UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s notorious advice that we should all ‘hug a hoodie’ has been much publicised and discussed. After the London riots it has come under scrutiny again. Hoodies, certainly among the older generation, have evolved all sorts of negative connotations. Many young people, however, do not understand why this should be so.
For many totally law-abiding young people, the humble hoodie is a warm, comfortable clothing choice and nothing more. Personalised hoodies have become especially popular among the younger generation, being a great way to show your support for a club, team, group or cause.
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Lots of youngsters get hooded sweatshirts made up as a keepsake from old schools, or fun group holidays. Hoodies are frequently used as a way to remember positive experiences. So why do hoodie-wearers have such a bad reputation?
One possibility is that, although the vast majority of youngsters wear hoodies, the only ones who make it into the media are those that are up to no good. This could lead older people to assume that it is young thugs and criminals alone who wear hoodies. This could mean that all hoodies, even friendly personalised hoodies, get unfairly judged and maligned.
Exposure to perfectly nice youngsters who wear personalised hoodies, or hoodies in general, could help the older generations to realise that the image of the dangerous, out-of-control youngsters in hoodies, is not the norm.
Another element which might make people wary of hoodie wearers, whether they wear personalised hoodies or otherwise, is the physical shape and style of hoodies and promotional hoodies. You will no doubt have seen signs in shop windows which read: ‘NO HOODS IN STORE’. The fact that hoodies have an, eponymous, hood might sound obvious but it is something which can make people nervous because it obscures the faces of wearers.
The images in the media of faceless gangs of youths in hoodies, even in personalised hoodies, can look particularly menacing, simply because their faces are hidden. When you are unable to see the faces of large groups it can seem scary because of the lack of human connection. Mostly, however, this prejudice against the humble hoodie is a media construct, mixed with just a little bit of class snobbery and fear of the young…an unpleasant cocktail when you think about it.