My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Friday, 14 October 2016

Dark Towers, Clouded Skies - Photographic Friday

Another Friday, another set of photographs. These are from the same day as the previous set, but of a different building. This is the Palace Hotel, and it is also on Ness Walk. It's got two big turrets on the front - a continuation of the bay windows and dormer windows into two 'towers'. It looks very grand, and the frontage is quite a mix of styles. It's a mixture of French chateaux details, Scottish Baronial and eclectic ornaments. The front has an arch over a balcony. 

As with all my architectural photography now, these are on my Tumblr account ::Architecturally Gothic:: - I also post up pictures there that I don't post here (otherwise my blog would include far too many buildings!) and I talk more about the architectural historical aspects of what I photograph. I also reblog photographers with similar architectural interests to me (and often a similar black-and-white dramatic style, just a lot better than mine!).  If you like that sort of thing, I suggest you follow my Tumblr. I'm studying architectural technology at university, and so a lot of my photography is related to that, plus historical architecture is something of a passion of mine, so my Tumblr updates more than my main blog. 

All of these photographs are for my college project, and are an attempt to capture the architectural character of the city centre and riverside area in pictures. I feel that Inverness is an underrated city, and this is partly because of a lot of mid 20thC developments that demolished lots of the old city and marred the overall character of the city - my project is a theoretical plan to address some of that. It's all academic, literally, and will never see fruition, but I like this project as an opportunity to show something of my vision in general, and my love for the city. Everyone in the class got the same brief and location, and I love this project. 

This last photograph was deliberately edited to be gloomy and dark. I quite like giving images that sense - I guess it reflects my general imagination, which is full of Gothic tales of the supernatural. The photographs I upload to ::Architecturally Gothic:: are not the only photographs of the city I took - there's quite a few full-colour images that a look a lot more bright and cheery, they just wouldn't be very suitable for either blog as both of which are about a certain Gothic atmosphere. My project booklet is a lot brighter than my blog; that wouldn't be suitable for the brief, or the nature of the project - Inverness has lots of stunning architecture that lends itself to spooky photographs, but it's not really a spooky city - it's one full of Victorian medieval-revivalism and red and yellow sandstone. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Gables, Clouds and Rainy Skies - Photographic Friday

Another instalment of 'Photographic Friday'. I haven't done these in a while, especially since I established my architectural photography blog on Tumblr - ::Architecturally Gothic::. If you like my photography work, I recommend looking at that. I'd like to get a few more followers, too! I've watermarked all of my architectural photography with that blog now - if it's going on Tumblr, it needs to be watermarked so attribution doesn't get lost if people reblog without source. 

Anyway, this is a set of photographs from over a week ago. I actually made myself ill by going out and photographing this set - or rather significantly accelerated the progress of a cold straight into the worst parts. I've ended up missing college and not really doing much for over a week, and I'm worried I will get behind. 

Columba hotel, named after the Saint. Dramatic skies. Photo by me.

This is one of a whole heap of photographs I took of Inverness for a university project, and the only day I had to go in take photographs happened to be one of frequent torrential downpours, and I got soaked (despite my umbrella and coat) and the following day felt like death, and have spent most of the following week ill in bed with some sort of bad cold, perhaps the flu. 

At least the Scottish Baronial gables are pretty. Note the stepped gables - these are called 'corbie-steps' or 'corble-steps' from the Scots word for crow; "corbie", or just 'crow-steps'. At some point I'm going to have to take a picture of some crows perched on them - there are enough crows about the place, but the seagulls keep chasing them off. 

Close up of Columba Hotel sign and gables and dormer. 

In a break from the rain the clouds were really rather snazzy. Again, the gables of the Columba Hotel (and a cute wee dormer window). Scottish Baronial architecture dominates Ness Walk, with the all narrow windows, many gables (and roof goes up to the wall and stops, instead of overhangs past it. This is very common with Scottish roofs. There's often a sort of hidden lead gutter called a raggle, behind the wall, otherwise water would get in.) These photos are for a college project. I’m doing an analysis of the current architectural context for a site, so I pretty much photographed the entire area around it…
Gables all in a row. Photograph by the HouseCat
Another photograph from Ness Walk. Many of Ness Walk’s gables all in a row, against the clearing clouds. It did rain again after that, but at least the weather was dry for a moment. The old parts of Inverness are beautiful and full of character - it’s a shame they demolished so much of it between the 1950′s and ‘70s and replaced a lot of it with ugly box buildings. A lot of Inverness’ older districts make me think of a scaled-down Edinburgh. There's even a prominent city-centre castle on a hill!

Gothic windows. Photograph by the HouseCat 

Gothic Revival apartments/offices/accommodation (I can’t remember which portions of this building are what), opposite the Cathedral, in Inverness. I took this photo because of the Gothic Revival details on an otherwise very Scottish Baronial building - bridging the Scottish Baronial style of most of Ness Walk (and the Castle across the river) and the Gothic Revival style of the (perpetually unfinished) cathedral.

