Sunday, 14 November 2010

Can non-conformity be a necessity?

Source: Tumblr
Yes, I do believe that Goths are non-conformists. I know people think that there's this whole South Park-esque 'to be a non-conformist you have to dress exactly like us and listen to the same music we do' thing behind Goth, but I think that anyone who's in the scene knows that it isn't like that. There are so many different facets to the Goth scene - different fashions, music subgenres - that we're all very different. I'd say the only thing we all really share is a love and appreciation for the darker side of life, and the beauty in it. To anyone looking closely, we don't all dress the same. We don't all listen to the same music. And our tastes aren't limited to Goth alone. For example, I also like metal music, rock music, and some more mainstream bands like Lady GaGa (well, there goes my Goth cred...).

What I want to talk about, specifically, is whether we are non-conformist through a deliberate act of choosing or through necessity. Is Goth something innate, that's hidden inside us from the start and/or develops throughout our life, or is it something we choose to become? Whilst I'd probably giggle at anyone who claimed to have been 'born Goth', I have noticed that some people seem to have Gothy tendencies from an early age, e.g. a love of Halloween, a fascination with dark music (when I was little I loved Enigma, Die Krupps, Alice Cooper and Depeche Mode), appreciation of dark art or literature (I've had several of the same fantasy posters on my bedroom walls since I was six or seven) or just a 'different' mindset.

When I say 'different mindset', I mean, well... did you ever feel you didn't quite fit in with your peer group? If you did attempt to fit in, by dressing the same and trying to act like them, was it a struggle for reasons you couldn't quite define? Did you get picked on or labelled 'weird' because no matter what you did or how you acted there was something about you that made you, well, different? I think a lot of us have been there.

I'm beginning to believe that, for a lot of people, the choice to start dressing Goth, to become involved in the Goth scene, is literally just the next step in discovering who they are. Becoming themselves, if you like. It feels totally natural. You look in the mirror with your Gothy band of choice blaring over your shoulder and you just think, "Ah... this is me." Like a pair of well-fitting Doc Martens, Goth is comfortable.

On the other hand, for some people non-conformity is a choice. They want to be separate from the herd. The attention - both negative and positive - gained by wearing Goth clothes and being part of the subculture feels good to them. They may find it easier to shrug off the insults because the negative comments are aimed at the image they project rather than who or what they are.

But is this type of person any 'more' or 'less Goth' than those for whom non-conformity is inavoidable. Surely the fact that they made an active choice not to conform makes them at least equally non-conformist?

Me personally? Probably a little of both. I had a hard time of it in secondary school, even during my attempts to dress 'normally' (for me, fashion had always been fun, creative and expressive rather than something that could be 'right' or 'wrong'. In primary school, my rainbow-striped trousers, gypsy tops, blue lipstick and leather dresses (yes, leather dresses at age ten. Shocker...) were largely unnoticed, but in secondary... boy, did I learn...) because I was 'a weirdo'. (Plus, show me a pile of colour co-ordinates and I am totally unable to put together an outfit. Give me a stack of crazy, ripped-up, black, pink and purple items and I'm your Gok Wan.)

Since childhood, my taste in music, art and clothes ran to the dark and the alternative. I loved writing stories and poetry. Goth felt - and still feels - perfectly natural to me. Almost every aspect of my lifestyle is dipped in black, and I can't imagine being any other way. Of course, I have interests outside of the subculture, but on the whole, Goth is who I am.

And I revel in it. I may not like the negative attention, but the drama queen in me enjoys the stares and compliments. I love dressing up, standing out. Goth may have taken over my life gradually, but if it hadn't, I'm sure I would have woken up one day and thought, "I want to be different. I want more than the mundane." After all, I do still believe in fairies.
Me, at DV8 Fest
What about you?


Anonymous said...

I love your hair!

Emily said...

I've always been different from everyone else. I tried to be like my friends in elementary school, but couldn't do it. I wore alot of black before I knew what Goth was, and when some people started to call me 'Goth', I decided to look it up, and I loved the style.

Anonymous said...

Your mom let you wear blue lipstick at ten?

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