Beware of the Symbols You Wear

March 20, 2011
biohazard-148696_640Are you paying attention to the symbols in your wardrobe? 

I  remember my “cyber-goth” days, when I used to wear symbols like nuclear and biohazard without a reason, and absolute no awareness of their meaning.
It came to my mind only lately: I’m totally against nuclear, and watching this symbol made me think about how many people have it tattooed on their skin, have t-thirts with it… Just think about Cyberdog, the most famous brand of cyber clothing. Many items carry the radioactive symbol! When I used to wear it I actually didn’t think about the meaning at all, it was just a symbol meaning radioactivity, something like “hey, I’m dangerous!”. I really didn’t want to say “hey, I love nuclear and want this world to end!”

So, what about the symbols that we carry each day without even noticing?
What about the military wear? It doesn’t make sense to me. We’re all for peace, we know that war is an awful thing… and we wear combat pants; we wear grades on our shirts. What’s wrong with us?
Is it some kind of catharsis? Or are we just too indifferent to notice that some things are just wrong?
Then there is the opposite trend: wearing peace symbols. Fucking peace symbols everywhere! I really would like to ask people who are wearing them, “What are you doing for peace? Are you voting the right politicians? Are you helping people who live in countries hit by war?”

Ok,  I’ll say something about religions, too! Crosses. The cross is a religious symbol (I don’t want to say catholic, because it’s not, it’s an ancient symbol that has been used in so many religions before Jesus Christ was created) and we’re wearing it like it’s nothing. I’m the first one, I love my crosses everywhere, I put them wherever they fit, neck, ears, t-shirts! Do you ever think that someone could think you’re religious even if you’re not? I’m definitely not, I just like the symbol, but I’m often asked if I am.
Not to mention rosaries: I’m into them since I went through my goth period. Or lately we’re all about the sacred heart .

I’ve found this post that could be interesting for you! She talks about religious symbols, but also about the keffiyeh (kefiah), which is another politic/religious symbol I used to wear in my teenage years, and had no absofuckinglutely idea of what I was carrying around. Now I know, and feel pity for adult people who wear it for fashion ‘s sake.

What do you think about it? Do you feel offended by people carrying symbols? Do you think it’s a right thing to do? Do you feel that garments should mean something more than “fashion”?


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Hey, it's Elisa, the woman who founded in 2010, when it was called styleBizarre. I gave this blog to another awesome woman and she's now running the whole thing: Cynthia. If you want to follow me on my website or social media please click on the icons that are probably showing somewhere around this text box :D

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I'm still one of the biohazard wearers.. and proud! =]

I really think that some symbols are so much used and abused nowadays that they mean nothing more than "hello, i'm a pop culture icon".. like crosses and swastikas. something like what happened to marilyn monroe and hitler's faces: they are on tshirts and posters because they symbolize good and evil. we must try to look beyond the original meaning of the icon to understand what it now stands for.

That being said, my biohazard has a special meaning to me. I don't plan to get rid of it soon =]


Oh well, biohazard refers to virus and human diseases, not nuclear, so I guess I was wrong talking about it in this context!
Io purtroppo ero cyberotta accanita quindi probabilmente qualche radioattivo su qualche maglietta ce l'avro' pure avuto!
My concern is about carrying symbols that we don't know at all! I wear crosses and I'm proud, because I don't like cristianity and their monopoly about many symbols that don't belong to them!
By the way, I'd never go around with a little happy Hitler face on my t-shirt. It's just wrong, making thing lose their meaning also means forgetting about history and things happened!
Non pensi?


I agree with you on this issue…I would not wear a kefiah right now and I have never been wearing any dictatorship symbol…but for example crosses are cool, graphically speaking, and military gear is cool too, it's a kind of aesthetic that I like…I know that I am not a soldier and I don't even like war but I used to love combat pants because they are super comfy, full of pockets, perfect if you are traveling a lot and stuff like that! 🙂

Laura Connell

I tend not to wear symbols unless they are meaningful for me. I wear my cross because it is a symbol of Christ to me not a fashion statement.