Here's another combination of Gothic Revival and Scottish Baronial. I think the two columns either side of the gable might be chimney-pots, either that or they are purely decorative - I'm not actually sure! The blind round 'window' in the centre is a cinquefoil Gothic tracery, and the tops of the windows have been pointed to Gothic arches, but still retain the overall 'vertical rectangle' feel of Scottish Baronial windows. The crow-steps are capped wit fancy stone, but are still very much crow-steps. It's a well executed hybridisation of what in this case are two medieval-revival styles. I think this particular building is either offices or a hotel. 

Hopefully these pictures have been enjoyable. I think my architectural photography is certainly improving, and I really must update my Tumblr with more photography. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Review - Lilith Skirt by Necessary Evil from Kate's Clothing

Edit: This post is delayed because I wanted to put it out after a linked unboxing video, but I don't have iMovie anymore, and I'm still getting used to how to edit videos, so the unboxing I've filmed will be uploaded to YouTube AFTER this. 

::Kate's Clothing:: got in contact with me to do this sponsored post, offering to send me an item to review. As you know from my past reviews, I review things honestly, and while getting free stuff is definitely cool, I will not let that cloud me form being honest about the quality of something. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that much with this, because this skirt is pretty darn nifty.

I was given the option of picking anything from Necessary Evil's latest range - most of it was too minimalistic and 'Nu-Goth' in styling for my personal tastes (I have nothing against that style, it just isn't my personal thing; I like a little more detailing - if you like Nu-Goth, they've got some great things in stock), but this ::Lilith skirt:: with its four tiers of ruffles at the bottom caught my eye as suitable for my Romantic Goth style. I saw it as an excellent skirt for layering, which as the photos show, is definitely true. It has an excellent balance of cling and swooshiness - very good for showing off curves and for achieving that vampy silhouette. 

One hat-point short of a cliche. Photo by Raven
The thing that got me most excited about this skirt is that it is actually long enough on me. I am pretty tall, as many of you will already know, and usually struggle to find skirts that are a reasonable length on me. Skirts have to be at least 40 inches to be floor-length on me - at 40 inches I can wear a skirt riding just above my hips and have it sweep the floor, but I prefer a good few inches above that to have a skirt worn at my waist. This skirt is 43 inches long, and I bought it in a UK size 14 (US 10) because I've gone up a wee bit from a size 12(US 8), and I'd rather have a loose size 14 than a size 12 that's a wee bit tight - plus, after I loose more weight, I can always have a larger size taken in. I'm very happy to have a skirt where I love the aesthetics and it actually is long enough for me! There are so many skirts out there which I think look beautiful... on someone 6 inches or more shorter than me. 

Hat adjustment pose! Photo by Raven

The construction of the skirt seems sturdy, but the fabric is thin, and I imagine it wouldn't be that hard to put a stiletto heel through it if you stood on the hem, however that is a matter of taking care, rather than a fault in the skirt. I've not had it long yet, so I cannot say yet as to how long it will last me.

It is made of a synthetic mesh material, and it is rather sheer - I certainly wouldn't wear it without something opaque underneath (in the photos I am wearing opaque black tights and a black tunic underneath, the black tunic reaching down to bellow my butt, and the tights being very thoroughly opaque) or over it (I am also wearing a "butt cape" or reverse apron - this is an over-skirt that's actually a modified semi-sheer skirt, split down a seam and finished with velvet ribbon for ties) to preserve my modesty. It was quite dingy for the photo-shoot, too. If I were to wear it out and about, I would probably wear it over opaque leggings or under my favourite velvet long-at-the-back, short-at-the-front skirt. Other people may be more comfortable wearing something that sheer and thus may want to wear it just as a skirt, but I am definitely happier covering up. 

More hat adjustment poses... Photo by Raven
Altogether I'm very, VERY happy with the skirt. I was also happy with Kate's Clothing - not just for sending me free stuff, but because when I enquired about the length of the skirt they gave me the measurements and my interactions whenever I have ordered from them (which I've done several times) have always been very pleasant, and I've been shopping with them much longer than I've been affiliated. I don't often buy new clothes at all (for several reason, some of which financial, some of which ecological), but when I do, I see Kate's Clothing as pretty reliable online retailer. My only suggestion would be that if possible it would be better to list more detailed measurements as sizing on the website itself.  

