Society is made up of all different types of people, with different ethnic, religious, and national cultures. There is also a wide variety of subcultures that many have never even heard of. Sure, we all know teenagers who love to dress in black and call themselves “goth” or “emo”, as well as established cultures and organizations like the Hell’s Angels who ride throughout the United States on the backs of motorcycles in leather gear.
One thing that most subcultures have in common is that they veer from the norm and establish what they consider to be their own norm. Members of these subcultures have a different set of beliefs than most members in the larger society and culture surrounding them. While some people enter a subculture with a clear aim to establish themselves as different, others have a strong set of convictions that naturally draws them into a particular subculture. Those that live within the boundaries of societal norms may be surprised about some of the odd subcultures that exist. Take a look at 10 of the weirdest subcultures in the world and learn what makes each one tick.
10. The Pro-Anorexia Internet Subculture
One of the most dangerous subcultures comes with a dangerous and hefty price tag, although not a monetary one. It’s well-known that anorexia can cause countless health problems, and inevitably leads to death. However, there are pro-anorexia websites and user forums that promote this disease as a positive way of life. The desperation of many women (and even men), as well as teens, to be skinny leads to them thinking anorexia is a positive thing rather than negative. The web is filled with sites and message boards touting the benefits of anorexia and methods a person can take to achieve this life-threatening label.
9. The Mexican Pointed Shoe Subculture
Head on down to the Mexican city of Matehula where wearing large, colorful, and even sparkly pointed shoes is all the rage. Resembling shoes worn by court jesters in Medieval times, these shoes are worn by traditional music enthusiasts. The music of the area combines Hispanic and African traditions and encourages people to dance in the street. Before large, pointed shoes became the norm, people competed with each other for who could wear the pointiest dance shoes. Eventually, dancers became more extreme until donning unusually long, pointed shoes became an everyday thing for Matehulastreet dancing.
8. The Japanese Gyaru Subculture
In an effort to live a life of unmatched beauty, young women in Japan have created their own subculture much different from that centuries-old geisha culture, craving an unusually modern look. Most girls in the Gyaru culture make it a point to look almost exactly like the other, donning fashions that allow them to stand out from the crowd, but look uniform when together. They wear big hair wigs, the biggest shoes they can find, the shortest skirts, and create large, popping eyes with makeup to achieve a look that lets everyone know what subculture they belong to. Some even go to extreme lengths to achieve unusually light skin tones.
7. The Elvis Presley Rebel Subculture
Elvis Presley may have come from the American south, but the culture of Elvis Presley Rebels is found in of all places Switzerland. Formed in the 1950s at the same time Presley and other “rebels” like James Dean rose to fame, the Elvis Presley Rebels found a Swiss identity all their own by imitating the looks and fashion of these American icons. Tight denim jeans, leather jackets, flamboyant rhinestones and embellishments on their clothing, and a desire to be different define the Elvis Presley Rebels, a subculture that lives on to this day, despite the long ago death of the man who inspired its name and practices.
6. The Otherkin Subculture
Everyone feels a little different every once in a while, as if they are not a part of this society, but the Otherkin subculture takes things a bit further. This group of people connect through the Internet and feel they are something other than human. They believe they are a result of reincarnation and that they were mythical creatures—or even aliens—in a former life. Some of the creatures Otherkin members believe they were derived from include angels, devils, fairies, and vampires.
5. The Norwegian Black Metal Subculture
While the anorexic subculture defies the best health advice, the Norwegian Black Metal subculture defies the law. This group came to be in the early 1990s and rebelled against Christianity in heinous and violent ways, often committing arson and even murder. This group of non-law abiding citizens rejects everything Christianity stands for and wants a return to worshiping Norse gods from centuries ago. They dress in death metal attire and throw their hands up at mainstream society, forming a dangerous subculture throughout Norway.
4. The Lolita Subculture
Originating in Japan during the 1990s, the Lolita subculture has found its way across the world in recent years and depends on very feminine girls and their naughty ways. The girls dress in frilly dresses, but often with a dark undertone. The ruffles and frills are often black, as are the satin ribbons found in their hair. Some Lolita groups even have girls wearing traditional kimonos as part of their alluring look. Other Lolita groups go for that old-fashioned look that accessorizes with bonnets, petticoats, parasols, and knee socks. The word Lolita comes from the 1955 novel of the same name.
3. The Miss Barbie Venezuela Subculture
Live women in beauty pageants often look plastic enough, but in Venezuela a subculture exists that is based on an actual plastic doll. Barbie dolls take center stage in an annual beauty pageant where the 11.5-inch fashion doll struts her stuff, with the help of human owners, of course. The owners of the dolls take this subculture as seriously as any real-live beauty pageant contestant and even act as their dolls for a question and answer portion of the contest. In order to win this elaborate pageant filled with toys, dolls must wear their best evening gowns and swimsuits, while having perfect hair and even makeup.
2. The Elevator Enthusiasts Subculture
Riding an elevator is nothing but a necessary, everyday occurrence for some people and they think nothing of it. There are too many stairs to take or stairs may only be designated for emergencies in some buildings. For others, riding an elevator becomes a phobia. But, for the Elevator Enthusiasts subculture, riding elevators is both an obsession and an art form. These people take elevator riding to an extreme, with a goal of riding different elevators across the globe and documenting their experiences for the world to see on YouTube.
1. The Sapeur Subculture
Forget New York and Paris and enter the African Congo if you want to see dapper men donning extreme high fashion. This war-torn center of the world where many live in extreme poverty and fight for their lives everyday is also home to men who look better than runway models in the richest cities in the world. These men are decked out each day in double-breasted suits, tweed jackets, silk and satin handkerchiefs, and bright, shiny cufflinks. Historians surmise that this subculture has its roots in the 19th century when slave men were forced to dress dapper and fit in with their owners.