THOUSANDS OF FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES

Thursday, 13 September 2012

You can't shop here... you're a Goth

By chance I recently unearthed an old article from the UK newspaper the Daily Mirror. When I say old, I mean old - this article is from 2005. But I thought I would post about it, partly because it really irritated me and partly because this flags up something that, for quite a few of us, is still a fairly regular occurence.

The article is about a sixteen-year-old called Melissa Fletcher, and you've probably guessed this already, but she's a Goth (or was at the time). When out shopping with her friends, Melissa was banned from entering a shopping centre by security guards - despite having already visited the centre once that day with her mother, and causing no trouble whatsoever - because her appearance (red and black hair, a lip ring and black clothes) would 'put shoppers off buying'.

...

What the hell? Really? Now, I can understand that young people in 'funny' clothes can be intimidating - I, for example, might cross the street to avoid a loud group of young people with low-slung jeans and backwards baseball caps - so if you're an elderly person who knows very little about subcultures then I can understand why somebody in a long black trenchcoat and black lipstick might be a teeny bit frightening. So if they had cited their reasoning as not wanting to frighten OAPs, I might have understood.

But putting shoppers off buying? I never heard that one before. You get all sorts in a shopping centre; and I can tell you that as a highly dedicated shopaholic, the only kind of person that will put me off my spending and make me leave a shop is one who is attempting to put their hands on my person or who is being very loud or very rude (or potently unwashed). Not a young person shopping with their friends and minding their own business, whatever they happen to be wearing.

Melissa's mother Sharon told the Mirror, "Melissa does not drink, smoke or take drugs. She knows what is right and what is wrong but dressing differently is no reason to be singled out. Melissa had money in her pockets to spend but she did not even get through the front door. The security guard told me later that he was under strict orders not to let them in because of the way they looked."

Excuse me whilst I fume about this for a moment.

A spokesperson for the shopping centre (the Triangle in Manchester) had nothing to say other than, "If it is believed the behaviour of some is likely to compromise the safety or enjoyment of others, then the Triangle is able to reserve the right to refuse admission," which I personally think is rot, because since Melissa had already been inside the centre once that day behaving like a perfectly respectable and sensible young adult, why would shopping centre staff have any reason to believe her behaviour, and that of her friends, would be anything other than equally mannerly? Oh, of course... she had black clothes on. *facepalm* Silly me.

Rage about this particular situation aside, again, I can to a certain extent understand why security staff and store detectives in what seems like a rather large number of shops and malls might be wary about Goths, especially the younger variety. We have a tendency towards long coats and (in some cases) trousers with lots of pockets. We often travel in packs, although ironically this is partially for personal safety in some cases. We lurk around make-up counters a lot, where there are lots of small, stealable items.

But when not wearing long coats or large flappy trousers, it can get ever-so-tedious being followed by what feels like every security guard in every shop I go into (especially Asda for some reason...), or getting the 'warning glare' from the person behind the counter. (It's not paranoia when they really are watching you...)

I tend to take an 'attack is the best form of defence' approach to overzealous security guards (who, it must be noted, are probably missing out on catching the actual thieves by being too busy following me, you and other harmless darklings around). That is to say, if they have been lurking around me in a really obvious way for too long I turn to them, smile my biggest smile and say, "I don't need any help, thanks. I'm just looking at the moment." If I have to walk back towards the doors to get a basket, I will quite often walk up to the security guard first and tell them that that is what I am doing. They tend to back off somewhat after being - politely, yet firmly - addressed.

Not to say, of course, that all Goths are polite and courteous people who wouldn't dream of stealing - some, I'm sure, would happily take advantage of a five-finger discount. But such are certainly a very small minority, and I would have thought that focusing on following Goths around would therefore quickly become a waste of time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Van Shock
Source
Does anyone else notice this problem? How do you respond? Has anyone ever actually been banned from a shop?

29 comments:

Audronasha The Countess said...

