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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'Goth yourself'

Apologies for the mini-post, I don't usually do this but I just stumbled across this on Facebook and HAD to share it pronto. You may already be aware of the upcoming movie This Must Be The Place, in which Sean Penn stars as an ageing Goth rock star. If not, voila, trailer:

On the Facebook page for This Must Be The Place, you are encouraged to 'Goth yourself' by uploading a picture and going crazy with virtual make-up, hairstyles and accessories. I can't decide whether this is more ridiculous or hilarious, but, well, you know you want to.

Goth yourself here.

Outfit post: the Cat's hat

Kitty Lovett of Bloggery of a Gothcat sent me a box of goodies by snail mail recently, and I had to show you guys the lovely purple mini-hat! (Kitty tells me that she bought this for herself but ended up sending it to me instead. I am honoured.)

Just chillin'. In a field. That's how we roll in Britain.


Herp derp. >.<
Please do not take photos of me mid-sarcastic remark. It results in this, which is scary.
That hoodie has silhouettes of fairies playing guitars on the front. I love it so.

Thank you, Kitkat! <3

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A summer reading list

Continuing with the theme of 'things I really like at the moment', I thought I would share my summer reading list with you guys. Despite all the overtime that's going on, I do spend at least one day a week lounging in my back garden reading (when the weather is as good as it is lately). Lately I have been basking in the sunshine like a lizard (I was alarmed the other day by my own lily-white rear view, which turned out to be not so much elegant porcelain as pasty jellyfish, so decided that perhaps a little bit of vitamin D might be in order...), so I have been reading a lot of new books and rediscovering some old favourites.

  1. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite (it's a cliche, but that's partly why I love it. Perhaps a book about pale brooding Gothy vampires is a slightly odd thing to read on sunny days, but never mind.)
  2. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (the True Blood books are, in my opinion, the perfect summer reading for the darkly-inclined vampire fan.)
  3. Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer (looks amusing, sweet and fun!)
  4. It by Stephen King (I can brave re-reading this in broad daylight. I hope.)
  5. Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
  6. Gasoline by Dame Darcy
  7. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz (yes, more vampire fluff.)
  8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (it's one of my favourite books of all time.)
  9. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  10. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
  11. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (the more I read it the more I love it.)
  12. The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls by Emilie Autumn
  13. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  14. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  15. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (ahem...)
What books do you like to read in the summer months? What are you reading right now and what all-time favourites do you recommend?

Stuck in a style rut?

I'm sure that many Goths and other aficionados of alternative and unusual fashion have at times found themselves slipping into a bit of a rut. A signature style is one thing, but when you realise you have the same three outfits on rotation you might find things getting a little stale. Here are a few ways to break the mould and revive your passion for your wardrobe.

  • Experiment with colour. Wait, come back! Whilst I know not all of you are colour-phobic, when you're adhering to a Goth look it's easy to forget that there are other colours in the spectrum that can create an equally dramatic look. Especially if you frequently shop in charity shops or thrift stores where clothing is arranged by colour! When rushing, it's easy to glance at the 'black' rail and bypass the rest. Not only might it help to make more time to browse and look out for yummy things in white, purple, red or pretty prints, but you could always challenge yourself by purchasing something in a colour you wouldn't usually wear and making it work with your existing wardrobe. Obviously, choose an item you actually like, or this exercise is pointless! But a pop of colour can bring an outfit to life, and a cream-coloured pillbox hat, pair of pink boots or a scarlet belt might be just what you need to look at your wardrobe in a new way.
  • Mix up your make-up. For a breath of fresh air in your daily style, try doing something different with your face. If your dress-down outfits usually include no more make-up than a hint of concealer and dab of mascara, try dolling up your face Adora BatBrat style. Or if you usually depend on heavy rouge noir lipstick and a tonne of eyeliner, try a vintage-inspired gold eyeshadow and scarlet lipstick. Or go barefaced, if you dare! Different make-up can give a day-to-day outfit a whole new interpretation.
  • Get new inspiration. If you usually ogle Goth blogs on Tumblr for your outfit inspiration, try searching for a different term that interests you. I'm sure there are more 'strands' of alternative fashion that spark your interest? Decora? Fairy kei? Seapunk? 'Pastel Goth'? Mori girl? Whatever it is, try looking it up and see if you can use influences from that style in today's outfit. Try Fuck Yeah Urban Tribes to discover a whole load of styles and subcultures you've never even heard of.
  • Don't stress. You don't need to look 100% perfect every day. If you need to spend a day chilling in your jeans then go for it. Everybody needs a break sometimes.
  • Take inspiration from the mainstream. There are more than a few worthwhile ideas in mainstream media, including a few that I must remember to try, such as mixing prints. You could always try putting a unique Goth or alternative spin on current trends - it may not work but it could be fun! Can you imagine a Goth take on the safari look, for example?
Le me >.<

Ten songs I'm into right now...

Hello all! Apologies for the lack of recent updates, I have been a bit scatty with my blogging lately because I'm trying to make the most of the good weather! And much overtime at work.

Just to prove I'm still alive, here are ten songs I'm into right now (regardless of genre) that I hope some of you will also enjoy.

Scarehead - HaHa


Bauhaus - Hollow Hills


KidneyThieves - Before I'm Dead


Raggedy Angry - Don't Mess With The S.S.


