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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Necessity is the mother of re-invention

Left to my own devices I don't think that I ever would have moved on from Goth, or my version of it, filled with 'spooky cute' accessories, stripy tights, and things with bats on. But recently I came to realise that even though I still strongly identified with many aspects of Goth culture and had a strong fondness for the community as a whole, I was becoming increasingly discontent with the idea that being non-conformist to acceptably Goth standards meant listening ONLY to certain music and dressing ONLY in a certain way.

Don't get me wrong, I know from personal experience alone that not all Goths are so judgemental and certainly not everyone who is a fan of dark culture will expect you to conform to their personal idea of what Goth is to accept you as part of the scene. But I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Long-time readers will know that crimping personal tastes to fit labels is certainly not what I'm about and never will be. I was reminded of those slightly awkward adolescent years when I tried to buy the 'right' clothes to impress the 'right' people, and something inside me rebelled against the idea of reliving a time when I didn't feel good enough to be accepted for who I was.


So for a while I had a bit of an anti-Goth phase, a week where I experimented with anything and everything that could never be considered Goth. Hell, I even bought some fake tan. I felt a little lost, ricocheting from style to style with no particular purpose, hoping that something would fit and give me a new lease of life, a new identity to try on for a while. My friends were not at all sure what to do about the 'new me', although a few tentatively ventured that I looked nice in more 'fashionable' clothes and it was nice to see me in something with, you guessed it, a bit of colour.


Colour. Bright, vivid colour in day-to-day dress was a favourite of mine from childhood. I still have my rainbow striped flares in a suitcase in the spare room; they were the first item I ever saved up and bought for myself. I was excited to rediscover my passion for colourful clothing, and whilst I felt a twinge of guilt for the betrayal of my Goth roots when I branched out and bought a pair of canary yellow skinny jeans (yes, I saw you wince) I also found myself wondering if my all-consuming six-year passion for Goth style had led to me suppressing this love of unconventionally bright hues.


There followed an awkward period of trying to adjust my fashion antennae (excuse the awful metaphor). I didn't want to buy things just because they looked Goth, or because they were bright, or even because they were a little off-beat. I wanted to find things that I really, genuinely LIKED, all labels aside, things that I would want to wear and keep on wearing because I thought they were beautiful and because I felt like they looked good on me. (Adding an identity crisis to a wardrobe clearout makes your job ten times harder, just FYI.) The end result was, well, a little confused.


With style icons ranging from Jillian Venters to Doe Deere to the cast of 90210 (yeah, I said it), a continuing fondness for black velvet, spiderweb and bat motifs but a revived love of quirkiness and unexpected colour combinations, and a secret love of fashion magazines and high-end designer labels (not to mention an ever-expanding hat collection), I began to realise that I was perhaps not suited to fitting into one box. The Goth label had begun to feel a bit redundant; I still loved most things about the fashion, music and culture but I no longer felt sure that the tag applied to me. I liked having the freedom to experiment with fashion, the quirkier the better, and experience different styles and genres of music without feeling like a fraud for calling myself a Goth. I'd rather enjoy 'being myself', cheesy though the sentiment is, than adjust my behavior and preferences to better fit a label in the eyes of others.

As I said I still have a strong affection for the Goth 'label' and my love for and enjoyment of large aspects of the culture remain undimmed. I don't mean to come out and say 'omgz I'm not Goffick any more' - my interests, tastes and personality haven't changed, so if I was 'Goth' before then I'm 'Goth' now. But my attitude has changed - I'm not overly bothered about what label others want to stick on me or if they think I'm a 'real Goff' or not. As grey-lips on Tumblr succinctly put it, "I'll settle for being dark and odd."


I still have a whoooole bunch of Gothy topics I want to talk about but it's more than likely I'll be adding a lot more into the mix. There will be more personal posts and photos (hopefully of better quality), perhaps some more 'general' posts, lots more music (from many genres but predominantly Schwarze Musik), and more alternative fashion from all over the spectrum. A little bit of everything; you could say, a whole rainbow of stuff ;-).
I started blogging to indulge my love of writing, and to connect with like-minded people who are enthusiastic about the same things as me, and I'm sure that such people exist both within the Goth scene and outside it. I really, sincerely hope that some of you will stick around, at least long enough to see if the new blog is of interest to you, and if not a big thanks for supporting me and my blogging over the years. I don't expect to continue the success that The Ultimate Goth Guide, somewhat shockingly, achieved more by luck than judgement, but for those of you who like to talk about fashion (Goth and otherwise, with the emphasis on the odd and the off-beat), music (likewise), books, movies, art, news, or just want to see where it all goes from here you will be most welcome. Thanks for reading!

21 comments:

Sal Kaye said...

Hi Amy.

Thank you for being so honest. Everything you wrote in this post is familiar to me. I have felt like you a thousand times in my life - and I feel like you right now, too.

