Saturday, August 29, 2015

Goth Teens and Depression: An Open Letter to Parents



To the parents of Goth teenagers,

Hello, my name is Mary Rose. I'm a blogger here at The Everyday Goth and I discuss fashion, decor, music, literature, the social scene, and other facets of the Goth subculture. I'm a twenty-one year old student, employee, daughter, and sibling who has been in the Goth subculture for almost a decade now, and I want to talk to you about your Goth child.

The reason you're here, my guess being, is because of an article discussing the recent findings of the Lancet. For those of you not in the know, the British academic journal The Lancet published a study which reported that out of about 3,000 teenagers who were studied at both ages 15 and 18, those who identified with the label "Goth" in their self-reported questionnaires were more likely to be depressed at 15 and self-harm at 18 than their peers who chose other labels, including "chavs," "populars," "sporty," and others.

Of course, this kind of study prompts all kinds of ill-informed, scare-mongering articles from various news publications. I myself was invited onto BBC World Service radio to discuss the study and while I stand by the points I made, I thought I would reiterate them for those of you who weren't listening to the radio at six in the morning GMT.

The moment I heard about this article I knew what was going to happen. Firstly, I was going to get an e-mail from a young goth reader saying "I'm a Goth and my parents think I'm depressed so they're not letting me be a Goth anymore, but I'm not depressed. What do I do?" Or, even worse, "I'm a Goth and I do have depression but my parents are blaming my depression on being a Goth, so they're not letting me be a Goth but my depression is still going untreated. What do I do?"

You can imagine my distress with these kinds of e-mails. There's only so much I can suggest that these young Goths do. So, I wanted to write this letter to parents of Goth teenagers directly.

First and foremost, let's talk about what Goth is and is not. Goth is a subculture which came out of the United Kingdom in the 1980's as an offshoot of the dwindling punk movement. Goths are characterized by an interest in Goth music, darker fashion and aesthetic choices, and an appreciation for the darker side of beauty. You might recognize famous Goths in the media, such as the character Abby Scuito from the investigative television show NCIS, but many shows, especially those geared at kids and teenagers, have some kind of alternative, Gothy character. Goths come in all races, from all countries, and are of all ages (yes, even career-holding adults!)

The music that started it all might already be familiar to you, depending on your age. Famous groups include The Cure (with their famous 'Friday I'm in Love') and Depeche Mode (which British football fans will know from the Celtics anthem, 'Just Can't Get Enough') but there are, of course, more obscure groups as well. What defines Goth music is a complicated question and there is a lot of overlap in genres. Generally speaking, the genre involves a lot of emotional rawness in the lyrics, a certain reliance on 80's synthesizes, and a minor key.

You can look up "what is goth" articles and videos from many different Goths online and every one that I've found agrees with me on this next point: Goth does not endorse or encourage depression and destructive behaviors including self-harm, violence, or drug abuse. This stereotype is perpetuated by a scaremongering media with their own agendas, but it is just a stereotype.

Goths can and do lead normal, productive, happy lives. We go to school (and many of us do quite well,) we get married, we have carriers, we have kids, we go to the grocery store, we go to church, we vote. We're normal people. Part of the reason I chose the moniker "The Everyday Goth" was to make the point that I'm a Goth and a normal human being. A student, an employee, a daughter, a friend.

So, I would ask that concerned parents of Goth teenagers not make assumptions about your child's mental health just because of this study.

Mental health stigma has lead to a lot of misconceptions about depression, that it's 'just' being sad all the time, or that one can just 'snap out of it.' If you'd like to learn more about depression, I'd recommend listening to this lecture by Andrew Solomon, 'Depression, the Secret We Share' and doing your own reading to help explain what depression is, where it comes from (hint: not wearing all black and listening to Bauhaus), and what can be done about it.

The Lancet study does not show that a teenager will become depressed just because they become a Goth. There are many other ways that this kind of correlation can come about, including that teenagers who are already depressed join the subculture in search of community and emotional support.

