In Defense of Twee: An Unironic Indie-Pop Lifestyle Guide

A few years ago, the always insightful music critic Nitsuh Abebe wrote an in-depth piece titled “Twee as Fuck” in which he proclaimed that “indie pop is not just ‘indie’ that is ‘pop.'” He went on to say that very few people knew this, or even cared. Though we agree that most people, even big music fans, are seriously uninformed about cultural history of “indie pop,” or “twee,” we aren’t so sure that it’s because they don’t care. Over and over, we see “twee” come up in cultural discussions, usually when it’s being used as an insult, or berated as an aesthetic. In any case, it’s almost always oversimplified. See, for example, a recent Thought Catalog piece by former Hipster Runoff model Bebe Zeva, where she instructs readers on “How To Be Twee,” based on the most basic and stereotypical ideas of what that means.

Now, it seems to us that the hatred of twee culture stems from its connection with “cuteness,” a trait that is generally linked closely with the concept of femininity. It’s a little concerning that this “feminine” subculture is treated with such derision. Twee was popular in the early ’90s, as was riot grrrl. They both put stock in a DIY, punk aesthetic, were grassroots and fan-fueled, and, in their own ways, both fought against gender norms. Though riot grrrl was more obvious in its loud protest of women’s subjugation in both in the music industry and the world, twee attacked gender roles more subtly. Twee suggested that it’s all right for people, including straight men, to be as cutesy as they want to be and not always adhere to the restraints of  masculinity. With that in mind, and just in time for the NYC Popfest, Flavorpill presents an alternative guide to being Twee As Fuck. After the jump, we go far deeper into twee than posting a sepia-tone picture on your Tumblr.

Make a “Twee As Fuck” T-Shirt

Not every indie-pop fan has to look the part, but if you’re going out to see a wonderful neo-twee band like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (who are playing at Cake Shop this Thursday as a part of the NYC Popfest), it’s an awesome way to get in the spirit. Twee style covers a wide range but focuses on thrifted, stylishly mismatched outfits in pastel colors with motifs like cherries, candy, and kittens. Above all, a DIY aesthetic defines twee fashion, which can be easily attained by making yourself a “Twee As Fuck” T-shirt. These shirts were pretty popular back in the ’90s, and they are certainly a convenient way to circumvent the “what kind of music do you like” conversation and attract people who are into same things as you. And they’re great conversation starters!