The term vegging is usually used to describe the act of relaxing or just sitting around, but there is a small community that are looking to reclaim the word and use it to talk about another, wholly different kind of activity. Vegging, in this instance, is the act of dressing up as vegetables. No one knows how it started, but Instagram has been the main platform for those with a penchant for donning fibrous and starchy garments to express themselves. Potato selfies began to appear in feeds, which then grew into a community of veggers across the UK.
I meet up with Tom, a 24 year old seasoned vegger at a cafe in south London. He is wearing a beige one-piece which is unmistakably a parsnip outfit. On closer inspection one can see that it’s made up of several vest tops sewn together, which taper down towards his feet so that he has to walk around by shuffling.
‘When I graduated I felt pretty lost. I was applying for jobs I didn’t really want and it was like I was just coasting through, but then I started vegging and things just seemed to make more sense after that. I guess it made me feel more empowered, but also connected to the world around me.’
Tom tells me that his parsnip outfit used to be made up of just a few loose vest tops that would constantly be falling off, but over the months he’s adapted and improved it. I get the impression that part of the appeal of vegging is the idea of working towards something, and the excitement of evolving. I ask Tom if he would be better off with just buying a vegetable outfit from a fancy dress shop.
‘I could, but it just wouldn’t be the same. I mean, I doubt a parsnip costume would be readily available at a fancy dress shop anyway, but there’d also be no connection with the vegetable. Every time I make an improvement that makes it look more like a parsnip, I get a massive rush – I guess it also feels like I’m also improving as a person.’
One trend that seems to stick out as I browse the various Instagram posts is that the majority of veg selfies are taken by men. Is this a symptom of the current masculinity crisis? I speak to Ian, a 32 year old vegger in Scunthorpe, whose chosen mode of dress is a swede. I ask him how vegging effects his gender and his everyday life.
‘I feel like I don’t really have an identity as a man, apart from the one that people have placed on me. With vegging, I feel like I’ve created my own identity and it’s something I can be proud of. Sometimes my mates tease me, like if we’re at the pub and I go to the toilet, I’ll come back to find a carrot on my chair, but it’s just a bit of banter, you know?’
It seems that through the fog of the masculinity crisis, the act of vegging is gradually becoming more lucid. As it grows in popularity, it grows in its ability to create a sense of purpose and instil a set of values that contribute to what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
In the women’s section of H&M, I surreptitiously browse green tights and matching vest tops as the image of a purple sprouting broccoli outfit gradually puts itself together in my mind.