Sunday, 17 April 2011

Personality vs. vanity

Annoyingly enough, the post I made yesterday asking certain people to stop using my posts without permission... has been reposted without permission. I am still unable to contact the website owners. If any of you charming readers would care to contact on my behalf and let them know that I do not like them using my writing and photos without having asked permission, I would be very grateful. To the owners of - hey, nice site, great idea, please ask before using any more of my stuff, credit me on each post you have used and remove my personal photos from your site.

Now, today's post is a reader request from Laurel, formerly of The Butterfly In The Belljar. Laurel said, "Odd question, but I once read the assertion that girls who would look very plain in traditional fashion tend to look stunning as goths because it is all in the "packaging". I would like to hear an opinion on that quote! Also do you think that could apply beyond the goth spectrum. Would I be plain if I ditched vintage? What about the personality beyond the clothes? I dug this up a while ago and that sort of contributed to my ponderings on it - probably most striking is Kiki Kannibal - I would not have given her a second look in her before picture. Yet she is definitely eyecatching in the second (even if you are not a scene fan, I don't think you would deny she gets positive attention that way). I wonder if there are many goths who would be willing to share their before/after photos - especially those that came later to the scene. Not just the mallgoth photos either.

Another aspect of it could be self-confidence. We hold ourselves differently, we have pride in how we look and all those make a big difference how the others see us. I occassionally wonder how people like Amelia Arsenic would look in what's hot now. Without their own take on it, exactly as it pops up out of your standard teen magazine."

This is probably going to take me a little while to answer; I'm going to take it step by step and question by question, so please be patient! Let's begin with the painful proof - my own personal before/after photos.

Will I ever live this down? No, probably not.
As you can see, underneath the make-up I am (let's be honest here) pretty normal-looking, and a few steps short of ever being a Miss World contender. There is no denying that, for me, as well as many other girls and guys, Goth IS a flattering look. Corsets create an hourglass figure on even the squarest of shapes; dark and dramatic make-up can be used to draw attention to the best features. It's hard to call a girl 'plain' when she's wearing six-inch heels, a velvet skirt, fishnet stockings and a ripped T-shirt.

So yes, I agree that in some cases, a girl who would be very ordinary in jeans and a tee - myself included - can reinvent themselves via alternative fashion and beauty.

Although I didn't become Goth because I thought it would make me beautiful. I did it because I wanted to, because I liked it. The fact that actually, black velvet is highly flattering on my rear end, is simply a bonus. ;-) Do I get more attention as a Goth girl? Well, yes and no. I certainly get stared at a lot more. But blonde hair and miniskirts were more conducive to positive attention from the opposite sex. Goth, on the other hand, can be a little intimidating. Let's just say I don't get beeped at by passing truck drivers quite as much nowadays!

As to 'would I be plain if I ditched vintage?', I think that depends. A beautiful girl is beautiful whether she's wearing clothes by an indie designer out of the pages of Gothic Beauty, or MC Hammer harem pants. If you didn't wear vintage (or other alternative clothing) would you still wear clothing that is flattering to your shape; well-tailored and of good quality? Whether naturally pretty or not, are you well-groomed?

A quote that has stuck with me is 'there's no such thing as a plain girl, only one who can't be bothered'. I fully believe that confidence, clothes that look good on you, good grooming (and if you're lucky, natural beauty) will make a person look stunning no matter what kind of clothes they are wearing. I don't think you would be considered 'plain' just for dressing in 'ordinary' clothing - that's like saying 'only weird chicks are hot'!

The thing about many kinds of alternative fashion is the effort that one has to put into grooming - Goths often (but not always) experiment with elaborate make-up and hairstyles, as well as unusual clothing. Those who like vintage clothing often wear items as seamed stockings and red lipstick - hardly the staples of a 'plain' wardrobe. The confidence helps, too - I know I feel much prettier and more outgoing when I'm fully Gothed-up. Catch me without make-up on, or at the gym, and I'm painfully shy. It's very difficult to dress in an alternative manner and still be 'plain', whereas if you're slouching about, don't pay much attention to cleanliness or hygiene, and are wearing an ill-fitting football kit, then chances are you look plain (or worse).

As for Amelia Arsenic (or, following this train of thought, Adora BatBrat, Razor Candi and their ilk) in current fashion trends, it's hard to envisage. Underneath the beautiful make-up and painstaking hairstyles, these women could be very ordinary-looking and we might not look twice at them in an off-the-rack outfit from Primark. On the other hand, they might still be very beautiful, or able to turn heads simply because they are strong, successful, confident women. Would Amelia still feel confident and comfortable in leggings, ballet flats and a fake tan? If yes, it's hard to imagine she'd be any less gorgeous. If her attitude comes from the care she has taken to create her alternative appearance, then maybe she'd be just another face in the crowd.

Which I guess is where the personality behind the clothing comes in. Those of you who have read The Twits by Roald Dahl will know that happy thoughts show on the face and make you beautiful; someone who is unkind, mean and miserable is more likely to look it. A woman may not be a ravishing beauty, but if she is cheerful, open, and vibrant, the 'vibes' she gives off (I hate that expression but I can't think of another way to put it) will draw attention simply because her positive energy is good to be around.


Laurel said...

I didn't expect to be quoted :) I really liked how you handled my questions (although I must admit the one about ditching vintage smacks of insecurity, I had ment it as a general statement rather than a personal one!) one by one.

I'm actually pretty lucky- I tend to get away with a lot of no-fuss solutions. Hats for example are a lifesaver when one doesn't have the time/energy for my hair.

'There's no such thing as a plain girl, only one who can't be bothered'. I havn't heard that one, but I have heard "Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself". We definitely have a certain amount o self-determination in that regard and clothes/being plain is only one aspect of that.