Fajr | Stylish Thought

I definitely think people need to be aware of what they are wearing. Even if they do not wear it to make a statement, you should know what the symbols mean and that boils down to the labels we wear as well.


The keffiyeh was big when I was a kid and people knew exactly what it meant. They wore it out of rebellion.

Fashion Limbo

I guess it really is about knowing what you are wearing, and not wearing things for the sake of being trendy. Knowledge is power, and if you wear a statement, make sure you agree with it and wear it proudly, freedom of speech right?
I've worn the keffiyeh, I know what it may mean, I know it may "bug" some people (including my own father), I don't wear it in a frivolous way.

I've also worn crosses fully aware of the meaning they carry.

I completely agree with fashion/symbol responsibility, this a great post and is worth considering what your are saying through your clothing before walking out of the door.


Yes, that's what I meant: it's ok wearing a symbol if you know what it means and you're fully aware of the "risks" and the message you carry around! Even if it's ironical or critical! I was only talking about the "fashion" way to wear symbols, not people who really wear something because of their religion or belief!

Rachel @ a la Modest

Most people just see the cross as a religious symbol. That’s because it’s most popular form is religious—the crucifix with Jesus on the cross. It’s really just a Roman (non religious) symbol of torture and punishment. I don’t wear a cross for religious purposes even though I believe in Christianity. I think religious ornaments or clothes of any kind are tacky, ritualistic, and even commercial. I stay away from it at all costs. If I do wear a cross, it would be because I think it looked cool.


Not sure if I should get a handbag with our lady of guadelupe (day of the dead skeleton style) as an athiest. It’s beautifully done but I don’t want to offend…. Thanks for the post, helping me with my decision 🙂


In my country I haven’t seen people with fashionable crosses, rosaries and so on. But peace symbols are more popular. I also have seen people with pagan (norse or slavic like hammer of Thor and kolovrat) symbols. People also wear our national symbols like white eagle and P + kotwica.
It’s impossible to wear swastika; that’s not really illegal but promotion of nazism is. I’m not sure if I could even wear a cross because insulting of religious symbols in public is illegal. Biohazard symbol is new to me as a fashion accessory, before reading it I didn’t know it’s used as fashion thing.
From symbols mentioned in your post I wear only peace symbol being pacyfist and I also sometimes wear lunula – pendant in form of moon what is also connected with religion.

According to your questions:
Do I feel offended by people wearing symbols? No, I haven’t seen a symbol which can offend me… may a black swastika in white circle in red background, but I am one of people who want to end this fear of swastika when it’s not in this colour and this background 🙂 I also feel offended when someone wear national symbol and then behave in such a way that I, as a part of nation, feel embarrassed. But it’s rather connected with behavior.
Do I think it’s a right thing to do? So, let’s still talk about national symbol. You meet a person with kotwica (symbol from second world war) on t-shirt and (s)he tells sth about II W W showing that during lesson of history (s)he was looking for the t-shirt in allegro on a smartphone instead of listening and still thinks that Katyń was done by the Germany (it’s fault of Soviets)… Then it’s not right thing. But when you know sth it is right.
Do you feel that garments should mean something more than “fashion”? Yes, I find it beautiful to say who you are by your clothes 🙂


    Hi Sławomira, thank you for your comment! It was very interesting getting to know how you see this issue. I’m glad there are people like you out there that have respect for other people choices 😀

Emily O'Malley

In terms of biohazard or nuclear symbols, I think those can be worn to symbolize the idea of living in a dystopian world without necessarily glorifying that. In the same way, dystopian novels present that type of world without saying it would be a positive place to live. Things like the biohazard symbol could even be worn as a sign of protest, as a statement about the current state of affairs. Motives for wearing those symbols can vary. Some may just like it aesthetically, some may use it to signify a certain subculture, and others may be using it to make a broader statement.

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