection to nature, the past, and the senses, rather than logic.[1]

The 1970s had a fashion and home decor aesthetic known as Romantic Revival and Shabby Chic, led mostly by the companies Gunne Sax and Laura Ashley. Cottagecore fashion is largely a continuation of the designs that they used: prairie dresses in floral calico print, with heirloom sewing details. The interior design details of Shabby Chic have similar motifs with Cottagecore with the same grandmotherly connotations.

The Japanese alternative fashion Mori Kei also had an extremely large influence on the aesthetic, especially since the fashion was popular on tumblr in the early to mid-2010s. This was the de-facto feminine, nature-based, and cozy aesthetic. However, like many other trends, Mori Kei dwindled out. But as Cottagecore gained in popularity, there was a spike in Google trend searches for the fashion, showing a clear lineage in the fashion.[2]

Internet Popularization

In 2019 tumblr[3], the animated show Moomin Valley became a meme and frequent topic of conversation on the website. It popularized Cottagecore, as the characters lived in this sort of environment, with scenes of foraging, frolicking, and adventuring. Tumblr users wished for this sort of lifestyle, and the television show became a common gateway to the aesthetic. Of course, Studio Ghibli animated films have also been quite prevalent on the site, and users would have noted the commonalities between these two franchises and explored similar photographs and activities.

During this same time, there was the trend of "yearning" on tumblr. Users would post about wishing for romantic partners and situations to happen, focusing on "tenderness" such as holding hands and sharing fruit.

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Cottagecore activities such as baking bread[4], playing Animal Crossing[5], gardening, sewing, and other handicrafts[6] rose in popularity. Coupled with a rise of the app TikTok, people were more exposed to handicrafts and these activities became trends.

Another quarantine trend in 2020 was Lirika Matoshi's "Strawberry Dress," a pink tulle gown with sequined strawberries and a milkmaid style. As Vogue describes it, the appeal of the dress is "...that sweet strawberry print is deeply nostalgic, hearkening back to a time long before COVID-19, to a childhood innocence that feels especially soothing right now." Like Moomin Valley, the dress was incredibly meme-ified, with it appearing in non-Cottagecore contexts, such as in fan-art.[7] Its popularity led to people, especially on TikTok, discovering the aesthetic.

Throughout 2020, Cottagecore was made aware to various audiences as publications such as Vox and The New York Times reported on the trend. It later filtered down to various magazines and other interest sites, making the aesthetic's name fairly well-known among fashion, interior design, and crafting enthusiasts.

The aesthetic became even more well-known with the release of Taylor Swift's July 2020 album Cardigan, as the singer's visual and musical styles would influence many of her fans' tastes.[8]

Visuals

Cottagecore has a naturalistic color palette with light green foliage, browns of natural stones and wood, straw, and flowers. Pastels are common in painting. Lighting is always natural, with sunlight being the de facto light source. Morning to late afternoon "golden hour" is the range of lighting.

Different motifs appear throughout Cottagecore in various ways; rather than limiting a photo subject to just pictures of its natural form, some items appear in various mediums, such as in illustration, printed fabric, novelty dishware, and other manners of home decor. The most common motifs are: strawberries, mushrooms, and flowers.

Nature is one the main visuals of the aesthetic. One of the most common photographic subjects is wild fields of grass with small wildflowers dotted throughout.

Colourful, dainty flowers clutter the grassy meadow, while the sun shines brightly overhead.

A meadow for cottagecorers to frolick in.

Deciduous forest is also common, always in green during spring and summer, with autumnal colors and wintertime being rare. However, unlike more wild aesthetics such as Naturecore, there are almost always signs of human involvement in the rural space. Fences, bridges, clothes lines, picnicking, and controlled amounts of forestation are more often than not, elements of these images. In Cottagecore, humans have to have presence in the natural environment, shaping the landscape into home.