You see, the Goth subculture is full of people who have considered themselves "alternative" to the norm so we find comfort in each other--we are self-proclaimed freaks, weirdos, geeks, and creeps. We know what it's like to have people at school or at the office, or even just on the street, make rude comments about our appearances. There's a collective understanding of what it's like to be mocked for being different. The music we listen to is emotionally raw and shows an understanding of the darker side of life, so the subculture tends to have a very emotionally open atmosphere. In Goth, it's okay to admit you've had a bad day, or want to vent, and there's a great support network there for you whether you be venting on online communities like Tumblr or while sharing poetry with your friends in real life.

But, that being said, the media stereotype has caused a lot of negativity towards Goths which has some unpleasant side effects. Certain depressive conditions and self-harm can be caused (or at least exacerbated) by bullying, and Goth teenagers are often bullied more than their "popular" or "sporty," classmates. Many parents I know are terrified that their child will be bullied because they're a Goth. That's completely understandable, there are only so many things you can do when you send your child to school or camp or a youth program where kids are merciless and picky. However, if you try to stamp your child's Gothness out of them you are just going to become another bullying, oppressive force in your child's life. That's not a way to cultivate a good relationship with your child even if you have their best interests at heart.

Instead? Let your child know that you are on their side. Defend them if another relative or one of your friends makes a negative comment about their appearance. Stand up for your child and be clear that you support them. Don't make dismissive comments about it being a 'phase.' If you would like, do some reading on your own and study up on what Goth is. Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters and What Is Goth? by Aurelio Voltaire are great books on the subject.

All I'm asking really is that if, as a parent, you're concerned about the mental health of your child, listen to them and support them before jumping to conclusions drawn from this study. That is the only way to be sure that you're taking care of your young Goth's mental health.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at theeverydaygoth@yahoo.com and I'd be happy to discuss your child or your concerns about the Goth subculture.

Best,

Mary Rose,
The Everyday Goth

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Karma Se7en (2.0)

Back in July I reviewed jewelry from the website Karma Se7en (it gets easier the more times you type it, I promise) and loved it so much that when they offered me more jewelry to try out I was thrilled at the prospect. This time I went for more faux piercing jewelry because the corporate world is taunting me with restrictive dress and piercing codes and also one piece from their new line.



As you can read in my last review, I love the packaging for Karma Se7en. Love to death. The purple boxes are pretty, but the small screw-top boxes are what make it for me. It's just so convenient to be able to toss larger packaging and keep around these little containers to make sure all your jewelry stays where it is supposed to be.



The first item I got is this Single Point Sterling Silver Clip-On Helix Cuff. Now, I know I have fairly thin ears so I wasn't surprised that this piece had a bit of trouble staying on, but the silver was soft enough for me to tighten slightly without any extra damage. I love this piece, it doesn't stick out or anything, it's just a nice subtle addition for my ear jewelry. 


Next up was this more modern and subtle looking Clip On Ear Cuff with Cut Out Squares. This one stayed on with no trouble as it has a slightly narrow opening and I liked that it can be worn on any part of the helix of your ear, from the front all the way down to just above your lobe for a little bit of sparkle. 



Lastly for the clip-on helix jewelry is this Triple Point Sterling Silver Clip On Helix Ear Cuff. (I know it looks oddly purple but it's just reflecting some of the boxes I had stacked on my table, it really is a true silver color.) Unlike the smaller bands, this one can really only go on the outer Helix. I found that I had to adjust it slightly so that the point at the end didn't stick out weirdly on my ear, but after that I thought it was super cute.  

Karma Se7en asked me if I wanted to review anything from their new Crystal Evolution line and I jumped at the change to review this Black Spider Belly Bar by Crystal Evolution and add to my arsenal of naval jewelry. But first I have to talk about the packaging.

Because this isn't produced by Karma Se7en directly, the packaging is different. The outer box is pretty ordinary and not very sturdy (I was trying to be careful when opening but managed to rip it anyway.)

However, on the inside is this little plastic frame. Between the front and the back of the frame there is a thin plastic film trapping the jewelry and keeping it suspended between them. You can slide the frame bottom off, open the frame and take the jewelry out. Then, when you're done with it you can replace the jewelry in between the film, slide the bottom back in place and display the jewelry.


IS THIS NOT SO COOL???

The actual jewelry is this beautiful spider naval piece. The body of the spider is a Swarovski crystal and, if you're never seen one of these before, I highly recommend going somewhere to see one. These things catch the light and glitter like no other faux jewel I've seen and this piece is no exception. Especially while keeping this piece in the frame, when I walk by it catches the light beautifully. I'm in love. The piece is also very sturdy and hasn't tarnished yet.

