Saturday, 8 January 2011

Scared to 'go Goth'

Source: YouTube
A few new readers have been coming to my site from this link.

Well, hello. =) I hope that the person asking the question does not mind me hijacking the topic - especially on my own blog rather than Yahoo Answers: how rude am I?! (Sorry.) - but I thought that I would like to answer this question in my own way, and since I do tend to ramble on I figured I might as well write a whole damn post on the subject.

For many people, no matter how appreciative they are of dark music and art; how pretty they may find leather and lace; how many vampire romances they have piled on their bedside table - in short, how much they are interested in the Goth subculture and how strongly they feel it is something they would like to become involved with, actually choosing to do what people half-jokingly call 'going Goth' is a big and rather intimidating step.

One of my favourite bloggers, Juliet's Lace, actually recently wrote a post about 'coming out of the Goth wardrobe' - i.e., admitting to friends and family that really, you would quite like to be one of those ooky-spooky people dressed all in black. Which for me proves that, if you're a bit worried about joining The Big Spooky Family (which doesn't sound AT ALL sinister or cult-like, does it? D'oh...) you're not alone.

So why's it scary?
From the moment we start school, we learn that in order to be accepted by our peers we have to conform to certain norms which are dictated by the society in which we live. But not everyone finds it easy to fit in with 'how we should be' - it's that Goth worldview at work again.

Unless you grew up with the Addams Family, you have probably been taught for most of your life that dressing in a funereal manner, collecting plastic skulls, disliking the majority of music about boobies and guns, and having a strong interest in a subject such as folklore, mythology or the paranormal, is not 'normal'. And we have all seen or experienced the way society treats those who are not 'normal' in any way, be it a disability, a faith - hell, even a hair colour. They get laughed at; bullied; discriminated against or simply marginalised and ignored. When it comes right down to it, nobody wants to be treated that way.

People may be afraid that, if they choose to visually identify themselves as 'Goth', not only will they be setting themselves up as a potential target but they may lose friends; suffer familial disapproval; even be regarded differently by colleagues, teachers, employers and even possible love interests.

It's a lot easier to just do one's best to fit in.

If going Goth is such a scary thing to do, why do it?
Because there is no shame in liking what you like (within reason, of course!). Because if flip-flops, baseball and blonde highlights are not 'you', there is nothing at all wrong with that. Because for some people, spending their entire lives attempting to force themselves to fit a mould (square peg; round hole) is just Not Going To Work.

Because you would really, really like to - and there's nothing wrong with that, either.

Are my family going to freak out?
Possibly, depending on how open-minded they are and how much they know about Goth culture. But go easy on them - they may not understand what this change in attire and attitude is all about. Make sure to talk to them about what appeals to you about Goth and why you have chosen to dress this way - show them that you are still the same person you always were, no matter how you are currently expressing yourself.

Will I lose friends?
Unfortunately, this is also a possibility. Some so-called 'friends' will only give you the time of day if you are being the 'you' they are OK with you being. Did that make sense?

You know what? In the long run you are better without this kind of friend, whether you choose to 'go Goth' or not. It may not be your subcultural affiliation, but at some stage something will cause these insecure idiots to show their true colours. They may not be able to stand you having a serious boyfriend, for example. If your new haircut makes you look better than them, they will become jealous and act cruel.

Real friends accept you AS YOU ARE. That is what makes a friendship - accepting another person, both the good and the bad, and loving them anyway.

What are people going to think of me?
I'm not going to lie to you; some people are going to think you're weird, scary, depressed, or one-hundred-and-one other stereotypes often applied to members of the Goth sbculture. But that isn't the whole story.

People who are slightly more knowledgeable about alternative culture, or more willing to take an individual at face value, often make positive assumptions about someone dressed on their Goth attire. For example, you may be thought of as 'deep', 'artsy', 'intelligent', 'a free spirit' or 'creative'.

And not everyone makes snap judgements about others. You will find that there are still plenty of people who are more interested in talking to you and getting to know you than slapping a label on you. And you know what they say about bullies being jealous? Yep, some may just be envious that you've got the balls to dress as you please, and wish that they were as comfortable with being themselves.