Gardens are of course a manifestation of this interaction between nature and human intervention. These gardens are always done in the English style, meaning that the land is cultivated to look more wild and with great variety, rather than geometric and controlled.[9] Ponds are often included, as well as wheelbarrows, wooden benches, gazebos, and other garden paraphernalia. Often, large and ornate glass greenhouses are featured, which are more in line with a wealthy, English nobility aesthetic as opposed to modest and attainable rural life. More mundane and achievable gardens can be featured, and they largely focus on the crops grown there, such as frills of lettuce sprouting from the ground or strawberries in a white-washed planter box.

A typical cottagecore cottage.

The other main visual, and the one that gives Cottagecore its namesake is the cottage, which is a fairly loose term that includes multiple types of homes. The most common Cottagecore house is the archetypical English thatch-roofed cottage with painted white or rusticated stone walls, chimneys, and shrubbery in the front. The second-most common is a miniature house or shed constructed from wood, with a gabled roof. Novel and twee decorations and painting is common in these miniature houses, and they are typically painted in pastel, feature decorative carvings, and windowboxes filed with plants. English manors are also heavily featured in Cottagecore, and fit many aesthetics, such as Tudor, Cottage Orne, and even Neoclassical, among others. These mansions are typically more extravagent than what Cottagecore is claimed to be, which will be expanded upon in the Controversy section. Architecture that is incredibly fanciful and fairy-tale-esque is also common. They often look to be falling apart, sloping, or impossibly precarious. This fits into the fairy and witch influences.

Images of the interiors of these cottages are also common and the way how Cottagecore enthusiasts can express their love for the aesthetic without living in the countryside setting. These interiors show the farmhouse-style furniture, linens, and various knicknacks that would exist in the space. The objects are frequently cluttered and mismatched to create a cozy and carefree atmosphere and are frequently connotative of grandparents, such as quilts, tea sets, and vintage crockery. However, unlike other kitschy aesthetics, these items tend to be practical and have a united aesthetic with similar motifs and a limited color palette. Continuing with the nature motifs, plants are frequently featured in interiors, with flowers, potted plants, and floral and strawberry motifs on various mediums.

Labor and handicrafts associated with the cottage lifestyle, and the results from it, are incredibly popular. See activities for a list of full details.

Animals found within the setting are another photographic subject. The ones showcased are either domesticated animals such as cows, cats, dogs, ducks, rabbits, and sheep, or wild animals that would exist in the same field and forest setting such as frogs, mice, butterflies, and squirrels. These animals would be considered "cute" and are often in poses that carry across docility and relaxation. For example, cats sleeping on windowsills or frogs crossing their arms.

Food is another important visual of the aesthetic. The results of foraging: baskets full of mushrooms, berries, and other fresh fruits celebrate the Earth's bounty and the joy found in the activity. Baked goods, bread, and other sweet foods also contribute a cozy atmosphere to the aesthetic, as it carries across the warmth and romantic labor associated with making it. This is almost always traditional Western. Fruit pies, loaves of bread, jars of jam and honey, pancakes, Victoria sponges, and other rustic cakes are the most common.

Cottagecore celebrates a love of books.

Books, an outlet for fantasy and independent learning, are frequent. These are always vintage with a romantic storybook or classical feel with either antique leather and canvas or more approchable secondhand paperbacks. In connection with this, journals and letters are also considered part of the aesthetic as they convey the tenderness and intimacy associated with doing things with one's hands. Writing and reading will be expanded further in the activities section.

A comparison of different Cottagecore illustrations; left is Cicely Mary Barker's 1923 illustrations, right is Lara Hacker's 2019 illustration. Both are very different in style, but carry across the Cottagecore aesthetic.

Another common medium of imagery of the aesthetic are illustrations. Botanical encyclopedias prior to the widespread use of colored photography are the most common. These watercolors provide detailed views of plants, typically flowers, in a way that evokes both the natural subject and the romanticization of naturalists' dedication to the subject matter during the era. Victorian to 1930s illustration, specifically of children's literature, is another important source of both inspiration and actual involvement in the aesthetic. Fairies and anthropromorphic animals (such as those of Beatrix potter's works) are the most common. These are done in a more detailed and naturalistic style in watercolor and ink. However, as cottagecore became popular, artists who specialize in digital and more simplistic art introduced a flatter and more cute style.


