Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reader Question: Goth Birthday Presents

Dear Mary Rose, My birthday is coming up in 8 days  (I'm turning 13) and I don't know what I want....Help!!!I was hoping you could help me.Anyways, I'm looking for gothy essentials, mostly things that don't scream Goth but are because my parents think it's a phase and will not get me it. They think the Goth subculture is associated with depression due to a study from one of the news channels we watch. I want to prove them wrong about it since I have been involved a little since I was 7 but mainstream got in the way. I have been Goth for six months and hope to stay so for a long time. 
Please help me,*Leah.

Hi Leah

I was wondering when that study would start to show up again in my reader mail, and you're not alone in parents misunderstanding the study. For what it's worth, I wrote an article not long ago, a letter to parents like yours regarding that study, that you might want to have a read over and then forward to them, if you like. 

However, if you feel it's best not to directly challenge them (and I don't fault you for that at all) there are definitely some gothy essentials you can ask for that won't scream goth to your parents or raise too much suspicion. 

First things first, clothing. Now, what you want to wear is entirely up to you and will depend on your personal tastes, your climate, and your restrictions. If you can't wear a full-goth look yet, that's okay. Build up a wardrobe of Goth staples that can work inside and outside a Gothy look: black trousers or skirts, black flats or boots, black button-up blouses, black jackets, black scarves/gloves/bags. If your parents would find all-black suspicious, look for alternatives in other tones also worn by Goths, such as red and purple. Don't worry a lot about buying from goth-specific stores or things that have lots of Goth motifs on them. You want just the basics for now, and many of your local stores (I'm sure) will have essentials in neutral black. The added Goth fripperies can come later when you have more flexibility. If you need more advice about building a Goth wardrobe from scratch, check out my blog post here about that.

If you ask for DIY supplies, you'd be surprised what kinds of Goth clothing and decor you can pull together. Learning a new skill like sewing, knitting, or painting which can later be applied to your Goth wardrobe when you have a bit more freedom and flexibility. What supplies you could ask for will depend on what craft you choose, but paint brushes and paint, a sewing or embroidery kit, or knitting needles probably won't raise a lot of suspicions. 

I don't know where you live in the world, but Halloween is just around the corner and many stores are full of decor and craft items that would be perfect for Goths. Consider asking your parents to help you put together a Halloween party. If you spin the theme as "elegant" and choose a lot of black, white, red, and purple accessories, you might be able to salvage some of them for your room decor after the party. Here's another guide of mine for deciding what Halloween decorations are worth it for year-round Gothic design.

Books would be another great way to add a bit of Goth to your life without loudly announcing it to your parents. Authors like Neil Gaiman write fantastic spooky YA fiction, but there are Gothic classics like the works of Bram Stoker, Poe, Mary Shelley, and the like which you might enjoy. Depending on where you are, you may wish to get an e-reader which has the added benefit of not showing your parents what you are reading (and many of the classics can be found for free.) If not, and if your parents (or other family members) are the giftcard giving type, ask for gift cards to your local bookstores or Amazon so you can have a browse and see what you can find. 

I hope that was helpful!

Readers, what would you suggest Leah ask for to not disturb her parents? 


  1. I love your sound advice, it is always so well written. I love reading these emails you get from kids too, they are so cute! It is nice that you are able to do these things for them!

  2. I agree with everything you've said here, the crafting route is a great route to take. Also, giftcards would be a good solution, you can buy whatever you want with those! And I don't see why any parent would begrudge buying books for their kids :)

  3. Some kind of plain, black canvas bag is always nice to have, and quite easy to DIY. You can stick with a basic tote, or go with something like a military surplus bag. Itunes giftcards might also be a good idea for adding some gothy music to your library.

  4. Hi Mary! I'm Elena, the girl who accosted you in Salem on Saturday. I'm sorry for embarrassing you in front of your friends. Do you mind if I post the picture your friend took of us on my Facebook, and link back to your blog? If not, that's cool! My email is
    Thanks so much!

  5. Your post is interesting. Hope you have more useful posts like this