Well it never happened to me. Thought I get looks in some shops. I myself scared some young darklings from my shop a few times. I just was so happy to see young goth girls and I tried to give all my attention to them. I guess they were not used to it and left soon :D But I'm always happy to help mothers to choose something for their black color loving daughters:D

SaryWalrus said...

I remember once. Late at night while coming back from the circus nearby a mall my boy friend, some friends (none of which were dressed provocatively at all and all I was wearing was a frilly dress and some striped socks with Mary-Jane shoes) went (at ten at night) to find somewhere to waste time before my father came to pick us up. The guard stopped us at the entrance to a large and open 24 hours a day store to tell us that we aren't allowed to bring bags inside the store. Which was complete bullshit because I've been in that store thousands of times. He also (and staff) refused to look after our bags at all. After furiously walking into the store and out again not able to buy anything because our money wasn't allowed in the store we left and was followed by the guard who told us we couldn't wait outside of the mall for my father to pick us up. Luckily he had just pulled up.

It was obvious that he'd taken the chance with us under-age, alone at night to reign down on us with prejudice. Every time I see that guard now I can't help but get very angry inside because of how I was treated.

Funnily enough, I can take random people physically abusing me on the street but someone in a position of power using that to discriminate just makes me angry to the bones.

And that that isn't the last time that's happened to me. Grr!

Well, gosh. This was a long comment. Sorry!

Oana Olea said...

That's a pile of dung bigger than all the village stables could hope to produce. I've never had any problems in stores (likely because I thrift/shop online a lot) but plenty of people feel the need to yell "Satan!" or "Emo!" (your guess is as good as mine on that one) after me on the streets.

Crimson said...

Thanks for addressing this problem. When I was 15/16 back in 2005 I would have shop security follow me around whenever I entered a store. Oddly enough before I graduated from University a year ago I brought up the topic with a (white) professor who was talking about how young black men get followed around in stores. I said that I could relate but she became angered with me because by saying that I (a white female) could relate to them was somehow negating there experience. Needless to say this leads back into the whole we chose to look this way verses other protected classes such as racial/ethnic groups do not. This mentality angers me. Regardless if someone choses to, or is born into a minority/stigmatized group they should not have to deal with discrimination.

LadyRowenaSaew said...

I've never been told to leave a shop but every single time i go to the store (any store) the security guards stop me as i leave and proceed to make sure i haven't stolen anything. I don't know if i just look really suspicious while i shop or if it has to do with being goth, but this happens at every store i go to. In fact, just today i was walking out the door with about 5 grocery bags and i was stopped by 3 security guards while a group of 12 year olds ran out right beside them with their pockets full of stolen cigarettes and a can of beer in each hand while a shop keeper was chasing after them. Only one of the security guards followed. Jeez, I'm a good goth girl who would rather cut of her arms than steal a cookie.

gin said...

I've had security follow me around several stores before. I usually stop them and tell them I've worked retail before and it's usually the people who aren't dressed in an attention grabbing manner that tend to be stealing, as that's one of the best ways of not being noticed is to look like everyone else. I have also be stopped and searched when just passing through stores in a shopping mall and have since decided to never shop at such establishments, no matter what mall I might be in.

Saphire Rainforest said...

Ask to speak to a manager to confront the issue of bad customer service. Managers don't like to lost customers or for mistreated customers to cause a scene.
If that doesn't work just leave and shop else where and come back with the shopping bags just to show off how much money you have that could've went to them like Pretty Women. They'll be sorry.

theEmocarebear said...

I'm one of those people with a very short temper, who will get more and more agitated the more I am followed.

Eventually, and if it goes on for too long, I will complain to management about the "Stalker" sales associates or guards, which tends to shame them into backing off. *Grins.* I never claimed to be subtle....

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

I do admit I get stared a lot by shopkeepers, security guards, etc.

It's just something I've gotten used to now. But then I'm usually the one who says "Thankyou" as I leave the store or say "Sorry" if somebody accidently bumps into me/I bump into them. The people staring at me usually get surprised that I'm so polite and quiet.

I'm really not quiet but I like to shop in peace gosh darn it!

Lady Zendra of Noran said...