Fashion

Many cottagecore outfits are impractical for the farming and gardening work that the aesthetic revolves around.

Cottagecore fashion commonly involves:

  • Longer, loose-fitting, flowy dresses and skirts often (but not always) reminiscent of housework wear from the 1900s-50s.
  • Large layered clothing (as stated above) big pockets, puffy sleeves, and button blouses
  • Naturally occurring or faded colours including brown, baby pink, olive green, ivory, maroon, beige, ochre, dusty rose pink, light yellow, and baby blue.
  • Patterns such as stripes, paisley, faded floral, and gingham.
  • Embroidered plants, animals, and insects.
  • Deus Ex (2000)
  • Hand-crafted accessories such as simple jewelry and knitted hats, socks, and outerwear.
  • Shortalls/overalls
  • Lace.
  • Longer, loose-fitting clothing
  • (can also be seen wearing two braids or loose waves)

Vendors

Media

Movies

By year released

  • Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • The Sound of Music (1965)
  • The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
  • Anne of Green Gables (1985)
  • A Room with a View (1985)
  • My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
  • Only Yesterday (1991)
  • My Girl (1991)
  • Howard's End (1992)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Life is Beautiful (1997)
  • FairyTale: A True Story (1997)
  • The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999)
  • Deus Ex (2000)
  • Tuck Everlasting (2002)
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
  • The Holiday (2005)
  • Atonement (2007)
  • The Secret of Moonacre (2008)
  • Tinker Bell (2008)
  • Barbie and the Diamond Castle (2008)
  • Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit (2009)
  • The Fighter (2010)
  • The Secret World of Arietty (2010)
  • Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)
  • Tangled (2010)
  • Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  • Secret of the Wings (2012)
  • The Pirate Fairy (2014)
  • Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2014)
  • The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (2017)
  • Call Me By Your Name (2017)
  • Paddington 2 (2017)
  • Liz and the Blue Bird (2018)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (2018)
  • Ophelia (2018)
  • Midsommar (2019)
  • "Burrow" by Pixar (2020)

TV Shows

  • Winnie the Pooh (1924-present day)
  • The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
  • Little House on The Prairie (1974-1983)
  • The Moomins (1990)
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood (1993-1995)
  • Angelina Ballerina (2002-2006)
  • When Calls the Heart (2014-present day)
  • Anne with an E (2017-2019)
  • Good Omens (2019)

Literature

  • The books of Beatrix Potter
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Pettson and Findus by Sven Nordqvist
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • "1.1" by Tibellus
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Magazines

  • The Cottage Journal
  • Mother Earth News
  • Tea Time
  • Victoria

YouTube Channels

  • The Green Witch
  • Darling Desi
  • TheCottageFairy
  • 李子柒 Liziqi
  • nekoniwa

Politics

While the cottagecore aesthetic is not necessarily an organized political movement with stated goals or leaders, much of the conversation around cottagecore is political, especially given the aesthetic has become infamous for its association with two directly opposed political groups with radically different outlooks on life despite the shared frustration with modernity.

While the opposition to modern life is shared among Cottagecore adherents across the political spectrum, what is specifically being opposed tends to vary. For more progressive-leaning followers of the aesthetic, it is particularly capitalism as well as heteronormativity. While many people involved in cottagecore identify with an ideology that more concretely advocates for the restructuring of society, they may also express a dislike of capitalism in a more casual tone through or alongside cottagecore.[10]

