When researching for a previous post regarding Goths, body image and weight, I found that the information available is always trying to push Goths to one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. There seems to be no middle ground. According to the articles I ploughed through online (gotta love the internet), Goths are either all obese or predominantly suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. I am not entirely sure how we are managing both at once. And out of all the Goths who I have spoken to online, via forums or my old site (and nowadays this blog); and all the Goths I have met at events in the real world, I have to say that the majority are neither overweight nor suffering disordered eating.
An awful lot of this information has been posted in typical journalistic fashion - to shock or to create scaremongering ("Hey, not only do you have to worry about your kid dressing weird, they're probably self-harming, anorexic and on drugs as well!") - or simply to mock and offend (most of the blog posts and articles about overweight Goths fall into this category). OK, so the internet is full of idiots posting crap intended to offend other idiots - it's the scaremongering that worries me; mainly because it seems to work. People I meet in the street assume, because of the way I dress, that I am a drug addict. Leaving the fact that I'm actually very much anti-drugs aside, since when is there a uniform for drug users? If all Goths are hooked on illegal drugs, why not just lock the lot of us up, since through our dress sense we're helpfully making ourselves easy for the police to spot?
If you visit a Goth club or festival, you won't be stepping into a drug den or a room full of people cutting their wrists. You'll see people of various sexes, races, ages, shapes and sizes dancing, socialising, drinking, gossiping and having a good time.
Whatever happened to normality? As I stated in my previous post about the possible connections between Goth culture and self-harm, the Goth community can be viewed as a cross section of society, involving thousands of people from dozens of countries, dozens of religions and faiths, races, ages, abilities, social 'classes', political persuasion, and anything else you can think of. So yes, amongst these thousands of people, there are those who are eating disordered, there are those who take drugs, and those who have depression - JUST AS THERE ARE IN THE REST OF SOCIETY.
Here's a newsflash for you - Goths are normal. If you look at a group of 'normal people', and a group of Goths, it's equally likely that people from either group may be depressed or take drugs - but it's the Goths that people are more likely assume such things about. Yes, Goths have a different worldview which attracts them to different things - this does not make them any less normal, any more or less likely to have faults, flaws, illnesses or addictions than the rest of society.
Conversely, there are also many articles online which talk about the intelligence, kindness, politeness, friendliness and other good qualities which Goths are described as having. Whilst these are certainly nicer to read and serve to balance the playing field a little, I feel it's necessary to stress that, again, Goths are no more or less likely to have these qualities than any other member of society. Think about it - does being a Goth automatically make one person smarter, politer or friendlier than another? I see no reason why it should.
Goths are just people; no better or worse than others. Let's stop the scare-mongering - wearing black and enjoying the music of UK Decay does not mean that you, your friend, your child, parent, spouse or colleague is depressed or on drugs. If they are, I would put my hands up and swear until I'm blue in the face that they would have suffered such a problem whether they had become involved with the Goth scene or not. Equally, being Goth does not automatically make a person 'nicer' or 'smarter' than they would have been were they not a Goth.
There's no need to assume anything about someone who is different from you - and please note that 'different' does not mean 'not normal'. It just means simply that - different.
Spooky tip: Those of you who dream of extraordinarily long hair should think about investing in a Tangle Teezer brush. All right, they're primarily aimed at young girls and as such come in obnoxiously bright colours and are flower-shaped, but they do wonders for removing knots and tangles from your hair without the damage of an ordinary brush or comb. And of course, preventing damage to your hair is important to avoid breakage and help strong, healthy growth.