Pop culture

The Craziest Trends and Fads from the Early 2010s

From Silly Bandz to planking, it's hard to believe these wild trends were everywhere less than a decade ago.
Reading time 10 minutes

The 2010s were a wild time. Amidst the proliferation of social media culture and plenty of wild happenings in fashion, they both flew by and are a reminder of just how far we've come in ten years.

We are here to help with the latter. The 2010s featured some incredible, cringeworthy, yet hilarious trends and fads. With the internet ruling our lives but not yet in the refined way it does today, everyone was participating in strange movements, clamoring for attention and not caring who knows it. With how wild some of these trends and fads were, perhaps TikTok antics aren't so far removed from millennials as teens, after all.

Dystopian Fiction

Considering the wild decade we just had, and the even wilder decade we've just entered, it's nice to reflect on how we used to enjoy Dystopia, in the form of fiction of course. While the genre was popular before and continues to be after the early 2010s, these sci-fi novels and films really took hold of society at this time, with The Hunger Games and Divergent leading the pack. Millions were captivated by the action, the drama, and the love triangles, which could honestly be a fad of their own (we're looking at you, Twi-Hards), but this major trend brought people together, whether they were Team Peeta or Team Gale. 

Just Girly Things

With the rising popularity of Tumblr and Instagram at the beginning of the decade came the rise of Just Girly Things. You remember, those Pinterest-esque pictures of teens laughing and having fun with captioning like "remembering the good times: just girly things." While we're pretty sure these posts weren't just describing things girls do, we may never forget the romanticized world of pumpkin spice lattes and fishtail braids that has been parodied endlessly, while still being the source of inspiration for girls growing up on the internet. 

#YOLO

The acronym shouted around the world, YOLO would have to be my word of the decade. We first started hearing the catchy term for "You Only Live Once" on the internet and then, embarassingly enough, we actually began saying it in casual conversation and shouting it through the halls of middle schools across the nation. While young people on the internet popularized this philosophical term, albeit simplified into an annoyingly catchy phrase we've now heard 200 million times, YOLO became a way of life, and soon enough, we even heard our parents use it.   

Silly Bandz

At the turn of the 2010s, who didn't want various shapes of colorful rubber bands to wear on their wrists like cheap jewelry? A big hit during the earlier part of the decade, these animal/princess/anything-you-can-imagine-shaped rubber bands were all the rage. Simple, replaceable, inexpensive, and personalized, it’s easy to see why these were such a hit among reality stars, Sarah Jessica Parker (seriously!), and that kid you knew who had a whole rainbow of them running up their forearm. 

Jersey Shore

What a time. The original series only ran from 2009 to the end of 2012, but with the collection of spin-offs, the show never really left our collective consciousness. That could also just be a side effect of watching it; it’s etched permanently in your brain. Like a parasite (but not like an orange fake tan, as those have long faded). 

The show brought with it an endless supply of trends and fads including GTL, “the poof,” “Rahn stahp,” and fist-pumping. What would our lives be without the gift that is Jersey Shore? Thank god the second half of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation season 3 is set to premiere in 2020, so we can continue this fad into the next decade.

Hair Feathers

​​​​​​Ah, hair feathers, another gift of the early ‘10s. They were all the rage if you were in middle school at that time, and in the land of pop culture, celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Hilary Duff were embracing them the way fashion girls rock maximalist barrettes today. I mean, why not attach a feather to your head and call it fashion? These died out hard, and they didn't come back with 2019's hair accessories craze

The Harlem Shake

How could we forget this one? The Harlem Shake was a funny meme addition to the trends and fads of the early 2010s. These short, crazy dancing videos to the 2012 Bauuer song “Harlem Shake,” which typically featured one person dancing in an orderly environment before everything turned into a giant party, were almost always a guaranteed laugh. Kendall and Kylie did it (pictured), T-Pain did it, and chances are, some workplace or school near you did it in an attempt to capitalize on the hype.