Good luck with Gothicholiday- that must be really frustrating for you. Hopefully they will get the message soon. I've always been really paranoid about posting photos online because they could be claimed by someone else, so really you are dealing with my nightmare.

Thank-you for giving me your take on the items I presented :) Another really enjoyable post!

Ophelia Black said...

I liked The Twits reference in the end, I haven't read that in years. I love your blog and read it every day, keep up the good work.

Ashlee said...

I'm having a hard time phrasing what I'm thinking, so I'll use an example.

When Dita Von Teese was still a blonde, she was really pretty. She didn't become *stunning* though,until she dyed to hair black, put the makeup on, and started tight lacing.

I think part of the reason alternative girls look so pretty is because they stand out. They don't look like everyone else.

I don't know if my point came across, but oh well.

Jacqueline said...

I feel like alternative girls look so much prettier because, if you have a bunch of beautiful, simple diamond rings on display, and then one ruby in the middle that's been unusually polished, embellished with other stones, etc., everyone's going to notice the ruby. Most normal pretty girls aren't really concerned with clothes or fashion. They just wear whatever was on sale, what they got for their birthday, whatever they saw in the latest catalogue. That's nice, and of course they still look good, but it's the people who take a great interest in alternative fashion/lifestyle who take time discerning the exact clothes they want to wear, the exact makeup techniques, hairstyles, etc. Most average girls that go to my highschool are taken aback when I say that I searched for weeks to find a dress in Japan that I bought used for 300 dollars. However, the girls I know into alternative fashion don't bat an eyelid. Because most of them understand what it's like to be particular about their appearance.
However, I think I've gotten off on a tangent lol

Rora Monroe said...

First off I have to say that the difference with thouse pictures is down right stunning. You went from a cute little blond girl to a sex godess of darkness (haha ignore my weirdness)
I also agree with you that when they are all dressed up most girls personalitys shine. I had a friend who use to be a shy timid girl desprate for attention, after I lead her into the world of goth she changed. She would talk to every male on the planet if she had the chance (haha she changed so much infact that I feared I had created a monster)

Anonymous said...

This was a great, thought provoking post Amy.
I definetely agree about being shy when you're not "gothed up"...and when you're getting stared at, you suddenly care how you look, suddenly worry about your posture,your energy, because when you're a goth, everyday you're on display.

Anonymous said...


I checked out It's a Wodpress blog, and requies a Wordpress account to comment. Dammit, if I could only remember my Wordpress user ID and password. Does anyone else have one? In the meantime, I will continue trying to login. I've seen this kind of thing happen before, and it's really annoying.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now this is getting really rustrating. They're using a whitelist to only allow certain people access to the blog. If you're not on it, you can't comment--very sneaky. There must be away to stop this jerk. --if it's even a person. It's possible that the content stealing is computer generated--though from my understnading, splogs don't steal content; rather, they put up a lot of meaningless stuff. I will keep looking to see what else I can learn.

The Green Fairy said...

Gah I hate the way I look when not gothed up. It could be a confidence thing, but I mainly think it's because I hate my skin without pale foundation on it :P

ultimategothguide said...

@ Goth with a Guide Dog - on the plus side, the link at the bottom of their page has generated quite a few hits for me. I would just appreciate being asked. Thanks for looking into this for me.

@ Rora Monroe - sex goddess? Haha I don't get accused of that very often! Loving it...

@ Boots - thank you ^^ my pet peeve is when people make snarky comments about you in a stage whisper that you're meant to overhear... I really hate that. I'm sure it makes a huge different to how I carry myself and how I present myself for at least the next few hours because it always knocks me back a little.

@ Jacqueline - I love your analogy =) I didn't think of the fact that we alternative chickadees often spend so much more time and money 'creating ourselves' - that's an excellent point and I agree completely!

@ Ashlee - I think I understand what you mean. I also agree that she looks more beautiful with dark hair and make-up.

@ Ophelia Black - thanks so much! ^^

@ Laurel - I didn't think insecure, I thought 'slightly indignant at the implication that women are only attractive because of what they wear'.

I really like that quote. =)

Gah! The simple courtesy of asking my permission before slapping my pics everywhere was all I wanted :-/

Thanks very much. =D

@ The Green Fairy - I know what you mean. I doubt I will ever post a photo of me sans make-up!

Ashlee said...

Jacqueline put into much better words what I meant. The ruby will stand out among the diamonds.

VictorianKitty said...

You can get WhoIs information showing the owner of any domain name. I looked up and they used a third party called to purchase their domain name. You might be able to explain the situation to them and see if they will ask their client to stop. DomainsByProxy's phone number is 480 624-2599, according to WhoIs.

Mason Chase: said...

Good article. From my (male) perspective, a girl becomes especially attractive (both sexually, and personally) in transcending the boundaries of expectation in her own beautification. My emotional reaction is usually something like, 'wow, she should be considered differently, is more creative, cunning, considered, vital etc.' I think this is /part/ of the reason 'plain' girls who then dress in gothic attire (and can pull it off) will impel such a strong emotional draw. Furthermore, sudden and dramatic changes in appearance are some of the rare things that can jolt an acquaintance into reassessing some of the first impressions they had formed of she who is now visually so different.

Aside from the sociological considerations though, the new presentation will of course inevitably emphasise different aspects of her body, drawing more attention to these aspects than had been warranted before. This is, to me at least, particularly ravishing when it's the kind of emphasis caused by corset wearing :)

The Tenth Muse said...

I agree with what you're saying... but I'd like to add that you look quite pretty in the "before" pic as well :)
I also love that you were comfortable with sharing that picture-- you're not pretentious at all!

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