Saturday, March 31, 2012

Of Being "Goth" and How I Feel About Labels...

                                                     (Most Goths do NOT worship Satan)

So by my blog title and my Tumblr (if you follow me), its apparent that I claim to be a Goth. I don't consider myself a baby bat, but I've only recently starting calling myself gothic. Even when I worked at Hot Topic in college (scoff all you like, but in the deep south, that is the only store you can find that is even remotely alternative), I never considered myself a Goth. I was just quirky little Audrey. I've always been drawn to dark, macabre and offbeat, music, movies, books - you name it! I'm not a fan of going with the flow...being like all the sheeple around me! I'm proud of my strangeness...whether for being nerdy or spooky! But for as long as I could remember, people have called me gothic. I never knew why....because I certainly never tried to be any such thing. Growing up, I hadn't seen many goths and generally just thought that being a goth meant looking like Marilyn Manson, sacrificing goats (who I kept as pets and still have a love for), and worshipping Satan....scary stuff! I thought it was a bad thing to be associated used to really piss me off. I was sick of being called a Goth, a devil worshipper, and a witch because I wore darker clothing and kept to myself. Excuse me while I rehash some things from my previous posts...but growing up, my parents were poor. The majority of my clothing was hand-me-down and the rest were picked out by my parents or grandparents.... I mostly wore jeans and random shirts. Nothing dark....Just old. I had no sense of style, let alone gothic style (which my parents most certainly wouldn't have approved of).... so there was no reason for such a label. Then as I got older and discovered my love for horror movies and rock music, I still thought of myself as a normal(ish) girl. I owned some dark, quirky clothing because I thought it suited me.....then I started working HT and dressed accordingly...still didn't consider myself goth. I had teachers and even my internship supervisor confronting me about being gothic....still strange to me especially because I had to dress in a very business-like manner for my internship (I taught music classes in a public elementary school) and couldn't fathom how I came off Gothic in the slightest! I was baffled time and time again...and didn't know what to say/answer. Finally, after graduating and not having to be under an oppressive, religious institution (my college)....I was free to figure out who I really was and wasn't restricted to fitting in with any people and their prejudices/puritanical judgement and paranoia.... I felt myself drifting even more towards what I now know to be Goth without a shadow of a doubt...I started reading a popular blog (I will tell you all about it shortly, I promise) as suggested by an old college friend and discovered that, low and behold, I really have been Gothic all along.... I realized that it was time to embrace it and learn all I could about what that meant! I will share with you guys a little about that....

(Siouxsie important founder of the Goth Music Scene)
(80's vampire flick "The Lost Boys")

Brief history of what it is and is not...what matters and what matters not (that was NOT meant to rhyme, alas!)... So the gothic subculture started with (but is certainly not restricted to!!! Despite what some may say!!!) the developed from punk! Bands like Siouxsie (Sioux) and the Banshees, The Damned, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure (that's one that most people should recognize), Adam (Ant) and the Ants, and Sisters of Mercy are all bands from the late 70s and early 80s that paved the way for Gothic Music and culture as it is now....and they are all important to know/give a listen if you want to have any credibility as a Goth. I will go ahead and tell you, you do not have to necessarily LIKE them or certainly be their biggest fan in order to be Goth. But know the history of your culture, baby bats! I started out listening to mainstream rock and still listen to a lot of that now....but just by research and recommendation, have found a lot of great Goth rock (and other forms of rock which goths can and do still enjoy...unless they are staunch purists! And that's no fun at all!) bands that have made their way in to my regular listening vault! As for movies, books, and gets a little hairy! There is so much to cover and I'm at a loss for how to sum it up! Books....I will sum that up by a quote from Wikipedia " is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance"  I think that puts it perfectly! You have classic literature like Brom Stoker's Dracula (I will say, that I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who claims to be gothic but hasn't bothered to read that at least once...but then again, it is responsible for vampire culture altogether...and happens to be my favorite novel of all time!), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein  , ANYTHING by Edgar Allen Poe (!!!!), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and many others leading up to more modern gothic horror such as the works of Anne Rice (another definite must!). Most goths like to read classic literature in general and/or any spooky or romantic stories involving the supernatural! Cliche as it may seem, it is the truth! Vampires are a guilty pleasure that we just can't resist!! Movies are about the same... pretty much supernatural horror movies are a stereotypical goth must! I like horror movies in general....but good goth standby's are Dracula, The Lost Boys, Interview With A Vampire, The Crow, anything Tim Burton....but most certainly NOT Twilight! When you see a goth or hear them talking about vampires, opening up with asking them about/talking about Twilight is not the way to make a friend! Some like it, most don't.....I read the books long before there was talk of a movie and liked them...but I liked them for what they were - a fluff romance series for young adults that happen to revolve around supernatural creatures. If you see it for what it is, it's decent....the horrible movies and fandom kill it so I avoid Twilight like the plague despite its original charm! But I digress......Fashion!!! Fashion is the main scary part to talk about...especially because I'm more of a casual goth most days which can be looked down upon by the elite.... Let me make this a separate matter!
                                                                   (Victorian Gothic)