Many will notice your attitude more than your outfits - e.g., if you are a naturally cheerful person, or you look and feel confident, that is what they will see, not just the colour of your clothes. When I began volunteering I was worried about what sort of reaction I would get, due to my predominantly black clothing and various piercings. Sure, I get the occasional curious question, but during my ten months working behind a till I have not received one single negative reaction. 

Can I make it any easier?
Yes - talking to your friends and family about their reservations will help dispel tensions on both sides.

Take it slowly - there's no need to go from Average Joe to King of the Night in a single weekend. Ease into it - this will also help you get used to the reactions you may receive from other people.

Also, be aware that for certain situations, you will need to be aware that some people are not particularly open-minded; so when it is important for you to make a good first impression you may need to tone it down a little. No, there is nothing to be ashamed of about being a Goth, but there is no point losing out on an opportunity because you insisted on expressing yourself with a lime-green mohawk and safety-pin through your septum during a job interview.

What happens next?
Don't worry, you'll grow out of it.

No, no, I'm not trying to tell you that your interest in Goth is 'just a phase' - what seems to happen is that, as you become accustomed to being involved with Goth, you also become accustomed to the attention, both negative and positive, that comes with the territory. Sooner or later, you will almost cease to notice when people are staring at your attire slack-jawed. Eventually, it stops bothering you.

At first, if people are pointing at you or catcalling, you will understandably feel hugely uncomfortable and maybe even afraid. It may take years (it did for me!) but you will become comfortable enough in your own skin (comfortable with yourself 'as a Goth', if you will) that this kind of attention will more often than not bounce right off you, because you are happy being who you are and no one else's boo-hooing will be able to affect that.

Your (real) friends and family will learn to accept you as you are, however you are, because deep down they love you and want to see you happy, whatever form that happiness may take. Any initial disapproval or concern is shown simply because they care about you (I know I say it all the time, but it's true). You have to be patient and let them see that you are only expressing yourself in a way that makes you happy.

At the end of the day, if you are happy, confident, comfortable, and having fun - does it matter one iota what the guy walking past you on the street thinks? I don't think so.

Best of luck!


Angel of Darkness said...

I just pasted that stage of being a buit scared of what others will think, and I love everything you said! It still does help a lot to read it. And in the proses of being myself, I have met great friends who stand by me!

Julietslace said...

I was surprised to find one of my managers was alternative when I asked about piercings, you never know who's still in the wardrobe ;)

Mo said...

You have no idea just how much this is helping me with the whole "going Goth" thing.

Billy said...

Thanks for writing this it's helpful. I guess I grew up in the Addams Family since my parents think most of those things are normal, don't mind it, or are into some of it :)

Anonymous said...

Today, I was asking my best friend about this Goth guy she met before. My other friend asked why I am so interested to know. All I said is that I'm studying. And then she asked if I am a Gothic. And I just answered again that I'm studying them. She said I shouldn't get too into it. (She knows for a fact that I love all things creepy such as vampires and stuff.) She thinks Goth is depressing but I told her it is not depressing. But she said it is because of the black. I told her not all of them wear black. I tried to explain that Glitter and Perky Goths view it as fun. And I said they see the beauty in darkness. But she couldn't care less. She said it's like seeing the good in the bad. I told my parents what happened after I arrived home from school. Mum said you can't please everyone. But it gets so frustaiting to get someone to understand.
It makes me worried to open up to what I am interested in because she doesn't like some things I do but she does love me for who I am. She thinks I might get depressed for being involved in it. But I have been for almost three years now. And I loved the supernatural since I was a kid and anything creepy.)

Crow said...

I've been reading your blog all night, and I'm impressed... But wearing all that makeup and clothings here in my country could even ended up having cops called on you just because you stand out too much... How I admire other places, no one knows anything about goths here... Half of them will tell you that goths are people who just want the world to themselves and will kill anyone or anything in their way like a satanist because they all are satanist... The other half is about that "unacceptable" sense of fashion and black... Just depressed that no one sees the way like we do in this place...