You said one of the wisest and truest things here: buy and wear stuff you love - only because you love it (and not because it can be labeled "goth" or anything else). Same with books, music, movies: love what YOU love and not what you think you SHOULD love.

Thank you, Amy, this post touches me. A lot.

Dirgesinger said...

You are wonderful as always. It felt so good reading this post. Though I had my last phase of non-Goth a pretty while ago (some 10 years?:)) I still remember the feeling and you have captured it very well. I am absoléutely interested in anything you might post, because I am interested in YOU as person in a whole and not primarily as a Goth.

The Cemetery Dreamer said...

I'm glad that you are being honest and true to yourself because Goth and all other types of alternative culture should be about expressing yourself; your life, your loves and doing/wearing what makes you happy.

I think you have great style and a talent for putting together even the unexpected into great outfits (I still think you rocked the pants of doom). So I'm sure your fashion posts will continue to interest and delight me.

I'd like to see the yellow skinny jeans. Whilst I personally cannot wear yellow because it makes me look jaundiced; and god knows I tried, I think it can look really fantastic.

Bored_Homeschooler said...

I'll definitely keep reading the new blog,rest assured.

And,you're right,life is about doing whatever makes you happy.That's one of the reasons living under a label can be extremely hard and frustrating.You're always gonna like things outside the label,so staying under one can be hard.Especially one like goth where emotions tend to run kind of high.(For some reason that makes absolutely zero since to me.People really should not take themselves so seriously)

Anyways,good luck with everything.

Daniel_8964 said...

I agree what you have said. I'm pretty much like you. The Individualist type like you stated on your old piczo blog. This post is well said, it is truly the principles of being 'alternative' as it is actually about being yourself in your own way of ideas and choices. :)

Vyzov (Mike) said...

Excellent post, I know too many people who force themselves to fit into the narrow definitions of labels when that isn't who they are.

I wasn't exposed to he goth subculture until relativity recently (2 years ago or so)but when I was I realized that I had quite a bit in common with it but there are also alot of things about the subculture that I don't identify with. So I took that parts of it I liked, and I went and applied them to the only label that matters to me, myself. Goth is just now a part of me along with many many other things.

It sounds like you to have come to realize it as well. Take what you love from various places, smoosh it all into a big ball and place the only lable that matters above it. "Amy"

I look forward seeing the new direction your blog is taking.

Nightwind said...

A week or two ago a lady whom I admire and whom I consider to be totally Goth described herself on Facebook as a cross between hippie and Goth. Her statement reminded me that we're all complex individuals and that our upbringing and the things we experience during our lifetimes determine to a great degree the persons that we are. We're all a combination of many things; no one is purely Goth, punk, hippie or any other subcultural type.

I often like to use the word bohemian when describing alternative, free-spirited people. These come in all different styles of dress and demeanor; yet, they are easily identifiable and often friendly gestures of recognition pass between two bohemian types even when they pass one another for the first time.

As for me, I do consider myself somewhat Goth or at least Gothic, but I know that's not the whole story. Still, even when commenting on this blog, I have insisted upon my own individuality in style of dress and musical taste. I have always defended my love of metal for example, while maintaining that I am more Goth than metalhead.

As for dress, I enjoy the Goth style to a great extent, but I still integrtate my own personal style into my darker mode of dressing. As I type this, I am at our public library and I'm wearing blue jeans and an open blue denim cover shirt; only my T-shirt can be described as Gothic. Like you Amy, sometimes I need to find a different equiliberium too. It's all okay; we are who we are. Part of getting older is learning to be comfortable with ourselves.

I wish you the best as you and your blog evolve.

Xanthy said...

Oh sweetie, I know the feeling so very well. I'm still sorta having it. On the one hand, I feel stupid for having finally found what feels like my place in the world, then 'betraying' it - on the other, I'm not the kind of person to fit just one label.

V said...

I'll definitely keep reading Amy! Xxxx

Katherine :) said...

I'll keep reading, it is better to be yourself anyway :) You're awesome either way :)

Traicetrak said...

Hi Amy. I'm inspired to paraphrase one of the things Vyzov said and add my own tag onto the end of it. Goth is a part of who we are. It doesn't consume, possess, or MAKE us who we are. And everyone suffers a bit of an identity crisis when trying to shape one's style in a way others will find acceptable. I have, and I'm so much older than you! But they're necessary for a little wake up call that we aren't being true to ourselves, so I'm glad you're taking that call and getting your feet back under you. Personally, when I find myself focusing to much on the Goth label, I've lately reminded myself that above being Goth, I'm eccentric. I have eclectic tastes and I value creativity. THAT is what defines me deep down. So if anyone wants to say I'm not goth ... okay! and if they say I am ... okay! I know that forgetting the label is going to open you up to having fun again. You may even come back identifying more strongly than ever with the subculture. That happens quite frequently I think. But, no matter. Of course, I'll keep reading.