Outfit I am wearing in the photos:
Hat - H&M, bought new several years ago. (I'm no longer supporting H&M as a retailer).
Choker - 'Eretica' choker by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Necklace - 'Dragon Heart' pendant by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Cropped top - Raven; secondhand on eBay (It's got velvet, lace-up details up the front and drippy sleeves - perfect over-the-top Romantic Goth!)
Corset - Burleska; secondhand on eBay
Belt - secondhand on eBay
Overskirt - hand-made, fabric re-claimed from a skirt secondhand on eBay
Skirt: Necessary Evil; sponsorship gift from Kate's Clothing
Shoes (not visible;  coffin-buckle pikes) - Fantasy Shoes; secondhand on eBay

I would have normally worn lace gloves, but I took them off because otherwise my hands would have been just too dark in the photographs to really show up. I think the local woodland has become the new 'meadow' default photography location since I moved away from the meadow (I miss that meadow). Photographs are by my very talented partner, Raven, and are NOT to be reproduced without permission. 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Goth, Individualism and Conformity - 5 Years Later

Eight years ago I wrote ::this:: article, then re-posted it in 2011, five years ago, on conformity in the Goth subculture - and while I still agree with the main gist of it - that just because we don't want to conform to mainstream society, it does not mean that we are against societies in general or against having our own norms - there are quite a few things upon which my perspective has changed over time, and some things I feel I should have addressed and didn't. In 2012 I wrote ::this:: both echoing these themes of conformity vs. individuality, and also specifically targeting the accusation or assumption that Goth is 'middle-class rebellion'. This article was inspired by listening to the September edition of Cemetery Confessions, which discusses in depth the seeming paradox between individuality and conformity within the subculture, and which can be listened to ::here::.

Firstly, I still think that the notion of Goths being failed non-conformists because while we sometimes vocally distance ourselves from mainstream culture, we still have norms within our own culture is a flawed notion - I've never felt that Goth has been about pure individualism, and that it has always been about a group of people with shared interests, primarily musically and in terms of an aesthetic and a mindset that is both cynical and Romantic in terms and which finds beauty and interest in darker and more morbid themes. I still think that just because we don't want to participate in mainstream pop culture and dislike any form of mindless consumerism, it doesn't mean that we disagree with the notions of cultures and sharing interests with others, in general. We often find that mainstream society devalues the things we like, and often devalues us for liking them, and that we also don't have much interest in many mainstream things, but this is just why we do something different from the mainstream. However, it is not that Goths can't like the odd bit of popular culture too! Also, some things many Goths like, such as The Addams Family or Tim Burton's better films, are part of popular culture as well as Goth culture, so there is no clear separation. 

(I've been a geek and a nerd since I was a child, and a lot of what I like were considered fringe interests 20+ years ago, but have now become mainstream - especially in terms of science fiction and fantasy franchises; it's no longer weird and uncool to like something like Star Trek, and Game of Thrones is thoroughly mainstream! I still like these things, and I'm not going to suddenly stop liking them because they gained mainstream acceptance and popularity.

Goth does not define itself as the antithesis to something; we don't exist in opposition to the mainstream, we exist alongside it, and to some degree independent of it, but we're not there to simply oppose whatever is currently popular in some sort of contrarian stab at rebelliousness. We like what we like, regardless of whether or not its popular.

Sometimes we lament when something we like is suddenly trendy, because of those who like it only because it's trendy without any deeper understanding or appreciation, but that is really railing against consumerist misappropriation rather than at popularity. Most of us agree that if something becomes popular, but people who now like it become genuinely interested in whatever it is, then that is fine - it's only when people are hopping onto the metaphorical bandwagon without any real care or consideration that we have a problem. This isn't something that just Goths face - it's a general issue, and is part of the problem with any form of cultural and artistic misappropriation; something becomes a trend, lots of people do something to be 'cool' and a few big corporations make a lot of money off someone else's work and culture, usually in a tacky and misrepresentative way, and often while whoever originally had the thing were previously denigrated for it, and may continue to be denigrated for it... It's the same mechanism, but at a variety of scales and level of severity depending on what is being misappropriated and who from.

I think it is also important to acknowledge that Goths are fully aware that they're being to a greater or lesser degree, like other Goths. We are not involved in search for pure individualism, we're looking for other people whose authentic selves are similar to our own. We pride ourselves on being our true selves, and on not being dictated to by outside forces, but we are also happy to socialise with likeminded individuals. Yes, a certain amount of cattiness and peer-pressure can occur, but one refrain I hear over and again from Goths to others interested in the subculture is that it is more important to be your truest self than it is to be as 'Goth' as possible. Also, outsiders may see a monolithic group of people all dressed in black as 'the same' but really, someone into something like Cybergoth (which I think was better termed 'gravers' and is a hybrid of electronic, industrial and Goth, not a sub-style) may have common interests with someone that is an Elizabethan-esque Romantic Goth, but their modes of personal self expression are probably going to be quite different!