Method Cell - Call It Cutting


Iggy Pop - The Passenger


Rhombus - 4472


Abney Park - Building Steam


Mindless Self Indulgence - Shut Me Up


Johnny Hollow - Devil's Night (3am remix)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

(Dark) Sunshine Award

I received this award from the lovely Leena. :-) Thank you!


Rules:
Post the award picture with a backlink to the person who nominated you
Answer the ten questions posed to you
Pass on the award to 10 or more bloggers (I'm going to link to ten bloggers who I feel deserve this award but please don't feel you have to post it, especially if you have been awarded it already!)

Questions:
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite animal: Bats
Favorite number: 7, 2, and 13
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Chocolate milk
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
My passion: Reading
Getting or giving presents: Both.
Favorite pattern: Stripes
Favorite day of the week: Tuesday (my relaxation day!)
Favorite flower: White lillies, red roses and bluebells


Nominees:
Le Professeur Gothique

Midnight Waltz on a Moonlit Autumn

Juliet's Lace

Sophistique Noir

The Walrus Room

SpookyUniversity

Sincerely, Boots

Graveyard Picnic

Early Autopsy and White Scissors

The Blog of the Dark Alternative

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Is make-up a mask?

In my coffee breaks at work I have been reading a book called The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, which discusses how women are bombarded every day with images, discrimination and political and social pressure all relating to their looks and what effect this has on us both personally and as a group. I'm not halfway through yet but it has been a thought-provoking and alarming read (did you know that a judge once sentenced a woman to lose three pounds a week or be sent to prison, which had nothing to do with the actual charges for which she was facing court?!).

Additionally, as I was reading through some of my favourite blogs today I came across a recent post by style blogger extraordinaire Gala Darling, taking a look at how the way we present ourselves affects not only how others percieve us but how we feel, and how strongly we can be influenced by mass media and the pressure from society to fit an image, even when we think we are bucking such trends.

Whilst I certainly don't pretend to have an equally insightful take on the topic of the pressure to be beautiful, it has made me stop and think about my own behaviour. In her post Gala linked to No Make-Up Week, and I have to admit, I cringed at the very idea. Sure, I can go out without powder and heavy black eyeshadow, but don't you dare take my picture, and I haven't been seen out of doors without foundation, concealer, mascara and eyeliner in years.

Five years ago. Bless.
Make-up serves different functions for different people. It can enhance our assets and draw attention to our favourite features. Or we can use it as a mask, to hide perceived imperfections. Many alternative fashion aficionados use make-up as another form of creative self-expression, using their face as the canvas for dramatic and decadent artistry. Some, of course, choose not to wear make-up at all.

But make-up (or fashion) shouldn't be something we feel we have to hide behind. So, OK, I don't photograph well without eyeliner, but surely the thought of seeing my friends without a protective coating of cosmetics shouldn't make my stomach churn the way it does. The fact is that I feel awful if I go out in public without full make-up. Even if I'm hungover and feeling absolutely rotten, I still manage to feel self-conscious and wonder what people are thinking.

In full make-up. That's my 'natural' look. XP
I was surprised to discover that I feel this way about my make-up because on the whole I'm not especially bothered about what others think (I like to think you have to have a reasonably thick skin to show up at work in a tutu). But I'm distressed, nay, frightened, at the thought of exposing my flaws. What's that all about? I don't mind people thinking I look weird, but I do mind if I don't feel pretty? Where is the logic?
My usual look - heavy black shadow.
I'm sure I'm not the only Goth girl who was accused of 'spoiling her looks' when she applied heavy dark make-up, got piercings or dyed her hair. My dark make-up made me feel more me and I didn't like the implication that I couldn't be different and still be 'pretty'. Looking back, I realise that I didn't like being told I had to look a certain way to be pretty, but being Goth or alternative doesn't necessarily mean you don't still feel the same pressure to conform to some larger view of 'beauty'. I have friends who think they need to lose weight before they can wear Goth clothes. The models we see on our Tumblr dashboards, alt fashion magazines and dark music videos may be tattooed, plus-size or shaven-headed but they all have clear skin, even features and perfect teeth, with or without the aid of Photoshop.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but I do wonder, since the alternative worldview can accept different body shapes, outlandish hair styles and body mods of all descriptions without batting an eyelid, why are so many of our visual representatives in underground media so uniformly, stereotypically classically pretty? If we can admire and accept tongue-splitting and scarification, why not cellulite, moles or crooked teeth?

Just a thought.

I'll admit it. I'm a twenty year old female; my body image and self esteem are not great. But honestly, nobody's perfect, and looking like a human being shouldn't be anything to be ashamed of. I know I'm treading around the edges of cliche territory here but I was frankly a little upset to find that some of my day-to-day choices about how I present myself are governed less by personal preference and more by fear of how I might look to others. I want my experiences with make-up to be about fun and expression, not about creating a candy-coated suit of armour.

Fuck fear.
Four minutes ago. The word you're looking for is 'derp'.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

March linksplosion!

