Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sibling rivalry

This morning I logged in to Blogger to find a heartfelt query from a fellow Gothling: "My sister is two years older than me and she claims to have "started going goth" before me, which, I'll be honest, is almost true. She did start wearing darker colours before me and claimed to be goth even though she would just be wearing a black t-shirt and jeans (that was the case back-then). Of course, she evolved over the years and became more of a goth after a while. Later on, I was inspired by this and decided to go goth. But, she kept accusing me of "copying" her. However, that was not my intention. Even to this day (about two years after I started going goth) she still accuses me of copying her whenever she gets the opportunity, and let's just say she isn't too polite about it. I would almost dare say that she's been bullying me.
Below I listed a few things that she does:
Telling me that I'm not a goth.
Telling me what I should and shouldn't wear.
Constantly telling me how ugly I am and how I don't dress like a goth at all.
(I might've left out a few things -.-)
I've been trying to ignore it for a long time now, but I just can't take it anymore, and was hoping you could help me out and maybe give me some tips." (I have shortened this comment just a little; to read the rest of Dear Anonymous's plaintive complaint, check out the comments on this post.)

Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that your sister has taken such exception to your decision to follow her into the Goth subculture. Having someone be inspired by you is very flattering and I'm sure that she is pleased that you looked up to her in such a way. However if she is a teenager - I'm assuming you both are? - she is probably also trying to 'find' her identity (as we all do) and feels frustrated that you have also chosen to identify with something she felt was 'hers'. A lot of young Goths feel possessive about their new image because it is special to them and so she may be hostile towards you because 'she was there first'.

Whilst putting yourself in her shoes might help you understand why she is reacting in such a way, she is not the One True Goth and you have just as much right to be involved with the subculture as she does. It may be best for you to try your hardest to ignore her taunts - as you both get older, she is likely to eventually realise that inspiring her younger sister to take part in Goth culture is actually a good thing, and will leave you alone. Goth is big enough for everyone, after all!

As your styles change and develop, you may both find that different things interest you (for example, she may decide she likes cybergoth and you may prefer deathrock), in which case it will be harder for her to accuse you of copying. It may also help if you try not to make her feel as though you are treading on her toes - e.g. if you know she wants to dye her hair blue, don't do the same. Let her have her own look and image; focus on enjoying your own unique Goth style.

In the meantime, treat her unkind comments and remarks about your Gothness in the same way you would if they were made by someone you didn't know - either ignore them or react politely (a la Gothic Charm School). If she says "You're not a real Goth," respond with something like, "I'm happy the way I am." Eventually she will realise that she can't deter you from being a Goth and if you refuse to be drawn into an argument she should stop making spiteful remarks and leave you to your own devices.

When she tells you what you should and shouldn't wear, is she being unkind or simply trying to offer advice that she feels might be helpful? If the former, respond as above - e.g., "Thanks for the suggestion but I like what I'm wearing," and wait for her to get bored of being bossy. If the latter, consider the advice as if it was being offered by another Goth (e.g. not your sister) and decide whether or not you agree. Then you can respond - again, calmly and politely - with either, "Thanks for the suggestion... etc," or "That was helpful, thanks."

Comments such as 'you're ugly', etc, though, are typical sibling nastiness, from what I understand, and if she persists on making these kind of comments perhaps you could speak to your parents about it.

Readers with siblings, is there any further advice you can offer to Anonymous?


Julietslace said...

My cousin used to copy her sister and one day she decided it was my turn, I hated it and she knew it! But after I started being nice and offering advise she backed off. Now she has her own identity and couldn't be less interested.

Taking the fun out of copying made her stop, maybe reacting nicely will take the fun out of her being bossy? Remind her this is a subculture that anyone can join, it's not a contest.

Anonymous said...

i used to hate my sister liking the same music as me - i guess i was trying to protect my identity and i didn't want anyone taking it...but i feel bad now for being mean and i often felt bad at the time too. maybe just try and be sweet about it, show her things like Adora BatBrat and her sister, or gothic lolitas that twin - maybe it can bring you together, not drive you apart ♥ and to my sister - i was a huge idiot and i love and miss you very much ♥

LovleAnjel said...

The best advice is to smile, say "Thank you" or "I'll keep that in mind" and quietly walk away. Don't feed her emotions. She might escalate at first but eventually she'll start leaving you alone.

Her words are going to hurt, but just keep telling yourself that they are not true.

Ashlee said...

I suggest being polite and ignoring her.

The ugly part, though. That's usually because of jealously. Just remind yourself of that fact whenever she starts telling you that you're ugly or whatever. It's not a reflection on you, it's her being insecure and trying to make you feel bad.

Anonymous said...