(Deathrock couple! How sweet)
(Gothic Lolita)

Because I am currently unemployed (and therefore do not have fabulous budget of doom), have not mastered my sewing machine (which is helpful, baby bats!), and so rarely leave my house in this god-forsaken town, I can't afford to dress to the nines! Most days, I settle for black jeans or Tripp cut-offs (I will warn you, they are not in style any longer - even among Goths, but damn it all to hell, they are so comfortable!) and a black tshirt sporting either a band or something cute and batty..... But enough about my lack of style, let me go back to the lesson.... Goths don't dress in a particular cookie-cutter style....they are so many different styles of music and fashion all falling under the Goth title! You have Victorian goth (which is a favorite that I wish to be able to afford or make) which has you wearing corsets, top hats, elegant curls and dark mourning/funeral have Cybergoth where you wear alot of shiny PVC material, neon hairfalls, and goggles, etc (think fetish-wear), you have Steampunk (another fave!) where you wear antique-looking elegant clothing that is like Victorian goth but not as dark (alot of white and brown and some other complimenting color schemes - tame colors) but with an edgy reimagining - alot of brassy bits! Goggles, monocles, gears on everything, crazy contraptions galore! Punk and deathrock look similar to me....alot of mohawks, ripped up clothing and wild makeup! Rockabilly (which some would argue is not goth) is more 50's style apparel...think Betty Paige, Grease (but not as campy), Cry Baby! Alot of leather, tight fitting clothing, leather prints, heels, red lipstick...very sexy and vintage! There is also Gothic Lolita...which is a form of Japanese street style (pardon me if I have that all wrong) that is based around being dark but still very cutesy and girlish... dresses, cupcake stuff, bonnets, and curls! There are sooooo many styles and I'm probably doing none of them justice with my half-asleep descriptions.... You will primarily run into alot of normal looking youngsters wearing some random quirky or dark things that you MAY think are gothic but they say they are Hipster. If you don't already know, Hipster is NOT GOTHIC. In the least...
                                                   (And this is me....not all that decorative, right?) you have to fit one or all of these descriptions perfectly to be gothic? NO!!!!!!  Not at all.... But you should see some reflection of yourself in this blog at least if you are questioning your Gothy-ness! You don't have to like everything goth to be goth.... It doesn't matter if you're a Size 0 or a Size 18...doesn't matter if you're 13 or 35...doesn't matter if you're black or white... male or female or genderqueer....vegan or carnivorous! Those are important to get over first. Then realize that you don't have to be a Tim Burton junky, well read, or have nothing but designer darks in your wardrobe.... What you do need is to research/get in touch with your Gothic heritage and have an affinity for the macabre....the rest truly doesn't matter! I play Dungeons and Dragons, drink alot of tea, smoke pipes and cigars, and enjoy most things British and anime....those aren't very Gothy hobbies (well, maybe the tea has gotten to be lately) but I'm okay with that. I'm not Cookie-Cutter-Goth, I'm Audrey. And you're you - figure out what that means and embrace it! :)

I think I have covered the Goth subject as much as I intended to briefly address the second part of my blog title. Labels.... One of the other big reasons that I embraced the Goth title after all these years, is to find people of like-mind! I was sick of being around people that looked down on, disapproved of and generally misunderstood my personality... and have ached to make friends that I had these things in common with! The best way to do that, was to start self-identifying myself as what I was looking for - Gothic! There aren't many to be found in this area...but I have found a few (mainly through the internet).... Still this is a strange thing for me to do not only after shying away from it for so long...but also because I make a point of telling people that I am uncomfortable with labels and the extremes that come with them. After growing up fanatically Christian, the idea of throwing myself into a closed community of ANYTHING and exposing myself to their control, judgement and abuse is truly terrifying.... Which is why I am openly saying that I am myself - not living under the rules of a society. And as much as a few like to judge who and what Goth actually is down to a T, no one has that right and they certainly cannot sway me. And most Goths have been (at some point in life), bullied or oppressed for their choices/personality and should therefore know better to do it to others in their community. But anyways, labels and extremes are something that I still struggle with to this day. I try to moderate myself in everything. With my diet, I'm pescatarian...I cannot bring myself to go to the extreme of Veganism but I want to be healthier and therefore have managed to start cutting meat out of my diet... I glean positive things from what I learn of various religions into my life...I still hold some of my Christian beliefs (only the important, good things) but find myself being drawn towards Paganism but I have a hard time with the idea of committing because I am still on this search to figure out the truth (if we could truly ever know it) and where it fits in in my life.... I have been with women in the past and find them to be beautiful (part of my "Don't Hate, Congratulate/Appreciate" if you read my other post of the night)...but do not consider myself bisexual...I'm with the love of my life (a man) and don't worry about stuff like that...but I think that you are attracted to what you attracted to - love is crazy...its not under your control and certainly isn't always gender exclusive.... I don't feel the need to label everything in my life. If you do and need to in order to have order in your life, that is awesome. I just have no desire to. As for now, Gothic is about the only thing I feel the urge to claim.... 

