When you google cottagecore, you’re bound to see the typical pastoral setting and a bunch of white girls frolicking around in dresses — it probably looks like outtakes from Little House on the Prairie.
But what you’ll find on TikTok, Reddit, and Tumblr under #cottagecore is the safe space that women of color and wlw (women-loving-women) have carved out for themselves in an unexpected backdrop: the forest in what seems like moss-covered nostalgia for western colonialism with a strong queer presence.
But don’t get it twisted. The cottagecore fashion and lifestyle trend (shout-out to Taylor Swift’s new album folklore for bringing cottagecore and the love of cable knit sweaters to the masses in the middle of summer), however, is not a nostalgic look back in time.
It’s the creation of a rural, non-binary, climate change-free paradise where queer women and women of color can celebrate what they love away from the conservative politics and regressive gender roles typically associated with colonial times. It’s an opportunity to reclaim hobbies, activities, and styles often depicted as country or rural — AKA conservative and white — and make them visibly queer and black instead.
Female millennials and Gen Z’ers came up during a time when activities like cooking, sewing, gardening, and Home Ec classes reinforced outdated gender stereotypes and were rallied against. But what cottagecore is doing today is reclaiming the simple joys of a domesticated lifestyle as something belonging to all of us rather than reserved solely for subservient white wives and right-wing mommy bloggers.
It’s the work of a group of women reshaping what we think of when we think of a cottage in the woods by creating a new narrative, representation, and a sense of LGBTQ+ community where there previously wasn’t. It’s a reimagining of the way people can live in an idyllic countryside setting that they were never supposed to be invited to in the first place.
Cottagecore provides a form of rural escapism where they can feel seen and practice self-care by opting for a simpler, softer way of living and dressing. For queer women especially it’s seen as the response to the over-sexualization of lesbians in pop culture. The point of cottagecore is to reject the societal expectation of dressing for the male gaze and instead celebrate everything it means to be feminine. And as a fan of all things gentle, inclusive, fairytale-esque, and female gaze-focused, I’m definitely here for it.
Shop Our Favorite Cottagecore-Inspired Pieces Below:
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Shannon Vize is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has been published by Elite Daily, Taylor Magazine, CIO, and Forbes. When she’s not hate-binging the latest episode of The Bachelor franchise, she’s busy trying to dismantle the patriarchy by dissecting the latest anti-feminist theme in pop culture to anyone who will listen.