I must say, I'm always a bit jealous of siblings who participate in the same subculture. It'd be nice to swap music and clothes and things :) My sisters are about as normal and preppy as you can get, and I'm the odd one out in my family.

Riskia said...

I truly love being a Goth! For so long, I've been wearing black clothes and slowly evolving into the Goth phase because I knew it was ME! I've always loved being so different! At one point, this little girl I was tutoring started copying my ENTIRE LIFE! It was such a pain, because I couldn't share any of my recent activities or share my likes and dislikes publically (i.e. Facebook) because she would CONSTANTLY stalk me and end up changing her tastes to be like mine. This got serious. She was not herself anymore, but she had become ME. The worst is even her MOTHER was doing the same to our family. They bought a new house JUST to paint and decorate every room just like our house. At one point, I had enough. I decided to write them a letter while accompanied by my mother to explain to them what I was feeling. The letter was extremely polite and well-mannered but still they got very angry and it ended there. The little girl stayed away from me and got her own style back. I was finally free!

I started wearing black in grade 3 in hopes to slowly evolve into a Goth because I really loved this style! I was the black sheep in the family! But from grade 2 until grade 8, I was constantly bullied. My little sister, whom I saw as my best friend back then, was the worst. She always had bad things to say about me, constantly calling me fat (I was a chubby kid and I knew it and I hated it), ugly, B**ch, cow, and so on... She knew I had hardly any self-esteem and she knew where to hit me for it to hurt. It hurt me so much to see my best friend, my little sister, be the worst bully of all. I wanted to stay away from her as much as I could. So the Goth thing amplified. I did not want to be associated to her WHATSOEVER! I was happy to be the different one, the one that stood out, in the school and in my family! I was the only Goth and I liked it! I used to always compare myself to other people and I hated my image. I would always put myself down because I would look at others and wish to be like them. At least when I was different, I couldn't be compared to any of the mainstream people, and I couldn't be put down by myself or by others.

But then my sister started doing the same... She started wearing my clothes, wanting everything I had, doing the same things as me, etc... Now it has gotten to the point where she makes it seem like some kind of "competition" if you must. I can't go shopping anymore without her sprinting into the store first so she can say she saw an item that we both like "before me" and buy it before I can. I would like to share with her and spend some time together designing outfits or ripping up some clothes or painting our rooms, etc...

But every time I try to talk to her or give her advice, she attacks me before thinking. She starts yelling things and calling me names... For example: My mother would never let me dye my hair. She kept saying it was bad for us and bla bla bla... A few months ago, she finally let me dye my hair and I was so happy! People wouldn't take my sister and me for twins anymore! But guess who wants to dye her hair now! She wants to dye her entire head of crazy neon colours, but I told her to be careful because it would fade very quickly and leave her with an unwanted faded/bleach colour. She started calling me names and putting me down because she didn't like what I told her. She was never like this before!

Riskia said...

My sister used to be the funniest and most hyperactive person I had ever seen! She was crazy and creative and knew how to make us laugh! When you would ask her what her favourite colour was, she would answer: "Rainbow! Because I like all the colours!"

It all changed so suddenly. I speak of this to my mother sometimes and she tells me that my little sister is only searching for who she is. I feel flattered that she picked me as her idol but there are limits. My limit was reached a long time ago.

I don't want her to be ME! I like being my own person and I liked her for who she was back then. I want her to go back to being her, not restraining to do everything like me. Now I constantly compare myself to her. She is skinny and she always was, while I was a bit chubbier than her. I always wish I could be like her because she seems to have absolutely nothing wrong with her. Now I feel like others compare us too.

All that to say, dear Anonymous, maybe you should put yourself in your older sister's shoes, just like Amy mentioned, and think of all that might go on in her head towards this. Maybe she would like you to go back to your old self, because she wants your bond to be what it used to be. Be yourself and you will be loved for who you are, not for who you wish to be.

(Sorry I had to post this in two comments because it was so long!)

Nightwind said...

If your sister is older than you, and you just turned 20, then she should start getting over her attitudes toward you. It's time for her to grow up.

To say that you are ugly and not a goth is ludicrous. In my opinion you are both adorable and an inspiration to us all; even to someone like me who is considerably older.

I would say, politely rebuff her taunts in ways that others have suggested here and by example, let her know that her hurtful comments are not going to affect you. When she sees your level of maturity she will begin to respect you more. You certainly deserve it.

Velvet Cat said...

I cannot imagine behaving like that. I am the eldest of 5 (I have 3 brothers and 1 sister). My sister and youngest brother went goth a few years after me (one brother is a furry, the other otaku) and I love to encourage them and show them things. I wish your sister could see how wonderful it is to have things in common and that it is something you could share. I wish you the best of luck with this situation.

ultimategothguide said...

Had this e-mailed to me by a reader:

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