The hippie movement began in America in the mid-1960s.

In the year of 1965, a San Fransisco journalist used the term “hippie” to describe the new kind of American rebel- they were passionate, spontaneous, and free.

Their origins came from the Bohemians of the early 1900s and the Beat Generation of the 1950s.The hippies defined themselves as opponents of the dominant culture, a stiff, tight-lipped society. Instead of conforming to the uptight dominance of society, they instead wore their hair long, dressed in jeans, sandals and loose-fitting dresses, and they experienced with mind altering drugs and uninhibited living.

The hippies in America loved the English Invasion rock groups, and they wore the “swinging London” style mini-skirts and Beatles haircuts, and they also raided the thrift stores for Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Their look was completely different than the dominant culture of America, so they clearly stood out as hippies.

Their clothes outraged the conservative members of the population, which in America was just about everyone.

Before the 60s men’s hair and sideburns in America were styled in a crew cut, in keeping with World War II military hygiene.

By the end of the 60s, jeans and t-shirts or worn work shirts and ex-army jackets were the new uniforms in the States, but the hippie revolution meant you could wear anything you wanted. And the hair, of course, was long, and by the end of the 60s men also grew mustaches and beards as well.

For women, the early 60s was a time of skirts and dresses; trouser-suits did not come in until the late 60s and caused a sensation when they did. Hair was permed and sprayed and thick lipstick and makeup made even teenage girls look like they were in their mid-30s. The hippies and the influence of their fashion did away with the rollers and long natural hair took over; ponytails were now only for the boys and both sexes wore headbands.

Girls looked for old-fashioned, second-hand dresses in thrift stores, favoring worn, soft fabrics like lace and velvet and often wearing long granny-esque dresses. They wore handmade clothes, often tie-dyed in bright colors and psychedelic rainbows, hand-strung beads, and sometimes bare feet. Some did wear flowers in their hair, giving them the name Flower Child.

The women were no longer told how high the hem of their skirt had to be anymore. After the hippie movement, it could be anywhere you wanted it to be.

The hippie scene also changed the sound of music. The 60s transformed pop music into rock music, from entertainment to art.

Rock groups, generally speaking, returned to the blues or rhythm and blues for inspiration. It took the British Invasion, led by the Beatles, to reawaken the American musician’s interest in their own blues originals. Before they became known as the Grateful Dead, they were known as the Warlocks and specialized in extended blues jams. Canned Heat was a popular blues band, and Janis Joplin was a blues singer.

Another great change was the Beatles, whose new sound paved the way of turning music from just pop music to a new form of art. The Jefferson Airplane were very pop-oriented, but it was really their lyrics that set them apart from other bands. Jimi Hendrix combined R&B and pop to forge a new art form. In these beginnings, a new sound emerged from the hippie culture.

The counterculture of hippies also questioned the sexual morality and proposed many different models:

Extended sexual families, sex orgies, sex-therapy groups, acceptance of homosexuality, and most important of all, a positive, joyful celebration of sexuality, as opposed to the uptight morality of the previous generation.

In mid-60s America, television situation-comedy shows could only depict a married couple in twin-beds, and unmarried couples were not allowed to be shown in bed at all. This was why the Hippies were so shocking to people, with their sex-orgies and acceptance of homosexuality, in a generation where those things were kept behind closed doors, and not mentioned at all. In this questioning of sex roles, the women’s movement began.

Hippies were known for their treatment of women, calling them “chicks” or “old ladies” and expected to do all the chores, and look after the children. But after the introduction of the contraceptive pill, women were given freedom of choice in sexual partners for the first time.

The loose sexuality morality gave rise to a questioning of all gender roles, including if it was right for women to do all the housework, the cooking, and washing, while her husband listened to a rock band on his headphones. Out of all this, the women’s movement was born.

Another important aspect of the Hippie movement was the drugs, mainly marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy.

LSD, or Acid, was still legal at the beginning of the Hippie movement, and many Hippies and rock bands engaged in it.

Though it was legal, use was still kept a secret. Many Hippies took hit after hit of acid, going on a continual psychedelic “trip”. Marijuana use was illegal, though the use of it was also high in America.

Many Hippies could be seen smoking a joint between each other anywhere they were, though it also was kept away from authorities, for obvious illegal reasons. in the late sixties, though, hardly anyone smoked pot anymore, and Speed, STP, and Heroine were overcoming Acid as the drugs of choice.

From all these aspects emerged one of the most influential countercultures of our lifetime, the Hippie generation. Though it originated in the 60s, its influence is still seen in our society today.


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