Once again, Karma Se7en is a Buy One, Get One Free store which is a fantastic deal for really nice jewelry. I really do recommend them for body jewelry, so be sure to check them out! Thank you again to Karma Se7en for sending me these.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#WashiWednesday - Gothy Craft Essential

When I was investigating Michaels Halloween stock I had a few things in mind that I wanted. The first was decor, which I found right away. The second was stickers, which took a bit of hunting to find some that I liked. The last was washi tape, which I didn't find on my first two trips and was starting to lose hope in but finally found a good supply of when I went on Sunday.



Washi tape is decorative paper tape which comes in all kinds of amazing patterns and colors, from lettering to stripes to flowers to cats to skulls. The glue isn't especially strong until it dries so it's easy to move around until you're satisfied with placement so you don't tear whatever you're applying it to.

Some things you can do with washi:

  • Add a decorative seal to envelopes
  • Use in scrapbooking
  • Make a decorative frame for art on your wall
  • Decorate decor or furniture
  • Label your electronic cables
  • Decorate a bookmark
  • Decorate your planner or other school supplies
  • Make toothpick flags to decorate baked goods or drinks
But really the opportunities are endless. I can't tell you the number of times I've looked at something plain in my life and thought 'you know what would improve this? Washi."

Since there aren't a lot of stores that sell goth-appropriate washi all year around I was very excited to pick up some Halloween patterns at Michaels that I could use all year.

My current favorites are these black and white colors. All of them except for the large black and white diagonal stripe are from Michaels. My favorite is that narrow black and white bat variety, which came packaged with a black and white spider web washi pictured above for $4.


My other favorite washi currently are my neutrals. Not a lot of people seem to use true neutral washi, which is I suppose understandable since people want their crafts and decor to be bright and fun and pretty, but I find myself using these a lot. These are a mix from Amazon (the four in the middle) and Michaels (the two on the ends.)


Here's a better picture of my favorite so far, this script washi from Michaels.



Be sure to follow me on Instagram @theeverydaygoth to see more Gothy crafting supply hauls, planner spreads, plus some selfies, cat pictures, and whatever else comes to mind.

What's your favorite craft supply?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Birthday Outfit Post

Today it's my 21st birthday! Woah, over two decades of life. When did that happen?



 I'm wearing some old favorites, my Fanplusfriend velvet oversight and ruffled undershirt and a black sweater. You can't see my bat shoes but I'm wearing them when I go out today. Necklace is from Torrid and bat choker was a gift. Septum piece is from my last review for Karma Se7en.

I hope you're all having a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Evil Supply Co. Mister Ghost Parcel - August

Evil Supply Co.'s monthly stationary package, the full title of which I've been informed is actually Mister Ghost's Highly Enviable Monthly Parcel of Simple Yet Amazing Wonderments, just released its August installment. I reviewed their July parcel last month and thought it was super cute, so I was excited to see what this month brought. The theme for it is Netherworld Post Office, which sounded awesome and useful for those of us who love to write physical letters and keep penpals. Followers of my Twitter will know that I was distressed when my parcel was delayed by the post, but it's here now! So here's what I got:


The first thing I pulled out were these adorable Ghost-A-Gram stationary cards with plain envelopes. I love Evil Supply Co.'s designs in part because of how intricate they are, and the details on this are really cute. I can't wait to send one of these around at Halloween time, I already know who the lucky recipient is going to be.

Next were these Ghost-A-Grams, this time in a light blue with smaller ghosts, bats, and swirls. have I mentioned that I love these signature swirls all over everything? Well, I do. This one is subtler but no less spooky and it's nice to have different designs of similar products so you have a bit of variety when choosing what to send. 


Next up is this large art print and I was thrilled to get this. I'm still looking for a frame for it now and then it's going to go on my desk where I write my penpal letters. What a charming little dude. 

Followers of my Instagram will know that I've developed somewhat of a fascination with stickers so when I found some in my Mister Ghost parcel I was so excited. They're made of a sturdy, thicker vinyl-like material and have three designs: a black skull bird with a letter, a monster (???) package, and a Netherworld Post Office sticker, all brightly colored. While Mister Ghost items are exclusive to the subscription, I want about fifty of these last stickers for sealing envelopes with so maybe if we cross our fingers and call on a ghost they'll come back someday. 




