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Shamate (杀马特) is an edgy aesthetic that comes from China. Very similar to Emo and Scene subcultures or Japan's Visual Kei, Shamate involves spiking one's hair and dying it unnatural colors, dark makeup focusing on the eyes and lips, and shocking/statement-making accessories such as religious symbols, dog collars, or anything representing death and darkness.


Shamate comes from the English translation of "smart" and initially took off with migrant factory workers in Southern China in the late 2000s-early 2010s. Its creator, Luo Fuxing, stated in an segment with Vice Asia that it was done largely for entertainment because of how boring and lifeless factory life could be, where the only outlets for entertainment were the internet, video games, hanging out in the park, and styling one's hair. Being one of the first internet users in his village of Dongguan, he was heavily inspired by the Visual Kei aesthetic (but admits he knew nothing about the music associated with it) and started by initially mimicking what he saw with the Visual Kei style. [1] It really started to take off from 2009 to 2013 and at its peak, there were about 20,000 shamate, but the community has shrunk since then, but the ones who are still involved in the shamate community have become incredibly strict adherents to it. In recent years, however, the shamate community has seen something of a resurgence, especially on platforms like TikTok.


Shamate followers tend to wear dark makeup, such as eyeliner. Their hair is spiked and tends to be dyed, typically red, yellow, or blue, although other colors are incredibly popular within shamate. [2] It was also incredibly popular to use temporary spray dye for their hairstyles initially due to the fact that if your hair was too outrageous in terms of color and style, many Chinese factories simply would not hire you.


Much like the iconic shamate hair, shamate fashion is designed to be eye-catching and help them stand out, which had made them generally hated by Chinese society as a whole (not helped by the fact that many shamate tended to be lower-class workers, and the irony of the fact that shamate help to keep the Chinese economy going isn't lost on the shamate devotees). As the backlash against the shamate from mainstream society increased, the shamate went even further underground, but it still pops up in other places in China from time to time. Despite the mainstream backlash against shamate, shamate devotees don't necessarily have the same level of disdain for mainstream culture as a whole. Clothing-wise, a lot of shamate will rock anything ranging from fake luxury clothing brands to fashion influenced by Korean fashion to Western-style Punk, Scene, and Emo fashion.


Musically, the Shamate community tend to listen to a lot of Shout Mai, K-Pop, electronic music, and Visual Kei music, despite their appearance leading many Westerners to think they might listen to Rock or Metal music.

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