Many progressive-leaning members of the cottagecore community reject heteronormative gender roles and seek to remove the stigma and stereotypes of traditional life from the aesthetics and culture of times past. Cottagecore enjoys niche popularity within the LGBTQ+ community, particularly among lesbian and bisexual women, for this reason. Many express dissatisfaction with the roles and expectations placed on them in a heteronormative society. Some have suggested that cottagecore presents an ideal world in which young people are able to express their personality freely in a rural space, contrasting the homophobia or transphobia faced by young people in rural areas.[11]

On the other side of the political spectrum, another more controversial large community subscribing to the aesthetic is the Tradwife movement[12], found largely on Instagram and Facebook's "Politigram" community.[13] Contrasting the progressive Cottagecore community, the rightist adherents to the aesthetic proclaim their opposition to modernity is based on a loss of conservative values in the 21st Century and fondness for a pre- rather than a post-capitalist economic system. Tradwives specifically are described as women who "embrace 'submissive' heteronormative lifestyles involving homemaking and child-rearing and reject feminism" according to Wikipedia. Members of the tradwife movement often utilize cottagecore imagery, fashion, memes, and aesthetics to promote. They may also romanticize the revitalization of traditional heteronormative gender roles for women, a popular aspect of far-right ideology. Even further niche is the utilization of cottagecore imagery and inspired memes by Eco-fascist[14] and Eco-nationalist circles who openly and intentionally uphold western colonialist and eurocentric views as an ideal as opposed to accidentally as was the criticism for Progressive Cottagecore followers. However, those within the Tradwife movement often do not associate openly with the cottagecore community and the two sides oppose each other.[15]

"Patriarchy! The proven way to raise High-Quality Children! "- ‘Tradewife’ Facebook page.[16]

Music

The music associated with Cottagecore evokes comfort and gentleness through low and soft vocals and acoustic mid-tempo instrumentation.

In lyrics, there would be references to either gentle love and/or nature.

The de facto genre is indie folk, with the musicians tending to be contemporary artists.

Artists


Playlist

Official Aesthetics Wiki playlist

The Aesthetics Wiki staff creates official Spotify playlists for aesthetics, which compile the songs most frequently featured on existing playlists dedicated to those aesthetics. Pages with an official wiki playlist will not include playlists from the public.


Activities

The activities associated with Cottagecore are defined by the typical activities one can do within the cottage space.

  • Picking flowers
  • Sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery
  • Gardening
  • Writing a handwritten letter to family (or your lover)
  • Writing poems
  • Picking fruit from your garden
  • Weaving flower crowns
  • Picnics
  • Baking
  • Painting and drawing
  • Building a birdhouse
  • Reading
  • Swimming
  • Walking in the woods
  • Making fruit preserves
  • Catching bugs


Subgenres

Bloomcore

Bloomcore is an aesthetic that is similar to Cottagecore in many ways, but has more of a centralized focus on flowers and gardening in a small, quaint village.

Cottagegore

Cottagegore is a darker take on the Cottagecore aesthetic with more of a focus on the more negative aspects of cottage and natural life that Cottagecore often tries to veer away from.

Honeycore

Honeycore is an aesthetic based around the rural production and consumption of goods such as honey, bread, and waffles. It is similar to Cottagecore in that agricultural imagery and values are emphasized, but the visuals are streamlined to create a color palette of mostly pale yellows and browns. In many of the pictures that can be classified into the Honeycore aesthetic, bees, honey, or flowers can be seen and there is a big emphasis on agriculture and conservation of bees.

Southwest Cottagecore

Southwest Cottagecore moves away from the forest-inspired, green color palette of cottagecore. The willows and vines are switched out with succulents. The main aspects are quite identical, just adapted to more southern/western life. Instead of a stone cottage, you may prefer an adobe house framed by yuccas. The fashion becomes more suited for warm weather and is generally paired with warm colors and the occasional nautical, whimsical look, characterized by run-down shacks on the coast and beach grass. Lizards, rabbits, snakes, and hawks are characteristic of the aesthetic.

