This morning, I got dressed in a simple pair of dark-coloured jeans and a plain black polo-neck jumper. I only wore blush and mascara, which for me felt like being half-naked. The reason I was toning down my usually-extravagant daywear was because... I was going to the doctor's. Unfortunately, my ruse didn't work. I was hoping to avoid the lecture I tend to receive from my GP regarding my appearance - particularly my piercings.
The first time I received this lecture, I was looking for a job, and the Doc advised me, reasonably gently, that I might not get far with my collection of face furniture. Which was well-intentioned and honest advice, and in some cases might well be true - Waitrose, for example, will not hire people with facial piercings. But, having spent rather a lot of money and gone through a moderate amount of pain, I was not willing to remove so much as a single stud.
I also have a volunteering job working in retail, so I spend an awful lot of time face-to-face with the general public. Again, not one negative comment - although an elderly lady did ask if my piercings hurt.
However, every time I have gone back to the doctor's since this first lecture, I have received the same again. The first time - and the second - I could take it as it's meant; sensible advice, whether or not I choose to take it. (I still do not choose to take it. There is not a single aspect of my appearance or lifestyle that affects my ability to do a job, work hard, and be good at it. I will tone down as much as I need to if I really want a particular job, but I am not giving up the modifications I love and that I spent good money on. If an employer can't come to terms with this, well, there are other jobs.) By now, this lecture is beginning to feel like haranguing, hence my attempts to avoid it.
Today I found myself becoming frustrated, and remarked, "Well, I can take out the piercings, but the tattoo could be a problem." The Doc was not amused, and responded with, "You have to learn to fit in with the world."
As much as I hate to argue with the good advice of my doctor... no, you don't. You have to learn when it's OK to be extravagant and when you have to exercise moderation. You need to wear correct attire for funerals, weddings, religious services and job interviews. You have to learn how different types of people will respond to you based on your appearance and decide when to adjust your look accordingly.
But it IS possible to get and keep a decent job if you are obviously and visibly Goth or alternative. You can find a relationship; get married; have children; get promoted; buy a house... these things and more are not denied to you if you decide to have body modifications, dye your hair a colour not found in nature or dress in an eccentric and flamboyant manner.
Obviously you need to use a modicum of common sense - you can't turn up to interviews half-naked, for example - but there is no reason why someone who looks visibly different should be denied the same opportunities as anybody else. You don't need to give up Goth once you leave college and have to find work, reach a certain age, or realise you are ready for a serious relationship.
Yes, in some professions, visible body mods and such will hold you back - the military and the police force being obvious examples - but that still doesn't mean that once you hold such a job you have to 'grow up and stop being a Goth'. Is this job important enough to you to be worth taking out your piercings and growing out your undershave? If it is, you might need to remove your eyebrow bars and dye your hair black instead of lime green, but you don't have to 'fit in' and give up the subculture that you love. You just need to learn the art of compromise.
I am not being defiant or rebellious by choosing to keep my appearance this way - I love my mods and my unusual fashion choices, I do not have them to piss people off but because I LIKE them. Furthermore, I have met people online and know people personally who have far more tattoo coverage, more piercings, and more extravagant daywear than me, and they still manage to hold down good jobs which they enjoy. I am setting my standards at that level because I can see no reason why I should not be able to do the same.
Don't change to suit 'the world' - do what you have to do to get where you want to be, but other than that let the damn world take you as you are.
Listening to: East - The Cruxshadows