Dyonisis

To begin with, let's have a look at seven great posts from around the blogosphere:
  1. In December, Darling Violetta wrote this post with the attention-grabbing header, "Goth is a phase". But don't panic - this is an interesting take on the number-one woe of young Goths everywhere ("everyone thinks it's a phase!"), reminding us that growing up and changing is not necessarily a bad thing.
  2. Another of my favourite bloggers, The HouseCat, always pens incredibly insightful posts, and an offering from February entitled Goth, Subcultures, and Middle-Class Rebellion is a perfect example of why her blog, Domesticated, is such a must-read.
  3. I'm sure many of you are as excited as I am about film-project-in-progress My Summer As A Goth! Mary Rose at The Everyday Goth has posted her own thoughts on the project, as well as sharing with us a test scene from the film! You may have already seen the delightful Gothy-makeover scene, but if not, I highly encourage you to go and have a look.
  4. An outfit dump post from PastelBat at Carousel Dreams includes some of the most inventive, colourful and thoroughly spookycute outfits I've seen this month! I love this lady's style! My favourite is the outfit with the aqua wig and black lipstick.
  5. Tenebris in Lux of Never-Ending: Playlist of a Psycho loves her some music (she works in radio, so this is not a huge surprise), and recently came up trumps with a post discussing what she refers to as the 'strays' of Goth music, covering other genres that many Goths are likely to enjoy listening to and why it's OK to experiment outside the realm of specifically Gothic music.
  6. Juliet's Lace has so many lovely posts that it can be difficult to pick which to feature in each linksplosion, but I can't resist sharing with you this quintessentially Juliet post answering some of the most ridiculous yet frequently asked questions about the Goth scene.
  7. Katelynn at The Life of a Baby Bat addresses some of the concerns that the parents of young Goths are likely to have about Goth dress, and offers tips on how to handle them in a mature way in her post Compromising with the Parents.
Next up, my ten Etsy picks this month:
  1. Let's start with something really eye-popping! This stunning feather headband from Bubbles and Frown has me crossing my fingers and praying for overtime. What an entrance you could make wearing this to the club. Also just the ticket for faerie festivals.
  2. Combining Beetlejuice stripes, octopus tentacles and some lovely lime-green accents, I absolutely adore these tentacle earrings from deceptions.
  3. These coffin rings from AliceDearArts look just lovely in ivory and lavender.
  4. I think that these spinal column earrings from bonejewellery would perfectly accessorise almost any outfit.
  5. I don't know about you, but most of the time I just can't get enough of make-up! Purple lipstick is definitely a staple in my cosmetics bag, and I'm not sure I can resist a shade called Morticia
  6. I may not be the biggest fan of Joy Division out there (although Love Will Tear Us Apart is growing on me) but some of you, I'm sure, will appreciate this Ian Curtis tank top from TheRockerShop.
  7. Give your gift-giving a spooky flair with these lovely vampire bat gift tags from brandywine.
  8. Respirators and goggles are fairly standard accessories for cybergoths, and it can sometimes be hard to find anything a little, well, different, which is why I like this skull respirator from olnat31sun.
  9. Speaking of different, this syringe earring and necklace set from EssemDesign is really unusual and would go with a lot of different styles, although I don't suggest you wear it to work.
  10. Last but not least, I love this skeleton cameo coffin-shaped flask key chain; what a gorgeous gift idea! 
And to end this month's linksplosion, how about twelve inspirational outfits and coordinates from the best-dressed spooksters on the internet?
  1. These two are both beautifully dressed! You may have noticed that I love a well-coordinated couple and this pair look simply amazing! (From Goth Underground.)
  2. You can never have enough pink, and this fabulous lady shows a real dedication with this incredible hair. I'm fairly sure it is fake, but does it really matter when it looks this incredible? (From Fairie Tail.)
  3. I love the elegance of this outfit (and what a beautiful photograph, too!). (From Happy Un-Birthday.)
  4. Ballet pumps and bloomers was a combination that for some reason never occured to me until I saw this photo. (From Mora Wintersoul.)
  5. I really love the use of colour in this make-up! Her hair is just gorgeous too. (From All Things Goth.)
  6. Now THIS is what I call a concert outfit. This ensemble was put together for an Emilie Autumn concert, and I take my hat off to this lady! (From Lydia BatFiend.)
  7. This is another simply mind-blowing outfit; this lady looks like a real fairy gothmother amongst all those feathers. (From Goth Style.)
  8. I can't decide which is more awesome; the pink-and-black striped bustly ensemble or her beautiful hair! (From Sweep The Cobwebs From My Mind.)
  9. Ereshkigal never looks anything less than perfect, so this picture proves no exception. (From Ego-X.)
  10. We're used to well-dressed Gothy couples, but how about a whole family unit? All together now: d'awwwwww! (From American Goth Girl.)
  11. This lady looks incredibly beautiful with a shaven head; another epically-dressed couple. (From Decomposition Dance.)
  12. Kato is flawless, and I do love a white steampunk ensemble. Yummy! (From Mazemind.)
Lastly, I thought I'd add an extra treat to this particular linksplosion. My round-ups have been focusing heavily on fashion, so why not add some music? Here are five free, legal downloads for your audio pleasure:
  1. Devilish Presley - Inside The Haunted House
  2. Plastique Noir - Desire Or Disease
  3. Cryogenica - Stereochrome
  4. T3RROR 3RROR - 3D
  5. Escarlatina Obsessiva - Paranormal

Monday, 19 March 2012

Emo and LGBT murders in Iraq

Many of you who also read Siouxsie Law may already have been aware of the shocking news that teenagers in Iraq - reportedly an approximate 100 - have been murdered by militia for their mode of dress or their sexuality. Members of the LGBT community and those who wear emo fashions have been targeted. Some have also been reported kidnapped or tortured.