VelvetBat said...

I know that feeling very well! Every now and then I also have a phase where I feel really lost and don't know what to do fashion-wise.

And now? My clothes aren't always goth. I sometimes dress gyaru, sometimes lolita, sometimes just plain goth (black skinny + black girly tee). And when I do gyaru I do tend to lean towards the styles with a gothy flavour, but I can also pop some colour there.

For lolita I usually stick to blacks, but I really plan to try out other colours as well. Hell, I even want an outfit in offwhite and brown colours for quite a while now! And once I have the money again, I'll buy it too.

But I have also been asking myself quite a lot, "am I still goth when I do gyaru? Or lolita, even in light colours?"
And I think I am. I still love the music, I still love the typical goth clothes (even though I don't wear them that much), and I still love other odd fashions and heavy eyeliner. And the general gothic aesthetic. And goth people. Just because I change to a different colour in my clothes, it doesn't mean that I am changed.

So experiment as much as you can! Why limit yourself if you like other things too? That would be so sad! And goth is about being creative too right? So be creative with your looks. :)

Anyways, whatever direction you will go, I will probably keep in reading your blog anyways! ^^

Good luck with everything!

Daniel_8964 said...

I wholly agree that you like to wear whatever you're comfortable with and what makes you as a person with your own unique tastes, than fitting into a certain label to please people or to conform to their opinions. Opinions aren't meant to be taken seriously, if you like doing it or wearing it. Stick with it and take having fun seriously. If you feel the "goth" label is redundant, you're just your own individualistic self in the subculture and not a cliche or sterotypical one. I'll also continue reading your blog now and the distant future...

Julietslace said...

Just be careful about mentioning Doe Deere, she's got a lot of drama behind her and she doesn't deserve any hits from you. Seriously I wouldn't normally say it but you've a special place in my blogger heart, don't want you near anyone like her. Humph.

siouxsiel said...

No one cares about labels as much as you think. And the people that care that much about labels aren't worth thinking about.
Excited to keep reading.

Amy Asphodel said...

Juliet's Lace - you've never given me bad advice yet so point noted. Thanks for the heads-up.

Anonymous said...

what's the point in saying these things as if now you're saying you're not a goth you're allowed to do them? you've been doing them all along.
'spooky cute' is not a legit style of anything.

xToxicTears said...

Huh, made for an interesting read! Its so foreign to me, I've always simply worn things that I really love, so I'm guess I'm lucky I never really suffered through this kinda thing, except a teeny bit recently when subconsciously I'd been paying too much attention to the "rules" of different subcultures, all it took was a little soul searching and as soon as I figured out thats what I'd been doing, I realised why I wasn't happy and fixed it.

There are certain things with different styles that I haven't worn because I don't like them that would be very -insert subculture-. For instance, I personally don't like coffin jewellery etc, no matter how goth it may be, so I rarely wear anything with them. And when my style leaned more towards cyber there were TONNES of very very cyber things that I frickin' hated and refused to wear haha.

:3

Vulcan_Butterfly said...

Sounds like you've figured out something very important. Participate in the subculture in your own way and dress however you want. I think you'll find that people worth being around don't care how "GOTH" your outfits are. Wear your yellow skinny jeans proudly, be yourself and don't let the "goth" label restrict you in exploring what you like :)

alberto said...

hi amy ... be authentic is the most important. It is not betraying a fashion, an ideology or a lifestyle, it's your welfare, your happiness, that is much important that the words that people can say. Your true friends, if they are, they will not leave you, just because you are no longer gothic, or hippie, or because you are, or because you like colors different the black. You choose your way, your lifestyle, your ideology, and nobody can or has the right to force you to believe their philosophies. You´re free, my dear Amy, you can be whatever, long as you're happy and don´t damage anybody, all is well...
...and, i insist, you´re so fucking beautiful... please marry me!!!! XD....
... greetings and an bear hug from (fucking narco failed state) Mexico city....

InfiltratorN7 said...

Good for you sticking to your guns. Being alternative and part of a subculture should be about having the freedom to express yourself, be yourself and to think freely. It should never be simply another clique ala high school where the insiders get to decide who is in and who is out and what the rules are. That perspective on what goth should be about seems very childish and doesn’t make much sense really. It seems some people become the thing they hate (i.e. bullies). It’s very sad when it reaches a point where you only wear things, listen to things, read things [etc] simply because it is goth and not because you genuinely enjoy it. It is also just as sad to pretend you don’t like something or have a hobby or an interest in something simply because it isn’t goth! So what? You like it? Good! That should be what matters at the end of the day. Do what you want to do, not what someone else dictates and rules. You should feel free to experiment and be creative, otherwise what’s the point?

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