Everyone has encountered a "freak" at one time or another, whether at the mall or on the street or at a family function. They are most everywhere. When I use the term "freak" I don't mean it in any demeaning manner. I am referring to the outrageously dressed people in black ill-matched clothing, blue or green hair, wearing morbid make-up and pierced in every place imaginable. You know, those people you stop to stare at as you say, "Oh my God!" in awe or horror, whom Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones frequently have makeover shows for. The freak subculture is one I'd like to analyze because its major characteristic pertains to fashion. There has been an ongoing debate about whether subculture fashions really maintain authenticity and serve a purpose as a means of social reform or do they fall victims to the commercial industry as meaningless fashion fads. There are many views about the power of rebellious dress and the effects of corporate control. What I intend to prove is that when freak fashion is commercialized, all meaning and value is destroyed. .
Fashion is a means of expressing one's identity. In today's society many times judgement of a person first depends on their appearance. Tim Dant, in Material Culture, touches on how the different ways people relate to clothing fashions (ignoring, following, leading) is a reflection of how they position themselves in society (89). Subcultures use fashion to oppose society by not conforming to the popular ideal. The freak culture is a prime example to discuss subversive fashion because its essence is all about controversial appearance. It is basically a youth following with origins in Goth and punk styles and has expanded to skaters and the club scene of rave. The outlandish practice of body piercing and altering the normal presence of the average teen is a form of rebellion against constricting parents, peers, and society. Freaks also oppose conformity and commodity in popular culture.