Posters had been seen on streets and cafes in Baghdad containing threats to young people belonging to such groups, according to Gay Middle East. An Iraqi blogger says that the threatening messages told teens that they had four days to change their behaviour.

Eyewitness accounts mention horrific violence being used against the teenagers, including beating them to death with concrete blocks and pushing them from the tops of tall buildings. An LGBT activist claims that five youths who survived the attacks were subsequently murdered as they lay in their hospital beds.

More frightening still is that these attacks are apparently sanctioned by the Iraqi Interior Ministry's community police. The director, Colonel Mushtaq Taleb Muhammadawi, said to the Iraq News Network, "Research and reports on the emo phenomenon has been conducted and shared with the Ministry of Interior which officially approves the measures to eliminate them."

UK newspaper the Guardian says, "Starting last year, mosques and the media both began raising the alarm about youthful immorality, calling the emos deviants and devil worshippers. In early February, somebody began killing people. The net was wide, definitions inexact. Men who seemed effeminate, girls with tattoos or peculiar jewellery, boys with long hair, could all be swept up. The killers like to smash their victims' heads with concrete blocks.

"There is no way to tell how many have died: estimates range from a few dozen to more than 100. Nor is it clear who is responsible. Many of the killings happened in east Baghdad, stronghold of Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (the League of the Righteous). Neither, though, has claimed responsibility. Iraq's brutal interior ministry issued two statements in February. The first announced official approval to "eliminate" the "satanists". The second, on 29 February, proclaimed a "campaign" to start with a crackdown on stores selling emo fashion."

This blogger (link contains graphic images of the victims, please be warned), who wrote the above-quoted article, has more information on those targeted during the recent attacks - many victims are not what we in the West might think of as 'emo' but were simply sporting hair gel or skinny jeans - and says, "One thing that strikes me in reading about Emos is how much other adolescents target them for bullying in places where the subculture genuinely has flourished, like the US. Emo style (unlike the comparatively hard-edged cynicism of goth) emphasizes open emotional vulnerability coupled with a certain nervy fearlessness in displaying it. You can see how, in a society with repressively stratified gender roles like Iraq or high school, this would be a comprehensive recipe for not fitting in. Boys aren’t supposed to be vulnerable at all; girls would face reprisals from more confidently feminist girls for reveling in their weakness, and from boys for the covert, armored bravery with which they reveal it. Equally, you can see how, for those who feel at odds with those gender straitjackets, Emo would be a way to find a community, and an Archimedean point from which to start saying “no.” No one should slight the heroism in that."

From Shafaaq News
Source (another related article worth reading)
Whilst this is only one of many atrocities commited around the world on an appallingly regular basis, I can't help but find it shocking that a subculture like emo, generally viewed in the UK and USA as a 'whiny' teen fad, has in other countries been a target for such a level of violence. Upon reading the article on Siouxsie Law that drew my attention to this terrifying spate of attacks, I was reminded of previous 'anti-emo' riots in Mexico which were highlighted by the Gothic Liberation Front in 2008 (as also mentioned by the Guardian).

In 2008 several hundred people in the city of Queretaro formed a mob and went on an 'emo-bashing' spree. The rioting spread across Mexico, warranting police protection for the youngsters. A video of an emo teen being battered with a brick or rock even ended up on YouTube. The Guardian also mentioned an incident which I was not aware of. Last year in Saudia Arabia emo girls were arrested for 'imitating men'.

It's incredibly distressing that homophobia and alterophobia (fear of 'the other' - that is to say, anything that's different) should lead to such terrible attacks against innocent people - or should I say children - belonging to one of the most harmless modern social groups that exists today. My deepest sympathies are with the families of those who lost their lives to such sickening, senseless violence.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Short but sweet

I saw this at my bellydance class and had to share it! My class is held in a community hall and some of my friends from the class drew my attention to this picture on the wall.


We weren't sure whether the 'bad person' in this lovely drawing was intended to be quite so, well, Gothlike, but it was amusing (and a wee bit alarming) all the same!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Review: Steff Metal's Gothic Wedding Planner

After telling the family to relax, I'm not actually planning a wedding any time soon, I got stuck into reading Steff Metal's e-book, The Gothic Wedding Planner: A How-To Guide For Dark Couples in Love. Steff, a well-known writer and blogger, has combined a talent for writing and a wealth of personal experience to put together this handy guide.

One of the things I was most pleased about was the amount of information you receive for your money. As well as the Grymm and Epic Gothic Wedding Planner itself, no small fry at a very reasonable 232 pages, you also receive a free bonus Wedding Directory, chock full of links where you will find inspiration and items to help you plan your own special day, and a beautiful collection of readings which, whilst they might be perfect to include as part of your wedding ceremony, are also simply lovely just to browse through if you have a bit of spare time. A very nice surprise!

What about the e-book itself? Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of the information contained within is simply practical advice, presented with a refreshing lack of jargon or floweriness - handy facts, tips and guidelines for budgeting, avoiding common pitfalls and most of all, creating a wedding day that really reflects you as a couple. Better yet, it's not aimed at Goths alone; punks, Pagans, metalheads, steampunk enthusiasts and even Gothic Lolitas receive a nod from Steff, with suggestions for themed weddings, decor advice and even catering suggestions to please each of these subcultural denominations and more.