Extreme Contouring

By its basic definition, contouring is just using makeup to enhance certain features of the face or body, so technically, it's been around forever. But remember that time in the early 2010s when the Kardashians had taken it to new heights and beauty gurus everywhere were uploading addicting videos finding creative ways to complete the practice, like clown contouring? The Glossier age calmed this a bit, but this short-lived extremity is certainly part of the reason the Anastasia Beverly Hills palette got so popular.

The End of the World

​​​​​​The end of the world that never happened. Remember? The Mayan Calendar? 12/21/12? Came and went, just like normal. What a waste. At least we got plenty of memes out of it, plus a couple of movies (the dramatic 2012 and Seth Rogen's star-studded directorial debut, This is the End).

Kony 2012

Where is Kony? Has he been stopped? I have a lot of questions. While the cause behind the Kony 2012 documentary was good (i.e. spreading awareness of Joseph Kony, a militia leader, indicted war criminal, and fugitive who killed and abused children in eastern and central Africa), it was also met with a lot of criticism. The documentary blew up (it was the first YouTube video to hit a million likes) and the donations poured in. And then, everyone just...stopped talking about it. They didn’t capture Kony, but since they claimed the goal was awareness, was it technically a success? I vote no.

Cinnamon Challenge

Though it didn’t actually start in this decade (it’s been around since 2001), the cinnamon challenge peaked in popularity in 2012, so it definitely belongs on this list. The premise, for those unaware, is to film yourself consuming a spoonful of ground cinnamon in less than one minute with no liquid (unless you are GloZell, who used a ladle in one of the most iconic videos of the challenge). The likes of Maisie Williams tried it, but it was, of course, not too smart and also potentially dangerous, so perhaps it’s good riddance to that trend.

Planking

Planking was truly one of the dumbest fads of the 2010s but I still crack up thinking about it. Planking, i.e. mimicking a wooden plank, consists of lying flat on a surface (or multiple surfaces, or between surfaces, etc.). That’s it. That’s all it was. Phenomenal. As you can see here, Katy Perry did it as a mermaid, so what's not to love? I vote we bring this one back.

Really Effective Sunglasses

Shutter shades were arguably the best part of going to Bat Mitzvahs. These completely useless, absurd glasses were also one of the best trends and fads ever. Why wouldn’t you want a pair? Everyone looked good in them. I'm going to shoutout Kanye here for these. He didn't create them, but he's definitely the first person that comes to mind for wearing these incredible creations.

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird’s existence was short-lived, but its impact was everlasting...ish. The hit game that soared to success somewhat randomly disappeared in February 2014, after only being released in May of 2013. The creator, Dong Nguyen, removed the app after feeling guilty about the game’s overuse and addictive nature, which, fair. Even though the app was released in May, it didn’t reach peak popularity until January of 2014, when it was the most downloaded free game in the App Store for iOS. RIP, Flappy Bird.

Crackle Nails

Honestly, what? Crackle nails were the perfect way to ruin the nice colour you’d put on your nails by topping it with another coat, literally designed to crack and show little bits of what’s underneath. I repeat, honestly, what? Goodbye and good riddance. 

Vine

First of all, let me just say, RIP Vine (2013-2017). One of the superior apps that has come about, the six-second-long-video platform was a phenomenal source of entertainment. It even gave rise to some of today’s big celebrities, for better or worse (hello, Shawn Mendes; bye, Logan Paul). And while TikTok has come to take its place in pop culture, there's nothing like the iconic app that started it all.

Selfie Sticks

I will admit that SOMETIMES (infrequently) selfie sticks have served a noble purpose (I will allow them for GoPros). Other than that, they are stupid and I hate them. Big in the tourist department, these annoying little sticks allowed for everyone and their grandma to take selfies without having to strain their arms. Very cool.

Yik Yak

While Yik Yak was definitely bad (anonymous posting truly never ends well), it was also sometimes hilarious. Big on college campuses (largely because of the 5-mile radius to view “yaks”), the app allowed users to write messages which were then upvoted or downvoted by other users (if a post got -5 votes, it was permanently deleted). Good times. 

Ombré Hair

Ombré hair was another big fashion trend from the 2010s. Why choose to have your hair one color, when you can have it fade from brown to blonde, or blonde to blonder? I'll admit, I don't hate this one. 

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