Horses in The Back; Yeehaw clothes attached

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If you haven’t heard the song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X yet, or you don’t have your horses in the back, then it’s doubtful that you know about Game of Thrones season eight or that the current year is 2019. However, if you have managed to evade all media, then welcome to this article solely about a new “yeehaw” trend of music, memes, and of course, clothes.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause or purpose of a successful youth culture trend, whether joking or serious, but Lil Nas X seems to have stirred something real within the world of media. With rising city populations and increasing property prices, the country lifestyle and the culture it entails is earning mainstream appreciation from all types of Millennials, and Gen Zers alike. You don’t have to be from a small southern town or even know who George Strait is to understand the appeal of unashamed, western originality. Though country music may be the least desired genre by many people, and the culture often deemed close-minded or drastically white, it’s worth it to look deeper into what this new “yeehaw” trend represents.

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The Wild West has long been the idealized heartbeat of American hope, opportunity, danger, freedom, and this major sense of addictive allurement. But that specific West is dead, and a more modern sense of what it means to be country exists throughout America’s backroads, and while there are still steep racial issues embedded in southern history and current culture, that’s not to say that this new, weird, western/modern trend is to be just as divided. In fact, Lil Nas X has already succeeded in merging this divide through “western rap” which Billy Ray Cyrus has remixed and even appeared in. Though this collaboration may seem random and an exception to the western identity, it is anything but. Historically, people of all colors have helped to define America’s “Old West” and still define it today, they just haven’t been given the same kind of vocal platform of expression.

So while the music industry will not officially accept “Old Town Road” as a country song, and though we may never receive another “western rap,” I believe that for however long this fascination with country lifestyle exists, it will help redefine and broaden the identity of American southern culture. That being said, here are a few suggestions on how to incorporate just a bit of that laid-back, horse-lovin’ spirit into your own style, no matter what you define that to be.

  1. Denim jackets and/or bold collared coats, especially with Americana accents and neutral, earth tones. It’s ok to be bold, that’s the western way!

  2. Bandanas and neck scarfs, tied with a pistol packin’ attitude. Don’t hesitate to add a drawstring hat to that look.

  3. Bell bottom jeans with a saddle worthy high-rise or boot cut jeans, rolled up in a 1950’s style. In fact, 1950’s cowboys may be the best era of fashion ever IMHO.

  4. A pair of good dancin’ boots, not to be mistaken for your ranchin’ boots. If you already own a pair for Baylor football games, don’t be afraid to wear them for other occasions and with colors other than green or gold!

  5. Turquoise jewelry pieces. No matter how small, add a bit of “Arizona blues” to your look. Especially if you happen to have a turquoise bolo tie, then you’re probably more western than the entire Baylor student population combined.

You may take this trend and this article as what is might seem to be, a trendy joke. But in actuality I think that our acceptance of certain aspects of “yeehaw” culture is indicative of a much larger trend: expanding our understandings of less accessible environments and broadening our ideas of what genres or styles can mean for others. Lil Nas X is a far cry from Marty Robbins, and western style may not be liked by everyone, but it is important that it be inclusive enough for everyone to do so. There are still fashion lines never to be crossed, and insensitive fashions to be avoided, but it’s a really cool thing to see a rather funny but catchy rap song open a window to an ever evolving and increasingly inclusive music, meme and fashion culture. It’s that sense of unbridled opportunity that is the epitome of the West, and what I hope remains long after this trend rides off into the sunset.

Oh, and if you don’t actually know who George Strait is, please correct that soon.

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Written by: Camryn Thane

Edited by: Abby Sowder

Photos by: Camryn Thane