As someone not planning a wedding in the immediate future, I enjoyed dipping in and out of chapters (each helpfully broken down with headers to help you find precisely what you're looking for at a moment's glance) reading segments such as 'Gothic Food' and 'Body Modifications', but those with a date looming will also find plenty to calm that perfect-day panic, not simply to entertain.

I loved the combination of sensible, no-nonsense advice (right down to worksheets) with whimsical suggestions on designing every aspect of your perfect wedding (without breaking the bank), however outlandish or unusual your style, aesthetic or chosen theme - right down to a list of darkly delightful song suggestions for your first dance (everything from The Cure's Lovesong to, ahem, Monster Mash) - all presented in Steff's trademark warm, witty manner. Very enjoyable, and I'm keeping it on hand for future reference!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I got an award! The One Lovely Blog Award was given to me by the all-round charming Professeur Gothique. The rules for this award are simply to list seven random things about yourself and present the award to fifteen other bloggers. I'm sure that many of you have received this award already, but that just goes to show how lovely you really are. ^^

First I'll list my fifteen lovely blogs:
  1. Beribboned Cupcakes and Tattooed Bats. Courtney has beautiful clothes, pretty hats and is a genuinely nice, sweet person. This blog contains some of the loveliest outfit posts, ever.
  2. Midnight Waltz on a Moonlit Autumn. Currently my favouite Gothy blog! Lots of smart, well-thought-out posts on a variety of subjects. Darling Violetta has a tendency to say what we're all thinking or point out what we haven't thought of yet.
  3. Sincerely, Boots. Boots is awesome. Her blog is awesome. Nuff said.
  4. Allison Paige Eckfeldt. I love Ali's great fashion blog, and the lady herself is a real sweetheart.
  5. Bloggery of a Gothcat. Kitty Lovett sends me tiny hats; how could I not include her?
  6. Cemetery Sandwiches. Detailing Chloris's explorations of the Goth scene and beyond.
  7. Color Me Goth. Dismantlynn has been updating like a mofo lately!
  8. Confessions of an Australian Goth. What's not to love from someone who's blogging name is Dani Deathbiscuit?
  9. Gothica Gothique and the Emporium Gothica. Hmm, I wonder what this blog could be about?
  10. If Alice Were Into Platforms... Almost too much pretty for one blog. >.<
  11. Juliet's Lace. Amy of Juliet's Lace has been a constant source of great posts and good advice since Ye Old Piczo Dayes... that's, what, five years ago now?
  12. Siouxsie Law. Everything from news to nails goes on here.
  13. Sophistique Noir. Another of my favourite bloggers, ever.
  14. The Everyday Goth. I am still working my way through the archives of this great blog!
  15. The Gothic Embrace. Ponderings of a generally Gothic nature from a wonderful gentleman.
And now for seven things about me:
  1. The last movie I watched was Remember Me. It wouldn't have been my choice of film (girls nights in usually result in me watching things I would never usually watch!) but I actually loved it! 
  2. I am currently reading Stick Figure by Lori Gottleib.
  3. The last item of clothing I bought was this.
  4. I just found out that my job is being made permanent. Get in!!!
  5. Dan and I will be celebrating our eighth anniversary in May.
  6. My next tattoo is probably going to be a faerie on my right lower leg. I'm thinking probably an illustration from this book.
  7. In April my friend Mia and I should be meeting Courtney of Beribboned Cupcakes... at an Emilie Autumn gig in Manchester.

Pretty vs. practical

Over the last month or so I have found myself toning my appearance down a lot. In some ways it has been a relief - by adopting a more practical, casual wardrobe I hoped to be able to get to work on time for a change, and it has been nice to just slide out of bed, shove on jeans, boots, hoodie and hat (and make-up of course) and head out to wherever I might be going that day!

A club outfit from December
Going out for lunch in January
Casual outfits are also useful for day trips and excursions as I generally find them more comfortable and it means I'm not held back from taking part in things by my clothing - for example, last year I was at the beach when I saw bungee trampolines, which I would have loved to try just for the lulz but my fancy hat and flouncy skirt were not especially the best attire for hanging about upside-down. Not to mention that when going out with friends it is slightly more comfortable not to be stared at, harrassed or threatened whilst buying drinks at the bar.

I never had any real problems doing my job in multilayered skirts and backcombed hair, but often when getting dressed for work I would forget that I do actually have to go outside on my lunchbreak and sometimes walk home, so I would dress up perhaps more than necessary (I'm a peacock by nature and used to make the most of having a customer-facing role) only to face major awkwardness when nipping out of doors.

Some aspects of my job have been easier without clothing getting in the way - I have snagged many a trailing lace hem at work and last time I wore a plastic-boned corset in the shop I managed to snap three bones (on the corset, not me) just getting into the car! I also find it easier to layer up and keep warm during the winter months with more sensible clothing - even layering tights and bloomers under a long skirt is simply not as warm as popping on a pair of jeans.

However, there are obvious downsides to this plan! First and foremost is that I now have a whole collection of outlandish clothing that doesn't get worn as much as it should. Secondly, people are assuming that I'm growing out of my 'phase'. I actually had a regular customer complain yesterday that I look much more 'conservative' than I used to and it was nice to see someone who looked different. And thirdly, sometimes it feels downright boring.