I've never been banned unjustly from a store. but I still sometimes get eyed by security guards in stores. Mostly in the mall but I can understand. lots of the kids that dress like I do, steal. I know because I had friends in high school that did.

I mostly respond by ignoring them until about 5 minutes after i enter the store. then I am very nice and say things like "we just keep bumping into each other." or try to strike up a conversation.

Edna Ampersand said...

Once I shaved my head into a death hawk I started getting followed in stores or glared at by employees. What annoyed me the most about this is the fact that my hair was always in a ponytail and I usually wore nothing gothier than black flops, jean shorts, and a black baggy shirt with the collar cut out and no make-up (because it was summer here in Florida so it was too hot for anything else really). I had been in these stores a million times over the years but when my hair is pulled up I get glares from employees and sometimes other shoppers (usually rednecks and white trash who really have no place to be criticizing MY fashion sense when they go out in public wearing sweatpants, but no one ever said they were known for their tolerance and accepting nature). It really is frusterating to be singled out like that simply because I have parts of my head shaved.

Cerah Cemetary said...

That sounds like what they tried to do in Russia a few years ago, when they tried to ban anyone in "Goth" and"emo" attire from entering government property (including schools).

Except, this involves businesses, so it is harder to stop, when it happens.

Whatever supreme being(s) there are must love idiots. They make so many of them.

[ nikki ] said...

I have never been kicked out of a store for the way I dressed, but I have been kicked out of a store because of my friend's actions, even though I was not involved in what they were doing.

Kirsten said...

awful. another example of discrimination :(

App'y said...

On a recent trip to see my grandson, (1 year old) we went to Tesco, this gave me a chance to expand on the book I was reading to Luka;- RED Tomatoes/ Strawberries, GREEN, Apples / Lettuce etc. This gave the other shoppers something to look at (Like that bothers me)
This is the advantage of been 53 !

Natascha Benayas said...

This makes me so angry! If this is the first step who are they next going to exlude from their shopping centres because they might "put shoppers off buying"? Disabled people? They can make you feel sad or be scary for little children, does that mean they are not allowed in? Urgh. Every form of discrimination is wrong!

Cherry Divine said...

I KNOW THIS FEELING VERY WELL INDEED. WE CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO WORK AMONGST OTHERS IN OSWESTRY, BECAUSE YOU ARE AN OUTCAST. WE ALSO CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO HAVE BENEFITS, BECAUSE YOU ARE AN OUTSIDER BEYOND ALL OTHER OUTSIDERS. THIS IS HOW I'VE ALWAYS BEEN TREATED IN SHITTY OSWESTRY, BY ITS INHABITANTS. HOW WOULD OTHERS APPROACH THIS?

Daniel_8964 said...

I noticed this and I thought it sounded actually terrible and ridiculous. Sad that ignorance still is around and I fear of that because it is degrading. Why should people degrade others over a look? Absolutely shallow in my eyes. I also haven't been banned at a shop ever, thankfully.

Sheila said...

Hmm...in Canada a healthcare professional recently refused to serve a goth. You can read about it here
Fortunately several healthcare professionals on a interveiw I just saw considered this person's behaviour to be quite inappropriate.

Merrihel Wednesday said...

It's so strange how people are singled out. I mean, I work at an upscale clothing store in an upscale area and I maintain a certain standard of spookiness. One of my coworkers is also Goth (oh, joy, I am not alone there) and another has dyed black hair with dyed red bangs, although she's not Goth. We have no trouble mingling with more mainstream people... in fact, I often get complemented on my elegant, classy, and dark style.

punkasaurusJess said...

Yes, yes I have had this problem a LOT. I've never been literally *kicked out* of a store before, but I get the "warning glare" in a lot of establishments -- especially when I'm by myself...

I try my best to ignore it but honestly, it IS quite peeving... I mean, come on? Do you REALLY think I'm stupid enough to shoplift, steal or otherwise cause trouble when I'm so recognizable? Augh!

Anonymous said...

