Thursday, 7 July 2016

7 things I wish someone had told me when I was a babybat

We all start from somewhere when we find ourselves interested in a new subculture. We don't always know where to go from there but we do know that we want to get there eventually.
I gathered up some things that I wish someone had told me when I was trying to find my way.

1. It's okay to not dress goth 24/7 365 days a year.

Fashion is often the biggest sign we look for when we want see other goths. Why? Because it's an easy way to identify someone like us. But it's not always the truth because not all goths dress the part. Some might not be able to because it would be dangerous for them. Some might not be able because it's inconvenient or forbidden to do so at schools or at work. Some might not be able because their families won't understand. Some are still building their wardrobe and finding their style, which take time. Some just don't have the time, money, energy, or even the desire. Some days you might want to go all out but the next a shirt and jeans are all you want.

This is all okay. The goth subculture is extremely diverse and fashion is only one of the things that connect us. You are not any less of a goth just because your look is not spooky 24/7, trust me.

2. It's okay to not look and act like the stereotype.

On top of not having to wear goth fashion every day, you are not obligated to look like the pale, red-lipped, raven-haired stereotype. Do not be pressured into feeling like looking like that is the only way you will be accepted.

There are goths that are not pale. There are goths that have pink hair, no hair or their natural hair. There are goths who wear hijabs. There are goths who never wear black. Be yourself. Experiment with your make-up, with your hair, with your clothes until you find what works for you. Don't let the expectations restrict you. Your comfort is the priority because you are doing this for yourself and no one else.
Same goes for hobbies. We don't all need to be musicians, authors, and painters. Do sports, bake, grow vegetables or collect stamps all you want.

3. It's also perfectly fine to look and act like the stereotype.

If the stereotype is your ideal look, rock it! The main thing is that you do not force yourself into being anything you're not. So if you enjoy writing poetry in the moonlight while drinking red wine and listening to Bauhaus with a black cat purring by your winklepickers, don't be ashamed. Embrace your clich├ęs, it's more fun that way.

There is also no shame in being a goth with a mental illness! I have heard so many people say they feel like they need to hide their illnesses because they do not want to contribute negatively to the stereotype of a depressed, mopey goth. But it's a part of you, it's real, and it's okay. Mental illnesses can affect anyone and you will not give goth a bad name by having one.

4. It's okay not to know.

There is a huge pressure in the subculture to know its history, and the prevalent opinion seems to be that no matter what substyle of goth you belong to you need to be educated on the subculture's origins. Without taking a further stand on whether I agree with that or not, I want to point out that no one can learn forty years of culture history overnight. It takes time no matter the subject, and goth being such a widely spread and branched out subculture it is a lot to take in. Luckily it's quite easy nowadays (it wasn't back in my babybat days) but it is still a task and it is fine if it takes you time to figure it all out. You are a babybat: you are growing and learning as you go. I still am and I have been in the subculture for over a decade! So don't sweat it, no one is expecting you to be an expert right off the bat (he-he, pun intended).

5. It's okay to listen to music other than what is considered goth.

Listen to anything you like. Yes, really, anything. A few jam sessions of cheesy pop or smooth jazz is not going to change the fact that you love The Cure, so just listen to whatever makes you happy in the moment.

6. It's okay to not like the classic goth bands.

To be honest, I did not start getting into the old goth rock until my 20s. I preferred Cradle of Filth's version of No Time to Cry to the original and I preferred The 69 Eyes to Bauhaus. I knew about the classic bands and I visited them every now and then to see whether I could get into them, and one by one I eventually did. But that doesn't happen to everyone and it's not really something you can force to happen either. As mentioned in topic number 4, a lot of people will expect you to at least know the bands even if you don't like them so be prepared for that. Music is undeniably a very big part of the subculture, but there is no reason you should spend your life listening to music you don't enjoy.

7. It's okay to not wear expensive brand clothing.

I'm happy to say that this doesn't seem to be as big of an issue as it used to be, but I still see the topic come up every now and then. Sure Hellbunny and Lip Service clothes are beautiful as are Demonia and New Rock shoes. But they cost a lot. There is no shame in wearing outfits created from mainstream store or second-hand items. (In fact, I whole-heartedly support reusing old clothes in new creative ways. You can do magic with some do-it-yourself skills and cheap clothes from a second-hand shop.)

So there we go, 7 things I wish someone had told me when I was a babybat. I feel like a second part will be in order at some point, so let me know if you have anything you wish to be added to the list!

Stay spooky!
Anna

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