Criticism

Many critics of Cottagecore point out that the trendification of rural practices and ways of life would be harmful to the environment. High populations of settlers would overpopulate the areas, ironically driving out the practices that Cottagecore enthusiasts strive for. For example, foraging could not be supported if hundreds do it, as the humans who do so would quickly exhaust the availability of the resources. Then, as the berry bushes reduce in amount, disrupting the ecosystem and causing possible ecological collapse.

Not necessarily problematic, but another valid criticism is the unrealistic "fairy tale" image of rural life. Some rural dwellers are exasperated with the ignorance of these internet users as the aesthetic does not display the difficult labor associated with farming, animal husbandry, and handicrafts.[17] This is especially contrasted with the visuals that are incongrous to the claims of self-sufficiency by Cottagecore enthusiasts. English manors necessitate servants and groundskeepers, gowns do not fit the agricultural lifestyle, real farm equipment does not appear, the materials cost money that could not be supported with small-scale farming and crafts, etc. People concerned with farming rights also claim that over-romanticization encourages an ignorant perspective on the actual lives of farmworkers, which are incredibly difficult, with back-breaking labor and economic issues. A false narrative of the farming lifestyle may encourage ignorance that patronizes the real lives of farmhands as the fans claim that they wish they were that occupational class.

The fact that Cottagecore content creators create Cottagecore content is also, ironically, contradictory to the aesthetic. The things associated with social media, such as having to build a brand, tracking trends, and even advertising the aesthetic, are contrary to Cottagecore emphasis on nature and disconnecting from these alienating websites. In seeing Cottagecore as a way to make content and have social media approval, the messaging becomes a bit lost.

Counterarguments claim that Cottagecore is an outlet for fantasy; the enthusiasts do not plan to actually move into these areas and survive on subsistance farming and experience hard labor. Instead, they try to incorporate it through small activities that they could realistically achieve in their daily non-rural lives. The aesthetic does not cause socio-economic issues, and the critics' claims are virtue-signaling and cynical exaggeration that puts down the interests of women, discourages diversity of interests, and takes away from the virtues of the aesthetic.

However, one extremely accurate issue is that the popularization of an aesthetic leads to commercialization that is not in line with the ethos of Cottagecore sustainability. As the fashion industry took note of the rising trend, they kept up with demand through fast fashion practices that abuse the workers, pollute the environment, and take away from the labor of handmade and ethical fashion.

Resources

Pinterest Boards

Gallery

References

  1. https://www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRM9ZcnCbrw
  3. http://web.archive.org/web/20210526205323/https://gayarsonist.tumblr.com/post/189724873083/im-sure-ive-missed-a-few-things-but-i-cant
  4. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/people-explain-why-baked-bread-quarantine_l_5ec73570c5b6698f38f5035c
  5. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-14/nintendo-s-animal-crossing-is-the-biggest-hit-of-the-lockdown
  6. https://www.jsonline.com/story/entertainment/2021/05/06/new-hobbies-emerge-during-covid-19-including-knitting-polka-djing/7203653002/
  7. https://www.vogue.com/article/strawberry-dress-lirika-matoshi-popular
  8. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/07/9931460/taylor-swift-folklore-fashion-clothing-trend
  9. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/a-war-of-roses-the-french-vs-english-garden-168600
  10. https://cottagecore-aesthetic.com/blogs/cottagecore-blog/poc-cottagecore
  11. https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/g5xjgj/cottagecore-aesthetic-lgbt-teens-tumblr-tik-tok
  12. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-51113371
  13. https://news.artnet.com/opinion/rhizome-meme-makers-1787829
  14. https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/social-media/2018/09/eco-fascism-ideology-marrying-environmentalism-and-white-supremacy
  15. https://www.fluentlyforward.com/home4/tradlife-versus-cottagecore-similar-aesthetics-with-very-different-values
  16. https://www.facebook.com/Tradwifeoriginal/posts/188405592705793
  17. http://web.archive.org/web/20210809192824/https://mountainwhales.tumblr.com/post/627935003101282304/listen-i-grew-up-gardening-and-canning-and-drying


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