Growing up, I went to the mall with my family all the time. We would have dinner at the food court and then spend time in several stores, each tailored to the interests of each member of my family. My mom could shop at many clothing stores, my dad could look around the bookstore, and my sister and I could take our pick of several stores aimed at kids. The wide expanse of stores did offer a variety of options for everyone, but came with the cost of the “off-limit” stores. There are always those few stores in malls that you do not go in when you are younger, either for inappropriate merchandise or other stigmas. Surprisingly, one such store for me was Hot Topic, as it was for many other kids growing up. The deafening aura of the small, dim store known as Hot Topic with its loud, grunge music and “goth” merchandise has led to its shunning by several, more conservative families such as mine. In more recent years, I discovered the worlds of K-Pop and Anime and desperately set out on a mission to find stores which fueled these interests. At long last, I was able to squeeze my way into my local Hot Topic and realized I had discovered my holy grail. No longer were my interests ignored or seen as weird. I wasn’t forced to go shop at stores with “normal” clothes and accessories. I finally found a store where I could be myself.
So why? Why did I never go to this store before? Why did people look the other way when they passed it? Why did Hot Topic have such a bad stigma against it? I don’t think these questions can ever accurately be answered. Stereotypes are a hard thing to explain and comprehend and most of the time they stem from nonsense. Thus, I propose we break this stigma and stereotype. Hot Topic should no longer be viewed as this evil dungeon where only Satan worshippers shop. Hot Topic is such an inclusive and diverse store, yet people let its stereotype overshadow these amazing attributes. Since its creation in 1989, Hot Topic has listened to the weirdos. When society was forcing people to be normal, Hot Topic provided a place where people could be themselves and fuel their interests and passions. On Hot Topic’s website, they have a history section where they include momentous steps the store has taken over the last 30 years. Throughout the years, whenever a pop culture fandom began taking charge, Hot Topic was right there with them, leading the pack and encouraging them to not be ashamed of their interest. In 1991 on their timeline, Hot Topic says “We were labeled punks, geeks, weirdos, goths, rockers- and we didn’t care. It was our passion for music and pop culture that mattered”. The outcasting of “weirdos” throughout society is such a nonsensical movement. People should be allowed to like the things they like, and Hot Topic acknowledged this. They took the weird, the obscure, the odd, and broadcasted it to the world. They let people know that they do not have to be ashamed of what they love. Hot Topic continues to work towards inclusivity for everyone, yet society has continued to label them an outcast. Maybe, one day the world will see the value of Hot Topic and eventually learn from them.