Another thing that is worth addressing is that many Goths (but not all), feel like mainstream society rejected them - one common thing I find when talking to other Goths is that even before they joined the subculture, they were somehow 'different' and felt alienated, even ostracised, by their peers and mainstream culture. This could be because they were considered 'overly' academic  - "nerdy"
, interested in weird or unusual things - "geeky" or "freaky" - or maybe they were just a bit sensitive ("emo" used as a pejorative rather than as a subcultural group), or maybe there's other intersectional factors, but a lot of us feel like we've been marginalised for having a personality that isn't what mainstream society demands, and instead of bending to the will of the majority and trying to become someone more acceptable, we've met with people who like the same music as us, like the same books as us, the same aesthetics, and share a similar underlying mindset, and joined with them. Why we have become Goths rather than joining any other subculture is because our interests happened to be those of darker nature,  and our personalities those with at least a hint of morbid curiosity, and a blend of Romanticism and cynicism. As I've written about before, once we're Goth we often encounter prejudice, intolerance and plenty of negative stereotypes about us, too. Some people remain angry and bitter at the world for constantly rejecting them, others find that in meeting others like them, there is enough community and solace, and others find different ways of processing past rejection, and some people find that as they get older, the world judges them less for what music they like and what books they read, and maybe more on other criteria - what sort of car you drive, how financially successful you are, where you live, etc. 

Some people within the subculture, and in general, react to mainstream ostracisation defensively - "You can't sit with us" say the preppy high-school girls "I wouldn't want to, anyway" says the teenage babybat - but the purpose of the subculture isn't to oppose mainstream society or sneer down on the "conformists", it's to give us a haven away from it, a space where we can express ourselves to others who appreciate similar things - and while we don't expect to do that without challenge (after all, challenging ideas helps hone them, as does constructive criticism of creative endeavours, and it is unhealthy to live in an echo-chamber), there's a difference between challenge and hatred.

The things I would disagree with in my earlier blog post is just how negative my opinion was of mainstream society was - I think 8 years ago I was a lot less worldly and travelled, and most of my experiences with mainstream society had been profoundly negative, and I had been exposed primarily to its ugly side, and this had given me an overly negative opinion. I still criticise aspects of mainstream culture - primarily celebrity worship, mindless consumerist capitalism and the 'throw-away society', and the parts of society that still denigrate those outside of a narrow spectrum of 'acceptability' - but now I know that actually, quite a few people criticise those aspects of society, and from a variety of view-points.

I think I also still carried the dregs of defensiveness from when I was a teenager, trying to distance myself, defiantly and provocatively, from those who were trying to push me into being something I simply cannot be.  I don't think criticism of society in general is mere teenage rebelliousness, but I think the way I was doing it at the time was immature, and more about my personal anger towards the alienation, bullying and abuse I had experienced than a productive criticism. Even by the time I wrote the article in 2008, when I was a then an adult, I still held on to some of that bitterness - unaware that while I may have been significantly less angry at the world than I was an angsty 14 year old, I wasn't free of bitterness. I must admit I am probably still a little bitter at the world - but I recognise this, and try not to let it contaminate my being Goth. Bitterness is something I talk to my therapist about, not lash out at the world with.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Steampunks Storm The Castle!

I am sad this is a tad blurry.
Ok, technically I was being Steam-Goth that day, and we didn't really storm the castle, we just stood i front of it. Inverness Castle is currently the city courts (I did jury there in the first year after I moved up to Scotland; it felt a bit surreal sitting in a Gothic Revival courtroom in a Scottish Baronial castle to attend a trial presided over by the Sherif... ), and therefore storming it would be a really bad idea. Instead we stood in front of the large front door and used it as a back-drop for this photo-shoot because I thought the red sandstone walls would be the perfect colours to accentuate the outfit. The current castle was built to replace the original medieval castle in the Victorian era. It's built in the Scottish baronial style, and was built as a courthouse, police station and prison. 

Sean without goggles on his face. Photograph by myself. 

This is another set of photographs for my project documenting the Goth and nebulous dark alternative scene in Inverness. This is my friend Sean, and he's a Metalhead/Romantic Goth/Steampunk hybrid. The outfit (and re-painted Nerf gun) he wore that day typify that - stompy boots worn with a Romantic Goth jacket from Punk Rave, a decorative top hat from Raven SDL which could easily be either Romantic Goth or Steampunk (perhaps verging more on the side of Steampunk due to the brassiness of the buckle), steam-punk paint-job on his goggles and the repainted Nerf gun... a mixture of styles. 

Sean, looking for air-ships or something. Photograph by myself.

One thing that I find differentiates the Goth scene in the Highlands from the scene in other areas is how much overlap there is in participation by individuals here - very few people in the Goth scene here like only one alternative genre of music, and participate in only one subculture, to the point where most events are mixed, and it's all one merged scene rather than a Goth scene substantially differentiated from other subcultural groups. There are plenty of Metalheads here that aren't into Goth, but not many Goths here that aren't also into Metal, or also into Hippie stuff, or Steampunk stuff. When I've been in other cities, the Goths seemed to be very much their own group, and there were specific Goth club nights, and there was less overlap. 