While I realize there are some who think all alt-types are up to no good, sometimes ones attitude can send the wrong message. If I walk into a shop with the idea that someone is watching me, it's going to come through in my expressions & body language; if, on the other hand, I walk in with confidence, greet the sales associates, smile, etc, I'm likely going to be received in a much more receptive manner.

Another thing that makes a difference is the *type* of clothing one wears. If one is wearing "higher end" goth clothing vs a band tee & jeans, the reception will be warmer, as well. This also goes for "normal" clothing; regardless of "style", a person (especially on the younger side) will raise awareness in a clothing store that sells pricier items if said individuals attire doesn't mesh with the pricepoint that is sold in the store. In addition, if a goth walks into a store that carries an inventory of 99% bright and/or pastel, sporty clothing, one may very well question their intentions.

The girl in the article raised no suspicions when she was with her mother, as you clearly pointed out. Perhaps it was assumed her mother would monitor her behavior, or that if she were to have the desire to steal something, she wouldn't dare with her mother there. However, it could also stand to reason that since she was just there earlier with her mother, why would she come back with a group of friends? If there was anything she needed, why wouldn't she have picked it up earlier? There are definitely two sides to this story, and the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Sophie said...

Amy, I get followed around POUNDLAND! Which I find frankly insulting. I've never stolen anything in my life and if I did, it wouldn't be from the pound shop.

...and Primark too. Though I've never had a problem in Asda :) xx

Autopsy Amy said...

I've been followed around in shops plenty of times, mainly I think because I'm the only obvious day-to-day goth often seen 'round these parts... I have no dark friends to accompany me, and when I go alone I'm often stopped "just for a chat" or some such nonsense before an excuse is pulled out to see my receipt or check my bag... Ridiculous. I'm sixteen, I have NO WISH to ruin my entire future with a Juvie record... I have noticed this is worse when my hair is unnaturally colored or I have on spikes/something more 'goth' than skinny jeans and a Bauhaus shirt. On the other side of this, the people (usually fellow females) behind the counter are often very very polite and many actively enjoy my outfits, and remember me even though I only go in to their shop once or twice every few months. One nice lady even yelled across the shop at a security guard who was giving me a particularly bad time... Some people like us! I try to be polite and quiet because I really don't like being focused on when I'm alone, it makes me worried for my safety, until they become belligerent at which point I usually attempt to concoct some sort of witty (somewhat within the realm of politeness) remark, and that usually shuts guards, suspicious shopkeepers and frightened interns up ;)

Vulcan_Butterfly said...

My friends and I were once denied entry to a restaurant while dressed in goth clothing. This was many years ago when I was younger. We are all polite, quiet people when we go out so I thought this was quite unfair (they were happy to let in a mother with her two kids who was yelling rudely at a hostess because a specific table she liked was already taken). When my parents found out about it they were really pissed as they knew that I was a polite person so they called the manage to complain and he apologized and said his staff was NOT allowed to deny people entry due to their clothing choices.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked in many restaurants, in many capacities, and at all levels, I have to say that the way you were dressed may have had less to do with being denied service than the fact you were young. I worked at a 24-hour diner in Hollywood, and after a certain time of night, we didn't allow teens in after dinner time, regardless of their fashion sense.

The HouseCat said...

My retort to overzealous security guards is something along the lines of "Do you /really/ think I'd dress in a manner so obviously identifiable if I was intent on criminal activity?" - I haven't had call to actually say this to one yet, but that's what I think. Usually I just smile nicely and ask if something's the matter...

Anonymous said...

I am a Goth but I mix really bright colours with my black clothes. One day I went to a shop that I had gone to heaps of times before and they said I couldn't come in because of my make-up. I was wearing black and neon pink lipstick, I had dyed my hair green and had black eye shadow on.(Sounds weird) They said if I don't remove the make-up I will be banned from the shop permanently. I didn't wash it off so I just don't bother trying to go there anymore.

Cherry Divine said...

Hi Anonymous. You did the right thing. Often enough it is more powerful or us darklings to boycott the places, that consider themselves OTT or Prejudice. They lose trade and respect from various members of the public too. Well done.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...