Society - People
By: - at March 1, 2013

What is a Weirdo? Defining Weirdness in Society

Lady Gaga“Watch out for the weirdos, girls.” “We are the weirdos, mister.” That is a quote from the 90’s cult movie, “The Craft”. What makes and defines cultural norms? Why is it that we tend to seek conformity rather than break away from the norms of society? And what about those that do; how is our judgment for the “way they are” validated against our own self-identities?

Taboo Behavior Tattooed Face

Our behavior may or may not define the type of person who we are, but we often times can’t help but pass judgment on people we do not know based on their behavior. I’ve watched “Taboo” on the National Geographic Channel. They showcase many people that do not fit the norms of society, and try to shed a new light onto why they are the way they are. I have seen a man in love with balloons, another one in love with a car; I even watched an episode where a woman was in love romantically with the Berlin Wall.


Guy Kissing CarI have also seen episodes about how people choose to drastically alter their physical appearances. Although the altering of one’s appearance is a behavior in itself; this does not automatically reflect their inner-self. Behavioral expectations and labeling that “typical society” casts upon individuals, does not always accurately define who people really are. The man covered with tattoos and piercing may just be the biggest sweetheart ever.

Weird Tattooed Face


We feel threatened by those who don’t want to play by the “rules”. And there are rules in this world, a code if you will. As time goes by, society chips away at the rules we have set in stone. As we progress in society, certain “shock values” wane as far as what is and is not acceptable. The bar is constantly being raised as to what is an “abnormal” or “weird” person. For example, it has become generally socially acceptable to be openly gay, bisexual, or a lesbian in today’s American society, whereas 60 years ago it would have been cause for a major uproar. There are certain states now that allow gay marriage, just a few decades back the entire concept would have been unfathomable.

How We Look Defines Us

Old European WigChris Brown with Glasses

Just under 300 years ago, it was fashionable and popular for prominent men to wear large, white, curly wigs. It was the norm of society. Nowadays, if someone wore the same type of wig, we would most certainly stare and laugh, and most would label that person a weirdo. This just goes to show that fashions and trends change so much over time. What is acceptable attire now will be dubbed “out of date” or “tacky” in the future, although some trends may resurface from time to time. I notice more and more lately that the youth culture of America is obsessed with looking like “nerds” and “geeks”, often wearing big geeky glasses that are solely worn as a fashion statement and not even necessary for proper vision. It used to be that you would want to look the furthest thing from a nerd possible, but in today’s “anything goes” society, it has somehow managed to make an imprint into high fashion.

Just go to the local mall and look at the teen clothing stores. There are neon high-top sneakers, neon stretch-pants, and leg warmers; all stemming from popular 80’s trends. Rewind back to the mid 90’s when grunge was all the rage. Anyone caught in 80’s garb would surely be dubbed “out of style” or even a “weirdo”. Nowadays, if we see somebody dressed in 90’s grunge attire, some would probably think to themselves, “Go back to the 90’s Kurt Cobain-wannabe!”

90's GirlGrunge Singer

The point is; physical appearance and clothing choices are what create all of our unique “avatars”, and that is the first information a person receives visually when they see someone they don’t know. From there, we automatically create our judgments in our minds. But there is a psychological reason for this. We have certain “survival of the fittest” instincts that are very primal, and those instincts often send us little “alarms” into our conscious awareness and cause us to back away when we observe a person who does not register in our own set spectrums of “normalness”. Only through education, observation, and understanding, can we begin to stifle our own natural, negative reactions to unsettling physical differences of another human being. It may be cliché, but it is important to never judge a book by its cover.

Our “Normal” Is Defined As What We’ve Come to Know

Cultural Nose adaptationStacked Rings Around Neck

We may think of isolated tribal people of Brazil or New Guinea, with their primitive dress (or lack thereof) as “weird”. We have all seen the pictures in National Geographic. Many of these isolated primitive tribal people do crazy body alterations or put sharp sticks through their lips or noses. However, if you look through their point of view, I‘m sure it is we who are the strange ones.

If you are a woman in Burma, you are considered unattractive if you do not have an elongated neck caused by winding heavy brass coils around it. In America, most men would be a little more than freaked out by a woman with a neck that is longer than a foot-long sub sandwich. But who is the “weirdo” here? There is no right or wrong answer; everything is up to interpretation by an individual. If you were from Burma, a normal-necked American would seem like an ugly freak.

Nature and nurture play a key role in how we think about each other.  Our behavior and reasoning is determined from how we are affected by our surroundings. We can only be “who we are”. This is probably the best way to explain how a person’s entire package of looks and personality are fundamentally formed.

Many of the judgments we pass onto another person stem from deep-rooted insecurities and fears. It is comforting for many people to validate themselves at the expense of others. Studies show that the happier we truly are, the less we tend to pass negative judgment. This is because when we are content with ourselves, we tend to focus on the positive, and it reflects on our behavior.

It’s Okay to be Weird!

Muscle Man in Heels pushing Wheelchair with Machinegun Armed Man

Some people embrace the fact that they are an oddball in society. Some of the most brilliant, talented, and creative people throughout history have been dubbed “weirdos”. The world would be a very boring place if there were not so many different people from so many walks of life, and we need to celebrate our differences rather than outcast those who do not resemble our ideals for an acceptable person.





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