You have to be wary of those air-ships - sometimes they have pirates!
Photography by myself, Sean modelling. Look at that awesome jacket!

I guess the overlap here is partly because we have fewer scene-specific events and resources - our club nights are mixed, it's the local hippie shop - FarFetched - that also sells Goth clothes (after the closure of Hot Rocks and Pyramid over 5 years ago), virtually no major bands take their tours to Inverness let alone anywhere else this far North, and the scene is mostly in their late teens and twenties, with fewer elder Goths still active in the scene here, so fewer direct ties to the scene's musical core and roots. There are elder Goth here, though, however, and hopefully I will be photographing a few for later in my project. 

Sean has impressive boots. Photograph by myself. 
Those who follow me on Facebook will know that I injured my left eye this summer - I accidentally flicked the sun-shade for the view-screen on the back of Raven's camera after being startled while on a photo-shoot (borrowing his camera), and it gave me a wee nick on my cornea that was really rather painful, but is mostly over my iris so does not permanently impede my vision. It did put a bit of a delay on my processing photos - but I did finish the shoot that day, and take a second! The next day however, my eyelids had swollen shut on my left eye and I hadn't much sleep because it hurt as if I'd rubbed chillies in my eye, and I had to go to the hospital... Anyway, there are definitely more photos in this series to be poster up. I will continue to photograph my local scene in all its variety and diversity.

I hope you enjoy this photographs. Please credit me and the model (Sean M.) if you decide to share these anywhere (eg. Tumblr) and link back to me. I've seen my photographs shared about on Tumblr before, and I don't mind it - to me, it shows people appreciate it - but I do want to be properly credited. This may only be a hobby for me, but it's still my work and I spend hours organising shoots, travelling, taking shoots and then processing the images, so I'd like to be credit for that!

The Steam-Goth outfit I wore that day is the same one I wore for a shoot for Carpe Nocturne magazine, so you will get to see that shortly too! 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Body Positivity, Goth and Weight Gain

Content warning: this is a post about my struggles with weight and body-image, and therefore may include topics that people may be sensitive about. 

I've been struggling to write this post. I'd like to write a post saying that I accept myself as beautiful regardless of the fact I've put on weight since starting college - not a lot of weight, I've probably only gone up a dress size, but enough to be noticeable - and that all Goths should take confidence, that we're an inclusive bunch... However, that would be disingenuous and not an accurate reflection of how things really are.

My getting fatter has been the result of unhealthy lifestyle changes;  spending all day sitting in front of a computer working on CAD projects, presentation projects and essays, pulling too many all-nighters, going from doing martial arts 3 nights a week to virtually no exercise, taking the bus instead of walking places, eating less healthily because I'm too busy studying to cook for myself, eating the unhealthy options from the college cafeteria so I can be in and out as quickly as possible, drinking lots of sugared drinks (tea, coffee), etc. etc. All of these things are unhealthy in ways beyond weight gain.  I know that when I'm on holiday, as I am now, I'm more active, have lost some of the weight, am eating a lot more healthily, etc. and that this is a temporary state of being, something I can change, and hopefully next academic year I will have more time (and money) for exercise and sport, and make changes like bringing a healthy packed lunch to college, cycling to college instead of taking the bus, trying to be better organised and less stressed (stress is not healthy in and of itself, ignoring its contribution to my weight gain).

As most people who have followed this blog for a while will know, my natural build is tall and stocky - the female version of the body-type prevalent on my father's side. I have hormonal issues that result in a few masculine traits (including receding hair-line and facial hair, unfortunately), and which possibly contribute to my being more muscular than a lot of women (in combination with having been sporty). I'm nearly 5'10" and have broad shoulders and hips, too. I used to be a bit self-conscious about this because I will never be the thin sort of figure that is seen by mainstream society as feminine, elegant and beautiful, but over time I came to embrace it because I was fast, powerful and strong - things that are more important to me than what I look like. I might not have thin limbs and a graceful figure, but I do have a side-kick like a mule and used to do manual labour alongside men and keep up.

Firstly, I'm sad that with not exercising properly and gaining weight I'm not as fit as I was. I can't chase down and over-take the bus to catch it at the next stop if I miss it at mine (it's not a side-by side race, I have the advantage of taking the diagonal and not having to deal with the same junctions as the traffic...) and I can't do as many push-ups as I used to, and I get tired walking up to the top of the hill. That athleticism I used to be proud of isn't what it was, I have taken a loss in that sense of pride. It is also impractical to be slower, to get tired quicker, to be less fit; things that were once easy have got harder.

