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We might as well laugh along with them

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:20 a.m. CDT

Hey friends, have you heard? If you’ve logged into any sort of social media over the past few days, it’s safe to say you probably have; if not, you’re missing out on one of Iowa’s most “highly anticipated” annual events – according to The Onion, anyway.

The Onion, despite its tagline as “America’s Finest News Source,” is a completely fake and satirical news organization that thrives on sarcastic parodies of traditional news media.

That said, it’s a rather amusing read. Case and point: headlines returned after searching the web site for “Iowa” ranged from “600-pound butter cow sculpture wins Iowa Caucus” to “High fructose corn syrup spill: the tragedy of a lifetime.”

In fact, Iowa is no stranger to The Onion’s poking fun at middle America, as the state is mentioned in nearly 150 articles published by the web site; however, the most recent of such hit a little closer to home.

“The greater Des Moines area was abuzz with excitement Monday as Iowa’s annual Fashion Week officially kicked off Monday,” the article reads.

“The highly anticipated weeklong event is reportedly expected to draw as many as 250 people to the capital region for a first glimpse at new collections from the top names in Iowa fashion, including ... veteran crochet designer Shelly Farnsworth of Jasper County.”

Farnsworth, of course, is a purely fictional character created solely for the story, but I digress.

In the style of many larger publications during New York Fashion Week (which, in my best estimation, is really just a bunch of too-skinny models walking down runways wearing bizarre fabrications that somehow pass as clothing for seven days straight), The Onion details the hot trends and cool looks of Iowa Fashion Week 2013: among them long johns, windbreakers, hooded sweatshirts and American flag–inspired sweaters.

While the article as a whole drips with sarcasm, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the assertions made toward the media’s idea of a stereotypical Iowan.

When I packed up my bags five years ago and headed to my dorm on the campus of Iowa State University, I got nearly the same reaction from each of my friends: “Iowa? Why are you moving to Iowa?”

Despite my argument that Indiana is pretty much nearly indentical to the state I now call home, they couldn’t wrap their heads around my choice to move to a state “in the middle of nowhere.”

What I think it really comes down to is that many of us, native Iowans or not, realize is that our state boasts a truly impressive array of communites – they run the gamut from thriving and bustling cities to small towns where you know someone always has your back.

Despite this, we’re always going to have someone poking fun at us, whether it’s Jon Stewart and The Daily Show who dedicated an entire 22-minute episode to satirical coverage of the Ames Straw Poll in 2011, or ELLE Magazine, whose Cintra Wilson famously harped on Iowans’ lack of fashion in her article, “Fear and Clothing at the Iowa State Fair.”

In each of these instances, I figure we have nothing better to do than laugh at ourselves. Heck, Van Meter’s Mike Draper even turned the notion into a thriving clothing company in Des Moines: RAYGUN’s products boast trademark snarky slogans such as, “Iowa: Wave the next time you fly over!” and “Grinnell: Miles from ordinary ... and from everything else.”

This lighthearted sort of playing along really drives home my point: no matter how cosmopolitan or innovative we think we might be, I guarantee that we all fall into one of the stereotypical labels constantly plastered on the Cyclone State (that’s our state nickname, right?) from time to time, so we might as well get a get a good chuckle out of it.

I’m not immune to this phenomenon, despite my many years as a Hoosier – but I suppose that might be due, in part, to the fantastic selection of vintage sweatshirts available at the Newton Goodwill.

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