This is a post that I promised a long time ago and am finally getting around to writing! I have noticed from my time spent lurking on forums and one or two concerned e-mails and comments I receive that often a concern amongst younger Goths and those new to the scene is something along the lines of, "I'm not comfortable wearing heavy make-up, does this mean I can't be a 'real Goth'?"
Of course it doesn't! Whilst quite a few Goths (for example Jillian Venters, Lady Lovescraft and Sophistique Noir) wear make-up from day-to-day, you may notice that such make-up looks, though skilfully applied, are not always as dramatic as the everyday make-up of, say, Joji Grey or Adora BatBrat. I would expect that very few people have the inclination, time or skill to apply such beautifully elaborate make-up every single day, although I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes I could.
Most of us who wear make-up have a fallback 'basic everyday' look, which, if I may generalise, often consists of black eyeliner, a dark eyeshadow, black mascara and probably a hint of eyebrow pencil (a lighter eyeshadow is also sometimes used for shading, to add interest), possibly with red, brown or purple lipstick for the ladies and black eyeliner for the gentlemen.
One of the useful things about heavy Goth make-up is that it can turn 'normal' features into striking dark beauty; heavy dark eye make-up, red lipstick and false eyelashes have that effect! Some of our favourite Goth models would be rendered almost unrecogniseable without their intense make-up looks.
Goth make-up tends to exaggerate and emphasise the features all at once, which can actually be quite daunting for the first-time wearer, because you may well look in the mirror and find you don't look like 'you' at all. This may be pleasing or unsettling depending on your mindset; the first time I wore really heavy make-up I was so unnerved I washed it all off again - now you won't catch me outdoors without a faceful.
Personally, after this experience I've been building up my 'tolerance' gradually; going from just eyeliner and mascara (when I was fifteen-sixteen) to dark shadow (and an unfortunate panda-eye phase around the seventeen-year mark), learning application skills as I go and plucking up the courage to wear heavier macquillage for clubbing and other events. Sometimes, however, it's refreshing to wear a lighter look and be able to recognise myself in shop windows!
However, there are some Goths who don't wear make-up at all (I know, shocking, isn't it...). Not everyone likes to wear make-up, for various reasons, and this doesn't mean that you are a 'poseur' or a 'fake Goth'. I spent most of my 'early Goth' years minus make-up, except concealer and mascara. You don't have to wear make-up or dye your hair to be a Goth! Sod the people who expect you to wear black lipstick and six inches of eyeliner at all times; we're not sheep, we don't all need to look the same.
What if you prefer to wear natural make-up, e.g. neutral eyeshadows, nude lipstick, and even *gasp* a bit of blush? Nope, this doesn't automatically make you a poseur either. The make-up associated with Lolita fashion is often subtle, understated and natural; it creates an elegant or girlish look, very suitable especially for Victorian and romantic styles. If your style is punkier or more casual, there's still nothing wrong with a soft natural look - it adds a hint of extra femininity to a punk-tinged or deathrock style and emphasises the low-maintenance attitude of a casual look too. (Here's an example of a fresh natural look that wouldn't look at all out of kilter with Goth style. And another...)
|Kristina of steampunk band Abney Park.|