Secondly, I don't look the way I used to. I know that this is shallow of me, and I shouldn't be annoyed with myself over something as meaningless as appearance, and that I shouldn't think I've got ugly just because I've got larger... However, I do. I guess it's partly because the person I see in the mirror doesn't look like the sporty person I was - fat has softened defined muscles, my face looks puffy, and all the softness is a reminder of martial arts classes missed, of eating instant noodles instead of home made vegetable dishes, of not going to archery practice, of not spending time training my body because I've been training my mind. It's a reminder that I've sacrificed one version of myself to pursue another, and that I need to find a way to balance the two.

But it's also because I look even further from the lean and angular ladies in polished Gothic photo-shoots, with their defined cheek-bones and thin frames cinched narrow with corsets, long slender limbs and generally slight but tall frames... 

I know it is pointless to compare myself with these images - most of them are digitally edited anyway; even my professional photographs are often edited a little, so I should know this! Intellectually, I do, and for the most part I can remind myself that comparing myself to others is an exercise in futility that will only make me miserable, but on some level, I compare myself anyway. I want to be one of the fierce but elegant angular women I see in these pictures. Glances as sharp as their cheek-bones, wasp-like waists - the vampire aesthetic, dead-undead.  I can't blame the images for my not living up to them; I only have myself to blame for comparing myself in the first place, and not being satisfied with who I am, and I only have myself to blame for not adapting to the changes in my lifestyle brought on by college. I know intellectually that beauty is divorced from a specific set of measurements and proportions, and while I can apply this to other people, I struggle to apply it to myself.

I've actually been in Gothic Beauty magazine, and will be in the fall issue of Carpe Nocturne - tall and thick-limbed as I am. The photos for Carpe Nocturne are fairly recent, taken this summer so after I'd lost some of the weight, but not back to the size I was before. I still compare myself negatively to the other women who appear in these glossy magazines - on both occasions I'm only depicted to put a face to an interview, not because I've been picked out as a beautiful model, and I look at the models and think I cannot compare. I can be well-dressed, polish my make-up skills and pose artfully, but even when I'm at my thinnest, I think I just don't have the figure to be beautiful like that.

I think that the Goth subculture does reinforce many of the beauty standards of mainstream society - when you see the photos that make it to Goth fashion magazines and which are popular on social media like Tumblr and Facebook, the ones that are most popular are the above mentioned thin and angular beauties. They are the ones which saturate Gothic fashion. They're are certainly beautiful women, and I don't begrudge their success, I just think that there's a lack of diversity of body-types. I don't even see many women of the body-type I had before I gained weight, strong limbed, powerful.

I look up to women like Gwendoline Christie portraying a strong and tall Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones and still being beautiful, or to female MMA fighters, more muscular and powerful than I am, an inspiration to me - Gabriella Garcia, for example is powerfully built and 6'2". I don't have anyone to look up to in Goth fashion that is tall and powerful. There's also a dearth of larger women, curvier women, women who aren't very pale, and of men and masculine people in general - I would estimate that 90% of Gothic fashion photos and images I come across are femme women.

I would like to see a broader diversity of body-types in Gothic fashion imagery, especially in that which is promoted. I would like to see more people who are androgynous and gender-non-conforming, and I would definitely like to see more men. Goth used to be a space where the men were as interested in fashion and style as the women, and where gender-non-conformity was common. I still meet plenty of non-binary Goths, but I don't see them in the fashion imagery. I'm seeing an increasing representation of Goths who aren't very pale, which is excellent - dark-skinned Goths are as valid as pale-skinned Goths. Don't get me wrong, as someone who was bullied for so long for being naturally very pale and not wanting to get a fake tan and darkening foundation, I like being in a space where my complexion is celebrated rather than denigrated, but it's important that we don't become exclusionary in turn, or even racist. 

Before this becomes another rant going nowhere, I know I'm not the first person in the Goth subculture to notice this narrowness, this continuation of mainstream beauty standards even though as a subculture we should have the autonomy to decide against that sort of thing. Things are being done - Goth magazines are showcasing a broader range of models, especially a more ethnically diverse range, and plenty of Goth bloggers outside narrow beauty standards are putting themselves out there with their own content and images,  more made-for-Goth fashion ranges come in larger sizes and smaller sizes (I know many very petite Goth ladies who have struggled to find things that fit well on them, especially shoes), and there are groups and events setting out to celebrate body-positivity and beauty in many shapes and forms. Each time people raise the topic and speak up against having a narrow definition of beauty in Goth, it erodes that narrowness. There's also groups like ::Club Bodice:: in San Francisco work to create body-positive spaces within Goth and have shame-free club-nights - Club Bodice is the first to organise a deliberately size and body positive Goth night. Nobody should be made to feel they don't have the right body or look to have fun.

Progress is being made, it just needs to keep being made. 

In the meanwhile, I will try my best to balance being a student with looking after my health, sleeping properly, exercising more and eating nutritiously. And I will try to remember that whether or not I am beautiful is not based on how closely I measure up to the thin-framed women with sharp cheek-bones in Gothic photoshoots. Being mindful of when I'm falling prey to external pressures is the first step to not letting them get to me. 