[Edit: Have realized that I forgot to include all the pictures that I intended to add for well as the important references that I intended to share....adding now - hope that blog doesn't lose its coherence! Apologies! ]

At the start of this entry, I mentioned a blog that helped me initial discover my own Gothy-dom... and I would like to share it with you all and hope you find it as informative (and fun!) as I did and still do....Gothic Charm School !!! (Click that link to find yourself there) Jillian Venters wrote a book of the same title (that I still desperately want to own) and this blog where she gives advice to Baby Bats and Elder Goths alike! Its basically a much more in-depth, trustworthy (ha), and interesting version of this entry... plus she is simply delightful! I follow her on Tumblr as well (she is what inspired me to create a Tumblr)... she is hilarious, has excellent taste and style, is friendly and is on a mission to help the gothic subculture seem more understandable and approachable...and is a nerdy Goth, much like myself! Definitely a hero of mine...Please, please - go to her website and enjoy! Another great resource I've found on the internet is the blog that was formerly called The Ultimate Goth Guide (now Stripy Tights and Dark Delights) is a similar blog that is constantly updated with informative articles about the Gothic Subculture as well as the insight and journey of a gothic girl! I love her posts! Other than those...I find my best allies to be tumblr and Etsy (there are many affordable gothic clothing and accessories handmade by goths themselves).... Although a great resource for any goth as far as clothing goes, is to make and/or altar your own clothing by learning to use a sewing machine! I am working on that myself....And once I have gotten around to creating my Etsy store (I'm currently making all kinds of goodies), I will share the link so that you can purchase affordable Victorian, Steampunk and Lolita goodies from yours truly :)
                                               (Jillian Venters, Lady of the Manners. Gothic Charm School)

What about you, dear readers (if there are any!)? Where do you fit in with the Gothic subculture? Or are you an outsider with questions? How do you feel about labels? As always, keep your comments polite/ non-argumentative or you will swiftly be deleted.... 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Being THAT girl....

When I created this blog, I had so many ideas for posts...and I still have been bouncing around a few ideas but have lacked the motivation to sit down and write (partly out of depression but mostly out of wasting all of my time on tumblr! ha)....Well, in order to make up for my lack of posts...I am going to ATTEMPT to publish two posts tonight and hopefully get all of the points across that I originally intended for these subjects. Hope the topics aren't too dull! If not, read on and enjoy!

This first subject is something that I constantly struggle with....and from what I can tell, I am not alone. Not sure the best way to sum it up other than to call the problem "Wanting to be THAT girl!" Let me explain...I don't get out of the house much...I live in a small college town with my boyfriend...I moved here, away from my friends (and even further from my family) to be with him. I have no friends here. I have no job here (STILL trying desperately to find one) and I have finished college, so I can't socialize that way. Not only am I lacking normal socialization and diversion, but the lack of activity is not helping with my health/weight issues. Basically, I sit in the house like a fat lump and can't afford to go out and about nor do I have reason to do so.....This makes for a horrible emotional state. Which has led me to go internet crazy... on the nights that Forrest works, I spend at least six or more hours of his 8-12 hour shifts online. Mainly on Tumblr and Facebook. Which means, I sit around looking at things that I want but can't afford and admiring (and sometimes attempting communication with) people that are far pretty than me or seem to be cooler/have a better life. Tumblr famous people (if you have a tumblr, I'm sure you can think of a few such people but there are many).... I look at their awesome clothing and think how I wish I could look that fabulous every I wish I could even fit in such I can't afford to buy newer gothy clothing or even make most of it.... how I wish I knew how to put on makeup as well as they did or afford the products to do maybe if I could dye my hair that color (green is the current obsession for me) or get more tattoos and piercings how I could be as cool or pretty as this person or that person.... and that people would actually want to talk to me. I have no desire to become one of the Goth Tumblr Elite by any means (!!) but it would be nice if people actually gave two shits about talking to me...or even responding to my attempts to be friendly. There have been a few nice people who actually bother to talk to me...but I'm not edgy or self-absorbed enough for the rest as it seems. But this is besides the point... Let me come back around to say again that I compare myself to these Super Goths and don't feel like I measure up. I tell myself every night that I need to be thinner, edgier, and have an inexhaustible budget for clothing, accessories, and tattoos.... rather than my broke, suddenly chubby, average self. I will never be good enough until I can be THAT girl....