So personally I'm setting aside one day out of the week, most likely a working day, to dress up a bit more and pull some of the lace and chains out of the back of the wardrobe again. Have you guys ever faced this sort of dilemma? What was your solution?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Guest Post: On being an alternative parent

Here’s a potentially shocking fact for you: not all Goth/Alt people are angsty teenagers! Well, of course, as a reader of this blog you know that. You have seen such examples as Le Professeur Gothique, Trystan L. Bass, and Sophistique Noir so you know about the crowd of grown-up Goths (not to mention our own dear Amy!). But one group of folks that hasn’t been talked about very much is the Goth/Alt parents.

Hi, my name is Holly and with my wonderful husband (known as TeacherMan) I have a 6 month old daughter. I am a Goth/Alt parent.

Holly and her beautiful daughter Miss Boo
My daughter watches me do my makeup in the morning and loves to run her hands through my purple hair. She likes to watch “Ruby Gloom” and our days have a soundtrack that is equal parts The Cure and Disney musical selections. Despite many people expecting that small children and babies are frightened by Goths/punks/anyone who looks different, my daughter tries to kiss the screen when we watch YouTube videos of Joji Grey and other lovely alternatively-inclined persons. 

Quite honestly, I have never found that my style is scary to the small set. In fact, children are generally a source of wonderfully frank questions on the exact color of my hair, or whether “purple is my favorite color” because my hair and nails are the same shade as a grape. In my experience, children are fascinated by differences and it is only when they have been taught that “different is bad” that they react with fear. I hope to raise my daughter with the mindset that everyone is different and that is awesome, something to be celebrated. Because a world full of people who all look and think the same would be so very, very boring.
Of course, since becoming a parent I will say that my style has changed quite a bit – mostly gone are the days when I had time to craft the perfect TropiGoth outfit involving layered jewelry and intricate makeup. These days I’m lucky to slap on some eyeliner and my clothes generally fall onto the black-jeans-and-tank-top side of things. But! Now I have this adorable little child to dress each morning as well – and that is a lot of fun. She’s 6 months old and already boasts her own pair of stripey legwarmers, star-studded shirts… Yes, there are times when I am jealous of my baby’s clothes!

I’m not going to say that as a Goth/Alt parent, you won’t run into little issues – like being stared at because the man at the table next to yours cannot fathom the idea of a purple-haired person with a nose ring having a baby, or having everyone assume that because your beautiful daughter is wearing a black top (with purple leggings!) she must be a boy. But on the whole, I have found people to be accepting and much more concerned with how many times they can tell my daughter she is “so cute!” than with how her parents are dressed.
So that’s us – two Gothy-types living our lives together and now raising a member of the next generation to embrace differences (in herself and others) and to, as Ruby Gloom says, “see the bright side of the dark side”.

Amy says: Huge thanks to Holly, aka TropiGothMama, for this great post! You can read more from Holly at her blog Starlit Home. This post was suggested by Darling Violetta, so thanks to you too!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Bat Fit 2012: Challenge Five

Almost caught up with the BatFit challenges now! The fifth challenge is entitled 'Brag-Fest', and is exactly that. In the words of Le Professeur Gothique: "For the next two weeks we will be having a BRAG-FEST! Yup, in the spirit of the ancient Celts we will raise our tankards in a toast to ourselves and all that we do! We will stand up and say, "I am awesome at xyz!" "I successfully accomplished xyz and I'm damned proud of myself!" Your challenge, if you chose to accept it, is to blog about, comment here about, or talk about with your loved ones those accomplishments that you are most proud; what makes you special; and what you love about yourself, etc. Everyday for two weeks you will celebrate YOURSELF. Pop the cork on the champagne and raise the glass high, for you are awesome."

OK, this is quite a difficult challenge. I like to think I'm quite good at giving myself a pat on the back when one is deserved but to do so publicly is a slightly different matter! But here goes...

Um...


...oh. I just sat staring at the screen for ten minutes there. This is harder than I thought! OK, let's do this:
  • I am good at prolific blogging and journaling. We are always told that to be writers we have to write every day. I got that in the bag!
  • I make time to help my friends. Just this week I let my trainee hairdresser chum attack my locks in the name of friendship (actually a deep conditioning treatment and a trim, very pleased with the results).
  • I learn things quickly; I can now handle all the Saturday paperwork we have to take care of in the shop.
  • Despite leaving school early due to my safety being at risk (and therefore not being able to get into college since I had no GCSEs) I continued my education on my own with correspondence courses and managed to get respectable employment at a time when unemployment in my country is at an all time low.
  • I rarely cook but the results are always excellent. If I do say so myself.
Aargh. That took half an hour! Well, that was my token brag, to save bragging you all to death I will continue the bragfest in my personal journal. >.< Hope you guys have plenty to brag about today!

Things I Love Thursday

Welcome to my first ever attempt at Things I Love Thursday, or T.I.L.T.! I've seen this on many blogs I enjoy and feels like a nice, positive way to start the day (yes, I just got up) so I thought I'd have a bash at it. :-) Gala Darling says, "I would LOVE for you to try writing a gratitude list to see how it helps you & changes your perspective. I know it sounds too simple to ever work, but it really does; it totally alters your mindset. In fact, the more you train your brain to focus on the good things, the better it becomes at looking for those positive things, & this is a way in which you can learn optimism!"