I was contacted via FaceBook by Club Bodice, and their body-positive club nights in San Francisco. I was invited to their first anniversary David Bowie themed event, but being all the way over in Scotland, I can't attend. I was asked to share details of the event, and will.

The 'It's Only Forever' event will be held at the Stud Bar at 399 9th Street, San Francisco, California (US of A), 9410. It is for those over 21 only, and the door admission is $10 and it runs from 21:00 on 21st August to 02:00 the next morning.  Kitty Von Quim will be doing a burlesque performance, and there will also be belly-dancing by Ariella. I think there's also going to be a prize give-away. The Facebook page for the event is ::here::.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Being An Adult Goth

Being an adult Goth has its own challenges.

I wrote about being an adult Goth before, ::here::. After watching ::this:: video by Mama Bat on YouTube, who wanted to hear from Goths over the age of 25, I was inspired to write about it again. I know I'm probably repeating myself, but I hope I am not repeating myself too much.

Firstly, some clarification. I'm not an ElderGoth; I don't remember the most of the '80s  as I wasn't even born until the latter end, and I wasn't part of the scene in the '90s, and I only started getting interested in Goth in the early to mid '00s - that's still well over 10 years ago, but it's only a fraction of the time some people have been in this scene, and I don't want to claim experience that I don't have. However, I am an adult, and I've had to live in the 'big wide world', beyond education institutions (school, college, university) and there's definitely a shift that takes place when you have different considerations in your life. This entry is mostly about the differences in my experience being a Goth as a teenager and as an adult. 

It's NOT Just A Phase
As a teenager, I did go through phases of experimenting with subcultural identities, starting with Goth and eventually returning, and this, coupled with the general misconception that Goth is unilaterally an expression of temporary teenage angst and rebellion, meant that it was very often presumed that it would be something I would grow out of. Adults around me often refused to support me in being Goth, because of this - it wasn't based around disapproval of the content, more that when I was still dependent on my family financially and was fixated on the idea of made-for-Goth clothes and buying my music as CDs, I wasn't going to get bought anything Goth as it was seen as something too transitory to invest in (this was less of an issue when I realised that charity shops sold non-mainstream things and adaptable things, and how to customise things, and as I got older and could earn my own money, etc.). As I did flit between subcultural identities this was understandable, and as stroppy as I may have been about this when I was 13/14, I don't begrudge it now. The other problem I had was how my mental health issues, as real and obvious as they should have been, where dismissed as me "attention seeking" as some sort of angsty teenage phase connected to my being Goth, but that is another issue. 

Still being Goth now, all those years laters, has proven that this time, it wasn't a phase; this actually is who I really am. Some of my family are now more accepting because of this, and others are less accepting. I think there were some who tolerated it because they thought it was something I would have abandoned soon enough anyway, and now that I've demonstrated that this is who I am, they have more of an issue with it. I feel that there is a sentiment that if it had been a feigned interest done for temporary rebelliousness, then that was something tolerable because it wouldn't have been a reflection of me, just an affected pose, and therefore while pretentious and annoying, not an indication of my truly embracing values and interests that they are opposed to. 

I also get criticism from strangers - often variations on "aren't you too old to be trying to piss off your parents?" and "how are you supposed to get a job when you look like that". My rebuttal to the first is that my father's completely accepting of my dress sense. He doesn't personally really like that style and I think he liked it better when I was into more hippie/bohemian things as that is closer to his interests, but he also accepts that there's nothing wrong with it, and has no problem with me being Goth or dressing the way I do. As to the underlying idea that Goth is inherently for teenagers, I explained in previous article that it's actually aimed more towards adults, especially when the club scene is such a major component. My reply to the second usually was "I have a job!" but now I'm at university and had to quit my job to study (architecture is an intensive course, and I personally can't juggle the course and a job), my response is a bit more detailed; there are plenty of Goths who have jobs, but I accept that some employers prefer a more conservative appearance, and I can change my look to be appropriate to the situation.
This brings me on to the next topic..

Balancing Employer's Requirements And Goth
This is something I touched on in my previous blog article about being an adult Goth.

One thing I worry about is if employers and potential employers would deem my subcultural affiliation as a sign that I might be a bad employee - there are reasons I keep this blog under the pseudonym of 'HouseCat', and where I do use my real name, only use part of it,  and one of those is that if potential employers search me on the internet under my full name, they won't immediately find my work in the subculture. I'm not ashamed of being Goth, but I am worried about the prevalence misconceptions and misinformation; a lot of people think we're deviants and delinquents, when we're really nothing like that. When I do things with a subcultural leaning that can be relevant work experience, I get very conflicted, and think very carefully about how I word things, often leaving out the word 'Goth'. 