Dark Soul said...

I am still in the scared stage plus my parents know and are taking the mik out of me and as a result the only other person I have told is my best friend and fellow goth. I would love to be able to were my favorite clothes to school but its "aginst the rules" with baiscly means that the headteacher is scared to let anyone look different. This website has realy helped though and I am going to tell my other freinds after the hoildays (help).

Anonymous said...

I am just getting in to the gothic subculture but I love it sometimes I feel so sure of myself and other times I feel insecure and worry about what people will say I want to be different but at the same time it just seems easier to stick to the status quo but I'm finding my way trying to meet other goths and make friends but your blog has really helped me

Anonymous said...

Anyone thinking about 'going goth' shouldn't be afraid of losing friends, because the "friends" that would desert you are worthless anyway. I was bullied a great deal before i 'took the black', and that experience led me to have a group of friends that were accepting of me, 100% as i was. nothing changed in our friendship when i started wearing darker versions of popular clothing, and when i started wearing what one friend calls my 'sexy pants' (dark, baggy, chains, spikes, that deal) nothing really changed. So, basically, don't worry about losing friends, real friends don't care about what you,re wearing, as cliche as that may be.

CallaWolf said...

As a person who is easing into this culture, I can say that found this to be rather helpful and true.

Luckily, my family has accepted me going into the darkness. I dress in a lot of black and love the dark things, things with skulls on them, and darker music.

Although, they may not acknowledge me as a goth, they acknowledge that I'm into the dark stuff and realize it's just "me being me"

Same with friends. I brought it to a friend not long ago, asking "what would you think if I said I was into the goth scene?" at first, my friend gave a "what? what are you talking about?" type of response, then warmed up to the idea as he realized that I was no different than I was before even if I was "Going Goth" because I was always into the dark things, even when we we in our early teens.

I've read a lot of your posts so far, and I've enjoyed them all. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

I'm from India where a very few people have heard of goth subculture.. I've been a part since a long time but then decided to stay undercover.. you blog helped me to make the final decision and I'm happy with that.. just wanted you to know that I've mentioned this post in my blog

keep writing :) love & light

MaximumRide said...

I am just starting in a new high school as a freshman and I have wanted to be Goth for a while but Im really insecure about wearing like my black ruffled skirt and combat boots because of what people will think of me. Anyone have any advice for me??

Amy Asphodel said...

MaximumRide - I literally just found this post on one of my favourite blogs and thought it might help you out:

In the meantime I will start scribbling a post on this topic for you as it's a worry a lot of people seem to have. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ironically, the thing that taught me the most about being comfortable in goth was getting into other, even weirder alternative fashions, that made goth seem comfortable in comparison. From about 13 onwards my outfits were usually gothically inclined. I used to sometimes feel a little insecure about wearing it out, but to be honest 99% of the time no-one except family and friends or classmates (in other words, people who spent a lot of time around me) even commented on the fact I was wearing a lot of black, etc. People in the street rarely said anything. I can literally count the amount of catcalls I got during this 4 or 5-year period on one hand - goth is so common a subculture that most people just don't notice! They see it as a teenage phase, and think it's silly, but they're used to seeing goths around so they're not going to come up to you and ask what you're wearing.

Then when I was 17 I discovered lolita fashion, and I got a taste of what attention-grabbing fashion *really* is. Literally every time I went out people would stare or try to take photos or come up and ask me questions. What was interesting about this was that when I wore gothic lolita (or anything all in black), I got way less attention, as people thought I was a romantic goth, so I fitted a mould they'd seen before. Some people would compliment my outfit or stare, but no-one came up to me asking questions or tried to take photos. But when I wore classic lolita, I got so much more attention and way more people looked at me weirdly or thought that I must be in a play rather than just wearing this as a fashion choice. This was in a major metropolitan area of Britain known for it's goth scene though, so it probably wouldn't be the same out in the sticks, but I have worn ordinary goth in the small town I grew up in and only a handful of chavs ever said anything to me.

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