When my favorite bloggers go silent, you know what that means? . . . I get bored. Bored, bored, bored. How dare they all go quiet simultaneously? Of course, my Google Reader will say I have 30 or more unread posts from other bloggers … yeah… so?!! If they aren’t fulfilling my craving for goth fashion and culture, they’re worthless to me, I tell you. Worthless!!
I’m a wee bit obsessive.
It’s funny. I recall criticism flowing out of 90’s talk shows about how hard all the “nonconformist” goth types work at conforming to each other. What a laugh! There is such diversity among this sect of people, you can’t even pin down exactly what they are! “Goth” is just some nebulous term that seems to encapsulate what they all have in common, but it’s hard to define. Sure, they wear a lot of black, but not as some sort of mass uniform. An attraction to black is just something they all have in common. Well, most. There are always exceptions, as this newbie has to frequently remind herself when tempted into the pre-teen mindset of needing a prescription for fitting in. No rules to follow (or break, as the case may be) in defining one’s self is liberating … and terrifying. It’s a free fall; few risk it. It’s fascinating watching people who do, though, and daunting becoming one of them. That’s when I run to my favorite blogs with a pre-teen-like need for assurance. “Is it okay that I don’t want to give up color?” “How can anyone recognize me as alternative when I keep a natural hair color and don’t shave my eyebrows or cake on eyeliner?” “Do I have to embrace every frikkin’ Halloween cliche there is?” “But I don’t wanna pierce/undercut/tattoo anything!” Then, just when the insecurity nearly drives me to distraction, a blogger catches my attention with their particular spin on my concern du jour. There’s the lady who always looks polished and professional with only touches of gothic style which might pass your notice if not for an occasional Pleaser platform heel or dramatic weekend attire. Another elder goth eschews the trademark heavy eyeliner in favor of a more natural look, while still clinging to her black tresses, spool heel boots, and stripes. (Come to think of it, I’ve come across more goths not heavily made up for daily wear than those who are!) There’s the young cat lover who swears like a sailor, delights in Victorian corsets, bloomers, and petticoats, but freely admits to being unimpressed with most music designated as “goth.” There’s the lady whose sense of style often reflects a more punk flavor, embracing all kinds of bright color, but maintains her goth identity with spooky touches here and there. Also, other than outrageously dyed and ever-changing hair, she has none of the more permanent body modifications popular among alternative types. There’s the transplanted Englishwoman who calls her presentation style “out there,” but looks more glamorous than outrageous with her vintage 20’s attire that, combined with dark, goth makeup, gives her the appearance of having stepped right out of silent film. There are the late adolescents who demonstrate their gothiness mostly through dramatic hair and makeup style with devotion to all-black, all the time. There’s the perky young lady with orange, blonde, and black hair who is almost always casually attired. Of course, there are those who look most extreme, with piercings, tattoos, the whole nine yards. Some won’t be seen in jeans; some won’t be seen in pants at all; while others will claim jeans as their favorite article of clothing. There is no way of saying what a goth will never wear, listen to, or say. Besides being untrue from the moment it’s thought, it flies in the face of open-mindedness and creative individuality esteemed in the subculture and providing its very essence.
There are those who try pinning it down and putting rules to what goth is and is not. Some can get quite critical, even harsh, with those not living up to their particular standard. They must be driven by an insecurity of their own; a fear of losing their grip on something by which they identify themselves. Or perhaps it’s a fear of having the uniqueness they treasure get trampled beyond recognition by an onslaught of diverging influences. Maybe it’s a fear of becoming ordinary if goth became too accessible. Someone breaking the “code” then threatens their very existence.
There is something to be said for their concern. I mean, no one likes seeing something they value being treated as a novelty. If goth becomes something done to be “cool,” then it gets watered down to nothing more than a trend. However, there’s little danger for the authentic goth, knowing the point of it all isn’t to define one’s self by fitting into a particular box, but to break out of one and never look back.