Each employer and each job will have different dress-codes, some have uniforms and some are very strict about a homogenous appearance. Some are also more likely to look down on anything relating to subcultural identity - I worked in one place that had a policy of "pale" nail-varnish colours only, and where I got reprimanded for silver nail-polish (definitely pale!) while another girl with a more mainstream aesthetic was allowed to wear neon yellow and I got told that there wasn't going to be a colour I would be allowed to wear that would fit in with my style, and that they'd prefer pink... In general, however, I've found that my aesthetic quirks are usually accepted as long as I am smart and well-groomed and wear whatever attire is required for the job in hand. 

I know that architecture, the field I will be going into, requires a more conservatively professional aesthetic than some, but it is also a creative field, so there is some leniency for eccentricity. I expect that it will be beneficial to me in the search for employment to dye my hair a natural colour, for example. One of my friends, a purple-haired Goth lady, has recently got an internship with a firm in the US, and she is dyeing her purple hair a more natural colour for that. When the time comes for me to sacrifice my emerald green hair, I will either seek out either a PPD free black dye (SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!) or go for a redhead look. I have been ginger before, and I liked it, however I do sometimes miss my jet-black hair, hence the collection of black wigs. In the meantime, I will continue to revel in the freedom being at university gives me. 

While, in an ideal world, aesthetic preference wouldn't be taken as a measure of competency, and whether you prefer dyed green hair to dyed blonde, or have piercings and tattoos would be irrelevant as long as you maintained a smart and well-groomed appearance, we're not living in an ideal world, and I accept that compromises have to be made. All my tattoos are planned for parts of my body that won't show under usual office attire, and I took most of my piercings out years ago. I have a real passion for architecture and especially for historic buildings, and if modifying my appearance makes it easier for me to do what I love, then I'm willing to make compromises, especially as Goth is so much more than just fashion, so even if I'm making compromises with my appearance, it doesn't stop me from having an '80s 'Trad. Goth' playlist for my bus commutes or going out to a Goth event on a Friday night instead of a regular bar, or whatnot. 

Benefits Of Being An Adult Goth
The obvious benefit of being an adult Goth is that I'm old enough to participate in the club scene; I'm above legal drinking age (18 in the U.K.) and to go to gigs at venues that sell alcohol, and therefore take part in a huge portion of the subculture I couldn't take part in as a younger teen, but that's not the only benefit. As mentioned before, having my own independent income means I am free to chose what I spend it on (even though often times that has meant spending what little I earned primarily on rent, food and utilities, with little spare for things like music, clothes, books, etc. - being an adult also means adult responsibilities) and even though I certainly don't think how Goth you are should be measured by disposable income spent on Goth, it certainly does make things easier now that I can buy records or velvet skirts for myself, or tickets to gigs, entry fees to clubs... As I've progressed in terms of employment and had more income, that has allowed me to afford to spend more on Goth, too. I'm now a student again, and gave up my job to study, so I'm back to thrift shopping on the rare occasions I can afford even that, but when I was working, that certainly helped with how much I could participate.

I think the best thing about being an adult and a Goth is that I can travel around more independently. Personally, I am unable to drive due to health reasons, but there's still a lot of benefits to being able to travel independently rather than having to ask my Dad for a lift, or always having to travel with friends, in terms of flexibility of participation. I only have to fit travel around public transport and my own schedule, not everyone else's. While I am limited by my schedule and by the reach of my disabled person's travel pass (Scotland only), it's nice to be able to go beyond the town I live in to access Goth gigs and events, and meet up with friends in the subculture. As I live somewhere a bit more rural, this is definitely useful, as even nearby towns don't have much in the way of Goth events and gigs, and it usually means a trip to Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Having my own space, free of parental rules, or the rules of dorms and student housing (eg. no posters on the walls was frequently a rule, as this was seen as a fire-hazard, and also all electrical items must be safety-checked, including string-lights, and this had to be paid for so a £1 set of Hallowe'en scary-lights suddenly would also have to cost an electrician's safety-check fee, and seemed a less attractive proposition, and again another fire-safety rule was absolutely no candles or incense) meant the ability to have a space I could make more homely, and more in keeping with aesthetic and musical tastes. Rental properties often didn't let me make any major changes to the decor, but I was free to put my own pictures up, to have string lights and candles, to put in my own furniture, etc. Now I've got a mortgage on my 'own' house (well, it doesn't feel like it's completely mine all the time the mortgage is fairly new and the amount we've paid off is tiny compared to the size of the loan) I can completely re-decorate - a process I am thoroughly throwing myself into.

This is mostly my own experience as an adult Goth, and I would love to hear about the experiences of other adult Goths. Also, as someone who feels like they missed out on the first 25-ish years of Goth, I also love hearing about Goth before I started being one in the early/mid '00s (although that is somewhat tangental from this blog entry).