  1. I love that, although my life didn't turn out the way I planned (college, then uni, then being a rich and famous author before I was twenty-five - ha!), it has worked out exactly fine, as though the pieces just fell into place anyway. I have a group of friends that I love wholeheartedly who never cease to make me smile; a boyfriend whom I utterly adore (and we are approaching our eight-year anniversary, holy batcrap!); and a family who offer endless support and guidance. I have a job that I enjoy, a roof over my head, and a slightly grouchy cat. It may not be everyone's idea of perfect but it works just fine for me.
  2. Shopping! This week's buys include a new leather jacket, wide-brimmed floppy hat, a metallic pink handbag, some books, and a pair of aviator sunglasses. I will get rid of some of my old stuff... eventually.
  3. Spring is on the way. I'm generally not a fan of spring fashion and it's not my favourite season but this year there is something so uplifting about sunnier days, bluer skies and bikinis popping up in all the high street stores. I'm longing for warmer weather and it feels like it's almost here! Time to start stocking up on suncream!
  4. Mysterious packages from fellow bloggers. I recently had a parcel in the post from none other than Kitty Lovett... photos coming soon! I love that our blogging community is ever-growing and pretty tight-knit (most our Aussie Goth bloggers go partying together now) and that there's always someone to offer advice, have a laugh or just chat about random stuff...
  5. Spending time with my dad. Dad and I now hang out usually twice a week; Saturday lunchtimes he meets me from work and we go to a local cafe for fry-ups and a chat, and on Monday nights we go out to dinner and then back to his house, where we slob on the sofa, drink tea with too much sugar and watch Have I Got News For You, QI, Mock The Week, A Question of Sport and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. (I also rummage through his piles of eBay stock for new shoes, natch.) My dad is pretty awesome.
Eternally greatful for my awesome friends (wayyy old pic!)
(Front to back: Spice (sadly passed away); Jena; Jodie; Vincent; Lucy; me; Dan.)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

BatFit (catchup!) Challenge 4

So the fourth challenge for Le Professeur Gothique's BatFit is to be good to yourself.


Le Professeur says, "You absolutely must try to forgive yourself. You can't be super critical of yourself, your work and what you do. And you need to cut yourself some slack and be proactive in your life. You also need to celebrate yourself and the good stuff that you do everyday. And you must do something FOR YOURSELF once a day."

At first I thought that doing something for myself daily sounded simple, but depending on your mindset it may not be as easy as it sounds. Nowadays it's almost expected for people, especially women, to set time (and money) aside for 'pampering' - facials, manicures, hairdressers, etc. - but it seems to me that often these 'treats' are often more about keeping up with the Joneses than actually making some time to do something nice for oneself. (Not in every case, of course!)

I do like to buy myself little (or not so little!) gifts every week; and for special occasions such as my birthday I do tend to splurge on things I could never usually afford, like the McQueen scarf I currently have my eye on. But being good to myself probably shouldn't include getting myself into debt, so I might reel in on the spending for a while.

So, in the spirit of BatFit, I made a little list of some of the ways I can be good to myself without overspending.
Laugh more.
  • borrow a good book from the library
  • work a bit more on my next novel (previous novel was written in a fortnight. This one has taken a year and a half so far. Go figure.)
  • go for a walk in the sunshine
  • go window-shopping or thrifting
  • work on a design for next tattoo
  • take some photos
  • write in my journal
  • listen to some music / dance
  • make a pretty, healthy meal or snack
  • bake some cookies
  • turn my childhood playhouse into a writing den (I have been itching to do this for months but I'm sure there are spiders aplenty in there *shudders*)
  • record a video
  • seek out some new music
  • dress up just because
  • go somewhere new
  • eat lunch al fresco
These are only a few ideas - I'm sure I will come up with plenty more. :-) Thanks Madame Professeur!

Help! My significant other hates my Goth style!

In my previous post about dating non-Goths, I mentioned how my partner Dan (whose birthday it is today, incidentally) has always been supportive of me however I decide to dress, and although he grumbles and mumbles a bit whenever I contemplate shaving sections of my head he has never batted an eyelid at any of my modifications or sartorial choices. I received an email this month that made me realise other people's other halves are not always so relaxed. In fact, the very nice gentleman who emailed me confessed that his girlfriend is highly disapproving of his preferred Gothy aesthetic and has expressed an intent to leave him if he doesn't change his style to suit her.

At first I found it hard to read such a piece of correspondence without being judgemental, but I quashed my urge to dash off an angry email in response demanding that this charming lad go and find himself a more tolerant lass who can see beyond the superficial and who doesn't want to 'change' him. Whilst my strong personal feeling is that you shouldn't be in a relationship with someone who can't accept you as you are, and you should certainly never begin a relationship with someone expecting them to change themselves for you, I don't know this lady and I don't know her motives for asking her partner to change his style, although I definitely don't approve of the ultimatum she seems to be extending.

There are some downsides to Goth/non-Goth relationships, even on a simply visual level - will your non-spooky boyfriend stick out like a sore thumb at every gig or club night you're dying to attend? Will he feel comfortable there? Conversely, will your preference for top hats and skull-topped canes embarrass your more conservative girlfriend on a night out to a regular nightclub or venue with her mates? Will she feel happy introducing you to her parents when you're clad in leather trousers and a corset? I don't think you should be expected to change yourself for your loved one entirely, but you both need to communicate and find compromises. If she doesn't want you to meet her grandmother wearing eyeliner, you can respect her wishes without losing your Gothy identity - just tone it down. But there has to be some form of give and take; if she sulks and glowers with a face like a smacked arse when you introduce her to your black-clad friends, perhaps it's time to have a think about how much you really have in common.