Next up are these two notebooks which are also done in classic and lovely Evil Supply Co. style in lime green to match the green Ghost-A-Grams above. I thought the "Addresses and Notes" would be styled like a traditional address book but the inside pages are blank so you can really decide however you want to keep track of your addresses. The "Letter in a Notebook" one is also pretty interesting if you like to write longer letters or add drawings or such, and it's cool to see ESC adding variation to the pocket notebooks. 


And another thing I want in bulk: the entire Mister Ghost parcel comes in these screen-printed folders that I love. Like, really love. Like, want an entire office full of different designs and patterns. Last month's parcel had a lovely black and silver witch/scientist print whereas this week has the Netherworld Post Office logo and swirls and I've kept the ones I got in past Evil Supply Co. orders because they're so useful. I use these to organize my stationary and to carry school papers with me, they're sturdy and pretty and I love them.



In summary, I love this parcel possibly even more than last month's. The colors are pretty and refreshing, I loved the designs, and there's nothing in here that I was at a loss for how to use. I think the theme of Netherworld Post Office is a great fit for Evil Supply Co. and gave us some really useful and cool stationary bits to use and, well, stickers are the bomb dot com. I love Mister Ghost. 

If you want to get your own Evil Supply Co. parcel, the next theme is 'Graveyard Secrets' and it ships in early September. I love these packages and I think they're a great way to add a bit of spooky and variety to your stationary and, let's be real, life in general. Buy yours on the Evil Supply Co. website here!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Going Back to School Goth

So, you've spent the summer away from school reading up on all things Goth. You've picked up some books about the subculture, you've memorized the Wikipedia page. Perhaps you've followed my advice for back-to-school Goth fashion or for building a Goth wardrobe from scratch. You've spoken to your parents, for better or for ill. But now what remains is going back to school and dealing with everyone who may or may not start mocking you for your new-found dark heart. What do you do?



First things first, decide who is important to you. Does it really matter that a gaggle of people you'll never see again after high school called you Morticia as an insult or ask who died? I promise you, it doesn't. Accept that some people are just going to be rude no matter what and ignore them as best you can. You might find that they parrot all kinds of misconceptions about Goths which you might wish to dispel, but it's not worth it for every passerby. You'll lose your voice before it penetrates their thick skull.

The build up to "what are my friends going to think" is the thing I know a lot of babybats are worried about. Your friends may or may not find this whole Goth thing weird. If they're totally accepting and don't mind at all, I'm very happy for you. You're lucky and those are some good friends you have there. You might even be lucky enough to have other Goth friends at school, or friends that (now that they've seen you start to dress how you like) will also come out of their shell. However, not everyone is so lucky.

If one of your friends decides for whatever reason not to support you or remain your friend now that you're dressing Goth, this can be very painful. However, as I'm fond of saying, a friendship that ends over something this trivial isn't a friendship that you should be bothering with. Of course it's not going to be easy if you share any kind of history, but keep your spirits up and I promise it will get easier. You can try to explain what Goth is, expel the rumors and that, but after a while you're going to have to let friendships go that don't better your life.

Know who your allies are. If the rude comments of other people start to go into the bullying territory, you may wish to seek the help of either your school counselor or a trusted teacher. Knowing who the people are in the school who will take your complaints seriously and building up a healthy relationship with them can make some of the issues easier to manage. Remember: it's not weakness to need help.

Readers, what advice do you have for Babybats who are going back to school Goth for the first time?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fashion Appreciation: Black and Gold

Recently I wrote about incorporating black and gold into one's home decor and, I have to say, the color combination has been growing on me. I think gold pops against black really well, flatters a lot of skin tones, and carries occult, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and other themes really well. So, here's some sets I put together that show off a variety of styles of Goth look with gold.


Casualties


Rule of Three


Black and Gold

Watcher

Black Gold Gothic

Black Gold Men


Black gold Finale

Do you wear gold jewelry or, like me, do you have reservations of anything outside the silver/pewter/white gold spectrum? What style rules have you set yourself in the past that you no longer hold yourself to?