My first exposure to the goth world was when I was in junior high. There was a this lone, quiet girl who didn’t seem to have too many friends. But she drew a lot of attention because of her unconventional outfits. She wore black everyday, for one. She once wore red velvet pants, and another day, wore pants with white skulls on them. She also wore thick dark eye makeup and dyed her hair black. This was all in eighth grade.
When I first saw her, like many, I was scared and repelled by her. She was a freak to me, and I wanted her to go away. Yet, at the same time, I was intrigued by her and her outfits. I found myself wondering what she would wear each day, and sometimes I liked what I saw – such as a lacy black top or a fuzzy off-shoulder top. It was unusual and daring, and I slowly was fascinated with that type of style.
I could never dare to dress like that, though. This was junior high, the epitome of childhood bullying. Dressing goth like that was like social suicide. I could never dress so differently from everyone else. Plus, my parents were rather strict and wouldn’t support me expressing myself in such a way. You can say my self-expression was repressed. It would be for quite a long time.
A year later, a few more kids began dressing in that “rocker” type of style. Only they were more grungy and Marilyn Manson-like. Meaning, they either looked dirty or downright scary. There was no way I was going to emulate them. Besides, Marilyn Manson was huge with this crowd, and I was not interested in the music. Too loud, too hateful, too scary, too much of a lot of things. I was turned off.
However, I became so-so friends with one of the girls in this crowd. She was cool, in the sense that she literally did not care what other people thought of her. Totally. Honestly. And it was really amazing to witness her brush off, or even laugh off, verbal and physical harassment from the other kids. Adolescence is such a difficult time, and wanting to be accepted is a major part of the period in life. Many at that age wants everyone to like them, so to see someone bold enough to laugh off brutal comments was admirable.
I moved later that year, and at my new high school, there were some goth types, though they were more like metalheads when I look back on them. There were a few who were genuine goths, and I met a few of them. Again, they were so cool in their insistence on being different. But I was far from ready to not worry about what other people thought of me.
Still, my interest in the goth subculture was there. I remember when Madonna’s “Frozen” video came out, with her in that goth attire. I watched and rewatched that video so many times because I was so intrigued by her outfit. I knew then I was drawn to the romantic, mysterious side of goth. I wasn’t into the vampirish, dark metal kind of goth because it seemed too hard for me. But the other kind? Wow, I used to daydream about dressing like that.
But I was having low self-esteem issues, and suffering from depression for most of my teen years. In fact, all of my teen years saw me having low self-esteem and depression. I had zero confidence and a poor sense of self. Years of being bullied and given poor guidance in life led to deep confusion and self-hatred. I started to dress in a way that shaped an image of what I thought I should be. I wore pastels and bright colors. I wore outfits that had sequins, glitter, and lace on them. I wanted to feel pretty because I felt so ugly inside.
I would have this mindset, and dress like this, during my teens and my twenties.
Then, when I turned 30, things started to change for me, as it wonts to happen when people turn 30. I began to discard my pretty clothes, and began focusing inward. I began dressing plainly and simply. I became more self-aware and more self-confident. My self-esteem improved.
With that, my interest in dark clothing and even goth fashion began to spark in me. I was becoming more honest and more comfortable with myself. And I had to be honest that dark colors were like a bright light for me.
During all this, however, I would face challenging moments and dark situations that exposed to me a different side of me. I began to understand that my mental issues would never leave me, and I would have to manage them rather than try to banish them. I began to make peace with my inner darkness, which included depression, mania, anxiety and pessimism. As I did, I felt more drawn towards goth attire. It was as if dark clothing, especially black clothing, helped me embrace my own inner darkness. Wearing black was a like a filter for my darkness so it could come to surface for the rest of the world to see. I could not go on wearing pastels or bright colors. Dark clothing was it. Whether it was black, gray, burgundy, purple, dark blue or red, I felt at home in my own skin finally.
But not all the colors I wear are dark. Because I believe in healing and inner peace, I also wear ivory or cream colors. I could never wear actual white, so I stick to something a couple of shades darker. Maybe someday I’ll wear magenta, but not yet.
As I explore my goth side, I find myself enjoying the jewelry, the clothing, the music most often liked by goths, and some of the entertainment. However, I realize there is so many facets to goth subculture. There’s literally dozens of subcultures within the subcultures. There’s corporate, bohemian, punk, cyber, vampire, and so much more! It’s a bit tough to find where I place. You could say I am corporate goth because I have a professional job. There’s also a good chance that I’m boho goth because I love boho clothes, though in dark shades! Then there’s the Victorian-romantic look…
Either way, I will find my path into the goth world. I’ll soon figure out what it means to be a goth – for me, at least. All I know is that I have been drawn to this world for a long time, and I’m finally embracing that fact. I am exploring myself and learning more about myself. As I develop, so does my personal style.
To be continued….