Along with the other stresses in my life, I have worked myself into an unbearable depression over my appearance and crap life (even though I have it easy compared to much of the world - don't get me wrong, I do realize that!)....and every few days I have an emotional therapy session with myself. I grab a good book, a delightfully scented candle, make some bath salts and camp out in the tub (are you beginning to notice a pattern with me regarding bath-time?)... I lay there and try to reason with myself. And this is the conclusion that I come to.... I will NEVER be THAT girl. And as depressing  as that sounds, I am about to explain to you that there is hope to be found in that statement. Make it your personal mantra, ladies (and gents)!  Let me make some points and then expound on each thought...

  1. Enough is never going to be enough.
  2. The people I compare myself to...are simply people. 
  3. I need to love myself...but making improvements where needed is still healthy.
(1) There will always be someone out there prettier, edgier, more popular, better traveled, smarter, gothier (lots of those, it seems), richer, more talented, thinner....etc... Always. There will always be someone better. I will always feel the need to make myself better....and you probably will too! So even if someone else thinks you're THAT girl, you never truly will be. And if you think you are, everyone else secretly thinks you are an insufferable narcissist! That is the hard, but freeing, truth of it ;)

(2) We make these people out to be super-people or celebrities with amazing lives that we could never hope to lead. The actual rich and famous of the world may have such luxuries... but the tumblr elite do not! (Nor the Facebook, blogspot, deviantArt, etc) In most cases, these people are normal folks with normal insecurities....and those insecurities or in some instances, delusions of grandeur, have led them to spend the majority of their lives sitting in front of a computer uploading countless (almost professionally photoshopped at this point in the game) pictures of themselves and working around the clock to set up this illusion of glamour. They WANT you to believe that they are something to be envied or strived-for though the thought of someone copying them is terrifying (as will be demonstrated if you watch them long enough)...they want you to think that they are the expert, the extreme and that they live a life of artistic/poetic luxury. When the awful truth is, they have wasted much of their life. This very post may cause some anger if anyone bothers to read to this point....but its important to let that sink into your head because once you do, you can test it for yourself and know it to be correct. Now.... Do not misunderstand what I said to be hatred towards the elite.... I don't hate them. I just have to remind myself on a regular basis that they are indeed human. And I still admire many of them for their unique style and interests... I am a firm believer in "Don't Hate, Appreciate".....when I see a gorgeous woman or someone who with great hair/style, I tell them! I don't sit there and fume, trying to pick them apart to find their flaws and make myself feel better and I don't try to bash them.... I admire openly, either to them personally or to others. I just think that its very important not to put people too high on a pedestal or to allow them to make you feel like shit...which some will do, whether that is their intent or no. Just like any person, a compliment from you MAY make their day (unless they are a narcissistic arse-hole, in which case you shouldn't bother further contact/compliments as they are undeserving) and they probably spend much of their time comparing THEMSELVES to others (maybe even YOU!), thinking that THEY aren't good enough.

(3) There is nothing wrong with not being able to achieve your own ideal of perfection..... because there is always room for improvement in life. Keep striving to be better! But be healthy about it (I am talking to myself here as much as I am to you readers....I am very unhealthy when it comes to how I see myself).... Love yourself. Accept that while you may not be the best, you are still a person of worth! Find things about yourself that are pretty or cool. I'm sure there are at least a few that come to mind! Spend time loving yourself....and less comparing yourself to others or putting yourself down! If that means spending less time on tumblr or around people that make you feel insecure, do it! 

I know that lately I just feel like shit 24/7....I feel like the monster who ate the tiny girl that I used to be only a year ago..... its horrible. And no matter what I do, I can't shake that image. But I know that it is temporary...because I am willing and have been doing what it takes (and will continue to do so) to lose weight and feel better.... I am dieting and exercising (and about to look into metabolism shots) in order to lose this weight....I am looking for a job so that I can take care of myself and still afford the occasional fashion must-have.... I am learning to sew and do other crafty things so that I am able to not only make money, but have stylish things that are unique to me! What do you do to improve yourself? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others or do others treat you like THAT girl? Feel free to discuss anything on the subject....just keep it polite <3