The internet can really be quite a mixed bag. Sometimes you’ll find things that bring you joy, sometimes it’s all just horrible content that makes you want to go back to bed. And lately, it’s really been leaning toward the latter.
But there’s a small section of the internet that exists solely to soothe your anxious soul, to fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling that’s kinda hard to come by these days.
Introducing: cottagecore. It’s an aesthetic that revolves around simple, rural life. Think quaint thatched cottages with overgrown gardens, fresh laundry hanging on the line, apple pie baking in the oven, a quilted picnic blanket in a green field, florals, fresh fruit, clean mountain air. Sounds calming, right?
Cottagecore has been growing in popularity online since late last year, but it’s definitely had a boom over the last month. On Tumblr, the #cottagecore tag has seen a huge engagement spike, with reblogs up by over 600%. Earlier this month, Tumblr itself even launched their own new curated blog called “Cozy”. It’s filled with wholesome images and feel-good content, designed to give users a quiet space away from the gloom and doom that comes with Being Online.
Of course, the trend has made its way to TikTok as well. With a quick look at the #cottagecore hashtag, I can see a tutorial on how to grow plants in jars, a slow-mo video of fluffy grass swaying in the wind, a girl collecting wildflowers in a basket set to plunky piano music, and someone making daisy chains.
Tumblr’s “meme librarian” Amanda Brennan (actual title, Head of Content Insights and Social) describes cottagecore like that storyline in Scandal where Olivia Pope wants to move to Vermont and make jam with Fitz. It’s a romanticised idea that we could leave behind all the stress and craziness in our lives to go live off-the-grid, where emails can’t reach us and our only task is baking bread or making jam.
A big component of cottagecore is DIY, which is really resonating with people while we’re all social isolating. It seems like everyone is making bread, or baking cookies, or learning origami, or dusting off those mindfulness colouring books we all got for Christmas in 2016 from our aunts. According to Brennan, leaning into DIY is our way of mentally disconnecting.
“I think as we’re in this state where everything in our lives has to be so online, a lot of people are looking for something that can ground them a little more,” she said. “You’re putting something into your hands that doesn’t necessarily involve looking at a computer.”
While we’re all stuck inside, we can dream about all the things our lives could be. Cottagecore is the perfect escape, it’s soothing and calming but it’s also relatively attainable. Maybe we can’t all go live in a cabin in the woods, wearing nothing but flowy dresses while tending to our garden of wildflowers. But we can learn to cross stitch, we can bake bread, we can buy some watercolours, we can have a picnic in our backyard.
And at the end of the day, it’s the wholesome content that’s going to help get us through this.