Being a geek is a label I identify with closely. I watch and own a ton of my favorite anime series and movies, read a lot of shojo manga in my spare time, and play video games. I even own some cool action figures thanks to my own purchases or friends who have been kind enough to give them to me as gifts. If you met me in real life, I doubt anyone would instantly slap on the geek label. Not on the surface anyway. This is why outer appearances are always deceiving.
When I first heard the term “geek chic,” I never understood what exactly this term meant or where it came from. Is it a term to define geeks as cool? Is it a fashion term? What is it exactly? Good thing there’s Google to the rescue!
What I came to understand about geek chic is it’s a style trend to come out of the fashion world. Geek chic embraces all that’s typically geeky, like wearing glasses or wearing T-shirts with Hello Kitty or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the front and making the style “fashion cool.” Those who dress like this for style purposes are pseudo-geeks who probably never read a Batman comic book or touched a game controller in their life. As one of the definitions from Urban Dictionary has described, “identical to hipsters but verge more towards being into comic books, pop culture, technology, etc. rather than hipsters who are more into poetry, brooding, and generally being pretentious.”
I don’t completely agree with Urban Dictionary’s definition of geek chic. Geek chic lovers are most certainly hipster geeks, but fake in their passion, devotion, and love for all things geeky. The fashion world and even celebrities have embraced the concept of geek chic, back when this trend really boomed. I do recall seeing in the fashion section of a newspaper I read how the very smart looking and stylish black horn rimmed glasses was a trend a ton of people liked to wear, prescription glasses or not. The trend setters wore those particular style of glasses because it made them look super smart, chic, and…geeky?
The idea of wearing non-prescription glasses as an accessory you toss on before leaving the house for the day is completely absurd. Last time I checked, geeks have been seen as people to look down on or to ridicule. Wearing glasses has also been considered unattractive when I was a kid. I still remember an episode of Full House where Stephanie Tanner finds out she has to wear glasses and is completely horrified by the idea. She feared being considered a freak or made fun of for wearing them. Four-eyes was a common insult to throw at people who wasn’t blessed with 20/20 vision.
These days I don’t look like an obvious geek, as society or the media has defined it. Maybe back then when I was a little girl who has been seen as fat, ugly, and awkward by her peers. Boy, kids sure are mean. In any case, geeks have been unfairly viewed under a harsh light. We aren’t all fat, ugly, socially awkward, or locked in our basements with the glowing television screen and gaming console as our only friend. Any true geek knows this is a flawed image. We live well rounded lives and we aren’t married to our computer games or consoles. What we do have is passion for skillfully crafted worlds, characters, and stories that leave lasting impressions on us. We gravitate towards people who share those very same experiences and passions with us, so that we can discuss our impressions and just geek out together. Being a geek is not a badge of shame.
Going back to what I said about not looking like the “typical geek,” I’ll admit I don’t dress like one either. I don’t wear T-shirts that shows off an anime or video game character or a geeky quote or saying from a favorite TV show or movie. I don’t typically carry around bags or accessories that would proudly scream, “I’m geeky, hear me roar!” My style has always been ultra feminine with splashes of pastels and wrapping soft scarves around my neck. I can even admit to wearing the ultra chic black horn rimmed glasses (prescription of course) that has defined the geek chic style. Does this make me a pseudo-geek?
Maybe those who let their geek flag fly louder than I do may write me off as a wannabe geek on first appearances alone, but those who make the effort to actually talk to me and get to know me will find we share the same interests. Any talk of Mass Effect or Dragon Age will have me fangirling instantly. Talk Lost to me, and I will explain why I’m part of that small percentage of fans who doesn’t think the ending was as bad as everyone made it out to be when the series ended three years ago. I’m a legitimate geek, and I have the evidence to back it up. To emulate being geeky from a fashion angle is more pretentious and fake. Wearing glasses is made for those who really need to use them to see clearly, not to look smart or “geeky chic.”
Geek chic should be about making geekdom cool and not a style conscious effort the fashion world has seized upon to set the next wave of ever changing trends. Who really wants to be geek hipsters? It’s bad enough we have regular hipsters to begin with. We don’t need to add geeky hipsters to the equation. The better definition for geek chic should be a person who shows the world how having a geeky passion is truly kickass and expresses them in however manner they see fit. Cosplay? Work the conventions as if it’s your own catwalk. A comic artist? Share your work with the entire world. Bottom line, you have to have the geek cred to back it up. Geeky pursuits and geeky people are sexy. Don’t just dress like a geek, but really own the identity of geek. We’re a cool bunch. Promise.