Going Green With No Sacrifice: Meet the “High Fructose Crunchy”
After near 22 years of institutionalized learnin’, and with fewer and fewer job prospects on the horizon, a kid’s gotta break out and do his or her own thang. For some lucky folks, this means some form of backpacking through Asia for eight years and returning with ridiculous stories about camel trading festivals and human trafficking. For others, the newfound freedom takes the form of rebelling against their chosen major and picking a new, ridiculous career. (Rooftop farming anyone?) Many decide the world is just too scary and retreat into the relative safety of the institution—grad school. However, nearly every recent graduate comes to the realization that this is the first time in their life when they are thought of something other than a student. For 22 years they have been a student first. They may have been a bad student, or a funny student, or a rebellious student, but as my parents told me for most of my life, “school is your job,” and now we are on to new careers.
There are many people—possibly stereotypes—that become appealing to us as new identities, some more annoying than others. Some seem natural. That girl that started the environmental club will probably continue being a hippie. That guy who insisted on wearing a button down tucked into his Izods will continue to act like his ideal of an adult, whether he gets a job as an Investment Banker or not. But most aren’t that self-assured in their early 20s, and that’s how the “self-confused” are created.
I believe that every “poser” has good intentions, they just haven’t been given the right tools. For instance, the guy who claims to like every new band that comes out but does not know the history of the genre he is clinging to most likely does love the music, he just sounds like an idiot when he talks. There are faux-academics who just may not have the money for grad school, but want everyone to think they’re smart. But there is one that may encompass every element of the post-college identity crisis better than any. That is what my friends and I have christened the “High Fructose Crunchy.”
Going “green” has become pretty cool right now. There are farmer’s markets everywhere, with guides to seasonal produce and the benefits of grass-fed beef. Sites like Etsy are full of repurposed clothing so you’ll never have to buy anything factory made again. And in a city like New York, there are so many ingredients available that it’s pointless to buy a pre-packaged sandwich or a paper cup of coffee. So you’d think that anyone wanting to carve out an identity as an earth-conscious nonconformist would have an easy time of it. But somehow, something gets lost in translation with the HFC.
When crafting an image, one is naturally image conscious, and the HFC is all about the illusion of greenness without actually making any sacrifices. The Male HFC is a pretty simple beast. Most likely at an age where blond spikes in his hair was all the rage in high school, he is no stranger to hair care. Thus, he continues with the skin tone-flattering highlights but insists on taking a shower only every three days to conserve water. The clothing is newly purchased and intentionally tattered, and for some reason he is convinced that listening to Phish means he cares more issues. He may or may not know that fruit grows in seasons.
The Female HFC is slightly different, as she generally feels she musn’t ruin her appearance to fight the power. Jeans have been swapped out for leggings, Indian-style shirts come with intricate embroidery, and she adorns herself with bangles, headbands and anything else vaguely ethnic looking. She would join the peace corps if Africa wasn’t so hot, and she swears her hair naturally gets that light in the sun.
So my question is, why? It would be one thing if all this was just a fashion statement. Wear what you want, do your hair how you want, I have no problem with that. But why not end it there? Why insist that you know and care everything about the issues when you don’t?
Because after over two decades of grading and testing and proving our theses, we will always be students. What, you thought we’d go 22 years unscathed? We have been engineered to be on the defensive, to be constantly proving ourselves against an onslaught of rejection letters and red pens. We want people to know we mean something. For instance, this essay was about to turn into a rant about how much I’m annoyed by the HFCs, but a nagging voice told me I needed to have a relateable conclusion. I can’t just be angry, I have to have a point.
Older adults I know say this is a phase. Eventually you turn 50, you know who you are, and you don’t give a fuck what other people think. For all I know, most 20-somethings have already hit this phase. But more likely, we just think we have. Besides, nobody can actually believe that those gladiator sandals look good.
HFC male illustration courtesy of Matt Lubchansky of The Adam. HFC female illustration courtesy of Rie Ma.
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