Speaking of things in common, perhaps another possible reason for a loved one being uncomfortable with your alternative style could be that they feel it's driving a wedge between you. I know that my friends have previously avoided asking me to events such as pop concerts or nights out at regular nightclubs because they've worried about offending my Gothy sensibilities or simply assumed that I wouldn't be interested. Does she think that your involvement with Goth will stop you from sharing her interests? Discuss it with her; show willingness to try things she's interested in or would like to do, even if they don't fall into the Goth category. A game of squash or bike ride together shouldn't kill you.
Dan and I on hols. (I get very excited about bus rides. Dan has epic duckface).
And whilst you're discussing the fact that being Goth doesn't stop you from being open to other things, you might want to gently try and work out how much she is actually aware of Goth culture and how much her view of your aesthetic and lifestyle is coloured by common misconceptions. Perhaps she's weird about you getting Gothed-up and going to the club because she thinks you'll be surrounded by scantily-clad vampire chicks offering cocaine (which depending on your local club scene might actually be close to the truth, in which case, assuming you're not in a polyamorous or open relationship it might be worth reassuring her that Goth does not equal automatically doing weird sex things with other Goths and that the only girl you find irresistible is her). I don't recommend giving her the full history of the Goth subculture, but maybe just mention that you prefer poetry, art and black humour to human sacrifice and drug abuse.

Hopefully by sitting down and having a heart-to-heart you can show her how important this lifestyle is to you and show her that it doesn't need to affect your relationship. However depending on her reasons for objecting to your preferred style she may stick to her ultimatum, in which case you need to ask yourself honestly how much you want to sacrifice to keep the relationship. Are you likely to find yourself resentful if you feel forced into a mould that's not at all you? Are you going to be happy in a relationship with someone who gives you orders to change? Maybe you could try calling her bluff - keep your black gear and big stompy boots but continue to be the all-round lovely person she was attracted to, and she might just decide it's not worth losing you over your style of dress.

Very best of luck.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Happy Goths

I like to think I'm a happy person. Sure, I have down days, bad days, fat days, bad hair days, grumpy days and why-bother days like everyone else but on the whole I'd say I'm fairly optimistic, upbeat and cheerful. It's not always easy. Sometimes things seem to conspire to try to put a downer on me, and sometimes other people can say and do things, intentionally or unintentionally, that hurt. But keeping a smile on your face and looking for the positive side can sometimes make the bad days a little brighter and the best days even better, which is why I keep on trying.

Unfortunately, being a sunny and enthusiastic person can seem to bring out the worst in other people. From the little things - people assuming that the smiley shop girl must be fundamentally stupid (I'm happy, not dumb) - to the bigger ones - people who think that the way to deal with a happy person is to try and bring them down - there is a sizeable proportion of the human race that seems weirdly opposed to happiness and cheery behaviour in others.

A joyful outlook really shouldn't be frowned upon. No, not even amongst Goths! My automatic response when making eye contact with another person is to smile; you'd be surprised at the amount of unkind comments and lairy chavs that have been derailed by a megawatt cheesy smile from the girl with the frilly petticoat and spikey boots. A smile is all the better when it's unexpected.
(Source)
Even if you're not a naturally optimistic person, I'm sure you know your own joys and pleasures, from a good book to a soothing bubble bath, a new top hat or your favourite old comfy boots. A walk in the park on a blustery day; when your eyeliner goes on just right; Friday I'm In Love on the radio. You get the picture.

This video never fails to make me smile... Industrial-dancing Goths strutting their stuff to the sound of... Dutch polka.

Maybe it isn't 'realistic' to be optimistic. But it doesn't make you stupid, or naive, and it shouldn't be a reason for other people - jealous people - to lash out at you. Remember that these people are only threatened by your sunny smile and cheery demeanour because they're missing something from their own lives. Don't get mad, don't get sad - keep smiling.

Whether you're a bubbly perkygoth by nature or a more cynical type, I challenge you today to do at least one thing that you really enjoy, that puts a smile on your face. Why? Because you can. :-)

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!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Day trip










Thursday, 1 March 2012

Self-Injury Awareness Day

Today, March 1st, is Self-Injury Awareness Day, a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness of self-harm and try to beat some of the common stereotypes that abound about the condition.

  • Self-harming behaviour is most common amongst young people aged between 12 and 24 but can occur at any age.
  • Self-injury is not about attention-seeking and not often associated with being suicidal.
  • It is usually a coping mechanism; used to communicate or deal with emotional distress.
More about self-harm here.

You can show your support for SIAD by wearing something orange, including a wristband, bracelet, ribbon or even nail varnish or simply drawing an orange circle on your hand.

For more information or support, visit Mind's page about self-harm. If you want to talk to someone confidentially, you can contact ChildLine or Samaritans. Please remember, you are not alone and you don't need to suffer in silence.

"Everything will be OK in the end; if it's not OK, then it's not the end." - I don't know who said this but I think it's a good thing to remember.

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