Despite actually living it for the past year and a bit, only came across the term cottagecore recently. Cottagecore (also known as farmcore, countrycore, naturecore, honeycore or warmcore) is the internet aesthetic taking over our screens lately with its ultra-romanticised interpretation of rural and countryside life. A calming, escapist aesthetic filled with rolling meadows, happy farm animals, freshly baked loaves of bread, vegetable gardens, and yes, quaint and cosy countryside cottages, cottagecore is a visual and lifestyle movement that fetishizes the outdoors and rural life―a simpler life in harmony with nature. It can also be defined as the celebration of “a return to traditional skills and crafts such as foraging, baking, and pottery, and is related to similar nostalgic aesthetic movements such as grandmacore [and] farmcore.”
The movement began in 2018 as a reaction to hyper-connectivity whereby being outdoors and unavailable or disconnected was, in essence, an act of rebellion. Digital connections were being replaced with a connection with the outside world, idealising agricultural life to calm over-stimulated nerves, its founders imagining an “idyllic escape from the endless dopamine trap of digital media and the brutal judgment that accompanied it.” (Guardian) What began as an “obvious backlash to the hustle culture embodied by Fiverr ads, cottagecore attempts to assuage burnout with a languid enjoyment of life’s mundane tasks.” (The New York Times)
Perhaps the reason why we’re so drawn to this aesthetic again now, two years after it began is that at its height a few months ago, the outdoors were forbidden due to lockdown. During lockdown, what else was there to do besides bake bread, grow plants and long for picnics in the idyllic outdoors? It’s also the reason why we’re seeing a return to things such as knitting and embroidery and pottery. Increased interest in cottagecore in the midst of the pandemic “both makes sense and feels a bit paradoxical. Aside from the mushroom rings, weathered books, fresh sourdough, and rustic intimacy, cottagecore’s ‘leaving society to live in the woods’ ethos is still built on the idea of at least some degree of social isolation.” (Insider)
Of course, one can not help but notice the obvious irony of a movement that celebrates nature and the outdoors and exists almost entirely on the internet, its followers participating from behind the screens of smartphones. But perhaps that is the point: cottagecore is not so much about actually attaining a specific lifestyle, but more about longing for it. And right now, in times like these, who can blame us for dreaming of a calmer, more simple life?
* The suffix “-core,” derived from 1980s hard-core punk music, is now used to delineate a type of genre or category. (The New York Times)