I was recently contacted by a girl who's currently going through a difficult time with her parents... her mum is very much against Goths, believing that they are trouble-makers, but Girl Z (we'll call her that) has been interested in the subculture for years now and really wants to be able to identify as part of it.
I advised Miss Z to sit down and talk to her mum about Goth (in the finest Gothic Charm School tradition), and as I was thinking about it I realised that in some cases this might be easier said than done. Trying to convince your parents that they are 'wrong' and you are 'right' is a situation fraught with difficulty at the best of times, particularly when you are young and still living at home by your parents' rules.
Additionally, some parents are made extremely uncomfortable by the mention of 'Goth', judging by comments I have received on this blog and on the old site, which makes it hard for them to sit down and hear you out. Even if they are willing to talk to you about it, how can you be sure that they will take on board what you are saying?
But at the end of the day, everybody, no matter how young, is their own person and has the right to express themself as such, which is why it is worth at least attempting to start a dialogue with your parents about why you like Goth; why it's important to you; and why they shouldn't be worried or angry that you want to begin identifying yourself as a member of the subculture.
Source: Deathwaves on Tumblr
If one of your parents is more concerned about Goth, is it possible for you to speak with the other parent and get them on-side? Can you talk to them calmly about why you feel such concerns are unfounded, and explain that you would like them to help you reach a compromise?
Compromise, whilst I'm on the topic, is very important in such a discussion and may well be the only way that you can become more involved with Goth whilst keeping your parents happy. Some compromises that you could suggest may include:
- "If I keep the clothing demure, modest and unprovocative, can I dress in Goth clothes?" That means no PVC corsets, no tiny skirts, no T-shirts with rude slogans etc.; but still leaves you a vast array of choices.
- "If I keep my natural hair colour and don't get anything pierced or tattooed until I leave home, can I dress in Goth clothes?" Hair dye and body mods are often a parent's worst nightmare, and one of the main problems many have with the Goth aesthetic.
- "If I get good grades for the rest of year and do all my chores, can I dress in Goth clothes?" This will show your parents that being Goth does not mean being rebellious and irresponsible.
Can you take a leaf out of Kent's (of The Amazing Race) book and play them a CD of Goth music they might enjoy? Bouncy, upbeat music from bands such as The Cruxshadows, Clan of Xymox and Depeche Mode, or beautiful, almost spiritual sounds from the likes of Qntal and Dead Can Dance might help dispel any lingering worries about Marilyn Manson and his ilk.
If your parents have previously only been exposed to mallgoths and negative comments in the media, they may also have limited knowledge of Goth fashion, and expect you to be slouching about in baggy hoodies and bondage pants. You could always show them pictures of modestly-dressed Goths in attractive, parent-friendly clothing (an online search will turn up plently of suitable images) to try and reassure them that you aren't going to end up looking like a horror-movie extra.
Your attitude will also go a long way towards influencing your parents' views on Goth. They may think you are going to become miserable, surly and anti-social, or even begin dabbling in drugs. If you can explain to them that this is not the case, and back it up with your attitude and actions, it will help them feel less like they are losing their precious child to a dark, melancholy persona.
However, I do advise that you bear in mind the worst-case scenario - they may not listen. But fear not, darklings, there are stealth tactics that can be employed to ensure you don't have to wait until you leave home to begin dressing in darkly decadent fashions, which I shall discuss further at a later date. In the meantime, try and remember that your parents are only concerned for your well-being and trying to keep you safe, and good luck with your family discussions.
If anyone has any further advice that they can offer to the young lady I referred to at the start of this post, please leave a comment below - she is a reader of this blog and I think it would be really great if we could help her out. =)
Goth gossip: Thursday's Daily Mail had a great comment about the lace-and-fishnet getup that ageing pop star Madonna was recently pictured wearing: "Madonna wore lace to the Oscars — taking a fabric that should be elegant, and wearing it in a style reminiscent of a goth." Because, obviously, there's nothing elegant about Goth... d'oh...