My last post about the article in Vogue Italia threw up this issue for me. I had always known that many non-Goths dabble in Goth fashion for Halloween, and to a certain extent I feel this is acceptable - there's no better place than your local alt store to source funky-coloured hair dyes, spider jewellery and fishnet tights for a Halloween-appropriate costume.
But I'm starting to think there's such a thing as a step too far. I turned my nose up last year at Poundland's Goth-branded make-up and accessories - these are bad-quality items which I feel it's unfair to brand as Goth, since most Goths would not wear poor quality make-up or rubber 'spikes', and what is the point of costume goods that don't accurately reflect that which they are meant to depict?
Pre-packaged Goth costumes are worse. Most of us are more likely to go 'awwwww!' at cute little kids in Goth or punk-styled Halloween costumes, and for young children I don't think it's a bad idea as it's a way for your teeny one to feel involved with what's going on at this time of year without running the risk of anything offensive or inappropriate (I may be on my own in this, but I just don't think that small children and fake blood are an appropriate combination).
But for adults, I'm really not sold on the whole idea. Again, there is the issue with quality - you can imagine the cringe-making moments when a Goth dressed up in their finest regalia for a night at the spooky club bumps into someone clad in a tacky polyester 'Goth' costume, smeared in ridiculous Crow wannabe make-up, who gets excited at meeting someone else in a 'Goth costume'. The embarrassment at having one's expensive velvets, elaborate make-up and overall look which took hours of time and effort compared to something in cheap panne that came out of a plastic bag in a supermarket must be quite something.
|A Goth costume|
Source: Google Images
|An actual Goth, namely the stunning alt model ToxicTears (her blog over here)|
Image used with permission.
OK, there are worse examples I could have chosen, but I think this one illustrates nicely the inferior fabrics, not to mention the lack of effort, that goes into 'Goth' costumes. The only useful thing about these costumes is that some have interestingly patterned mesh or lace fabrics that can be removed and used for other projects.
The second problem I have with this is that the idea of 'Goth costumes' draws that somewhat uncomfortable parallel between Goth and fancy dress. (A pet peeve of mine is that when I donate clothes to charity shops or sell them on eBay, people buy my expensive (but sadly too small) dresses and other items for fancy dress or Halloween.) It's bad enough that Whitby Gothic Weekend is frequently described in the UK press as a 'fancy dress event', but I don't particularly like the implication that the clothes I am devoted to and enjoy wearing every day are 'fancy dress'.
Sure, if you take the very literal meaning of the words 'fancy' and 'dress' - I own loads of fancy dresses! But for me they are not costumes, I am not dressing 'as' anything. The idea of putting on a costume is to make yourself look like something other than yourself, whereas Goths in all their finery are creating an ideal version of themselves. Goth clothing is an (admittedly fantastical) expression of self; everything from personality to aesthetic preferences to music taste and interests in the paranormal, a particular form of beauty (e.g. elegance or fetishistic), or a period of history can be depicted via Goth clothing. It's expressing oneself, not disguising oneself. Goth costumes also tend to play up the stereotypes we'd rather avoid - those of dark, sullen, mopey, tarty or even angry creatures who smear themselves with black lipstick and lurk about in corners.
Am I being too uptight about the rash of 'Goth costumes' on supermarket shelves? What do you guys think?