Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reader Mail: Advice for Goth Kids?


When did you first become a Goth? I always had weird interests as a kid but I can't say that I really got interested in the subculture until my early teens. The reason I ask is that I hadn't really given thought to people who enter the subculture at a younger age, at least until I got this e-mail from Katy:

Hi, my name is Katy. Im 10 years old. I want to be goth but without parents noticing. Any tips?
-Katy Power

The first piece of advice that I would offer is not to dramatically announce that you're becoming a Goth. Don't worry about the label of Goth. It's not what's important. The label Goth might either make your parents think that you're a drug-using satanist (not good) or they might tease you about it being a phase. So, don't even bother! Just like what you like. Labels can come later.

You might not be able to wear a lot of Goth clothing without tipping your parents off, but surely you can ask for more black clothes or to wear stripey tights or something like that without them worrying about it. Remember that Goth isn't just about what you wear though and as you get older you can add skull hair clips, cool pins and badges, and that kind of thing.

A lot of Goth "stuff" is pretty young-people appropriate. Most of Tim Burton's works are made for all audiences, Monster High dolls are popular among people of all ages, and Halloween is THE kid's holiday (at least around where I am!) Lots of cartoons have cool Goth characters that you can get into. I don't think enjoying these things would cause your parents to raise their eyebrows at you.

I would say that I don't think you should be joining too many online Goth communities. Most of them have age ranges to take into consideration anyway but I know everyone fakes their ages online--but from me to you, please don't. It definitely puts you at risk for bullies, manipulative people, or other people saying you're not "goth enough." Don't worry about it, just enjoy having fun as a Goth on your own terms.

As always, remember that being the Most Goth isn't really the most important thing. Go outside and have fun, read a lot of good books, make friends you can laugh with, try to keep up with school. I'm not going to say "goth doesn't matter," but it's easy to lose your own identity when just starting out.

Readers, what advice would you offer to a younger-than-teenage Goth?

12 comments:

  1. I'm not "Goth" but I have affinity with the Goth subculture and as far as I can remember I have always loved Halloween, skulls, the Adams family, the Goosebump books...and my parents never worried about it.
    Growing up as a young adult (I was more dressed hippie/grunge than "alternative" as a teen), they let me wear black, fishnet mittens, Dr Martens, striped tights and spiky chockers whilst I was still living in their house. So I'd say take it one step at a time, start with "mainstream" goth items and as you get older assert your gothiness. :)

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  2. I'm afraid that I had so much to say as a response that I wrote a quick post instead of crowding your comment section. Here is my post url: http://goth-gardening.blogspot.com/2016/01/gothy-reads-for-young-readers.html

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  3. I absolutely agree with you. No labelling, just be who you are. My son is in the same age and collect morbid things and like unhappy endings, but his favourite colour is neon yellow. Weird colour to wear when you don't wan't to stick out and have an introvert mind...I hope that your parents let you be yourself in any aspect.

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  4. I've noticed at my work that combat boots and faux leather jackets are among popular items in the girl's section right now. Could be a good way to add a little more goth flair to a wardrobe without seeming too suspicious to your parents.

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  5. I've found that a "safe" descriptor for a lot of popular Goth things (especially those more geared toward tweens and teens) is spooky. Spooky works because it encompasses things like Tim Burton, Monster High, and Skeleanimals, but doesn't carry the connotation that Goth does. My mom was terrified of the word Goth, but if I used phrases like "I love ____! It's so cute and spooky!" She was much more willing to compromise with me; I feel that planting the seeds of my "spooky" nature made her much more open to the idea of me being a Goth now that I am an adult.

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  6. I've found that a "safe" descriptor for a lot of popular Goth things (especially those more geared toward tweens and teens) is spooky. Spooky works because it encompasses things like Tim Burton, Monster High, and Skeleanimals, but doesn't carry the connotation that Goth does. My mom was terrified of the word Goth, but if I used phrases like "I love ____! It's so cute and spooky!" She was much more willing to compromise with me; I feel that planting the seeds of my "spooky" nature made her much more open to the idea of me being a Goth now that I am an adult.

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  7. Am I the only one weirded out by this? They're ten. Get offline and be a kid.

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  8. I wasn't calling myself Goth back when I was 10, but I certainly liked a lot of "spooky" things. As much as I love the Goth subculture, a lot of it isn't age-appropriate for a 10 year old, but there are spooky and Gothically-inclined stuff that IS, as numerous commenters here have mentioned. She should just be herself, enjoy what she likes for a few years without sticking a label on it. As she gets older she can get into the subculture fully, but a subculture that's pretty much built around morbidity (whether musical or more broadly cultural) and has a lot of sexual undertones is probably not appropriate for a kid, and even teens should probably avoid the overtly sexualised parts and the more violently horror-based parts until they're old enough. There's plenty of spooky age appropriate stuff, and not just in terms of entertainment; if she likes history, there's the Horrible Histories series of educational books on various periods of history that are aimed at kids, but go for a more irreverent and gruesome (but not too gruesome) take (I used to love them as a kid), and plenty of children's books on folk-lore, monsters, vampires, etc. that frame it not just as a story, but as parts of various cultures. Learning about things like castles, medieval times, the Victorian era, etc. is a good back-ground to Goth, and also as its educational, more likely to be parent-approved.

    Also, learn crafts when you're still a kid and can go to cheap/free crafting sessions! If your school puts on sewing lessons or that sort of thing, then ask to take advantage of them. It's really a far more expensive endeavour when you have to fund these things yourself, and customising things, making things, etc. is such an important part of being Goth.

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  9. When I was 12 I spent my pocket money on black hair dye, cheap black clothes & charity shop jewellery & stashed it under my bed for months. Then one day whilst my parents were out for the day I decided to go for it. When they returned my mam just looked at me and asked sarcastically '& what have you come as?' To which I replied 'this is me now mam' as if I knew exactly who I was at 12 lol! Luckily for me I had very liberal parents but it would have been very difficult had I not. I also think it helped that they didn't see a change in my personality. I didn't beome withdrawn or morose, my grades stayed up, I didn't get into trouble or anything, we remained very close and communicated well as a family. So they didn't have to worry about this 'goth' thing because I was still the same girl they knew I just happened to like black clothes & wearing jewellery that turned my skin green x

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  10. When I was 12 I spent my pocket money on black hair dye, cheap black clothes & charity shop jewellery & stashed it under my bed for months. Then one day whilst my parents were out for the day I decided to go for it. When they returned my mam just looked at me and asked sarcastically '& what have you come as?' To which I replied 'this is me now mam' as if I knew exactly who I was at 12 lol! Luckily for me I had very liberal parents but it would have been very difficult had I not. I also think it helped that they didn't see a change in my personality. I didn't beome withdrawn or morose, my grades stayed up, I didn't get into trouble or anything, we remained very close and communicated well as a family. So they didn't have to worry about this 'goth' thing because I was still the same girl they knew I just happened to like black clothes & wearing jewellery that turned my skin green x

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  11. Best advice I can give is to be yourself. Being Goth isn't about shoving it in other people's faces, it's about being true to yourself. However it's also important to recognise there is a time and place for things. As an older goth with a teenage daughter getting into the goth scene I recognise that there are times when you need to look and be "normal". This isn't a case of not being true as that's on the inside. It's also important to recognise that there are good and bad people in any large group. Tolerance towards others is one of the great things about goths in general. However don't be afraid to stay away from things which make you uncomfortable and don't be afraid to say no. Being a goth isn't different from being any other teenager. You still need to be aware of your own safety and learn to think for yourself, not feel pressured into things by peer pressure or the thought that "all goths are into X".

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  12. I decided Goth was for me at age 11. 18 years later, here I am. Still Goth.

    I can't give advice, though. My life has been up and down with it, and I didn't have a good time of it at the beginning. I can say I got into it with Anne Rice novels. I read Dracula locked in my mom's van and couldn't figure out why it was so "evil" to people. I thought it was because Harker was in the closet. LOL The minds of children!

    I wasn't about to get into the fashion until I could get the money. Even then, it's with my EBT. I don't listen to a lot of music that others consider Goth, because of my mental health. I just can't handle it and don't know why it's attractive.

    I agree with your advice, Mary. Avoid forums. I learned the hard way to do that at 13.

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