Gothic on the inside

Posted: July 2, 2013 in McBride family madness
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recently my ten year old daughter emailed me this link to a post on The Gothic Charm School website. I wondered at first why she had sent it to me. What was she trying to tell me – that I was a less than supportive parent in her quest for self-expression? Ooh, just wait until she sees the skull-festooned dress I’d ordered off Etsy for her birthday…

The birthday dress – image from Etsy.

I asked her, and she shrugged. “I dunno,” she said. “I just thought you might be interested in it.”

My first reaction on reading the post was one of heartbreak for all those little babybats getting disrespected or verbally abused by their parents. I reflected on my own upbringing; I was very fortunate in that my mother and stepfather allowed me, without judgement or comment, to dress like, read and listen to whatever I pleased.

And my second reaction was: I think I might be a closet Goth. Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure fan – check. Appreciative of the Goth aesthetic – check. Reader of Edgar Allan Poe – big check (I have still have my hardback copy of “The Complete Edgar Allan Poe Tales”, which was the book I chose for my school prize for Best in English in Form 6 in 1984). And let us not forget the strongest indicator of all, the fact that I write dark speculative fiction for my own and others’ entertainment.

80's week

The author, aged 17

Spending my teenage years in small town New Zealand in the 1980’s, my exposure and access to the trappings of various subcultures was virtually non-existent. I hadn’t even heard of Goths when I was a kid, so I turned to punk (the closest equivalent). If nothing else, it made for highly amusing historical photographs to show to the grandkids (if I ever have any).

My ten year old currently sees herself as a babybat; when I was ten, I didn’t even know I had a choice to be anything but a ten year old kid. But things are different for my children. Thanks to the Internet, the world is their playground. In her ten years of existence, my daughter has aspired to be or dressed up as a mermaid, a “steampunk girl”, the Grim Reaper and Johnny Depp.

The author's daughter, aged 8

The author’s daughter,
aged 8

I shared with Alia my suspicion that I might be a Goth myself. Her eyes widened and she said, “Oh, you could be an Elder Goth!”

Ugh. I don’t really want to be referred to as an Elder anything, thank you very much. Besides, I don’t think fishnets, corsets and black lipstick are going to fly at the primary school where I work. And don’t get me started on what it would take to turn my naturally (greying) blonde, curly hair into a more suitably Gothic style.

No, I shall just remain content to be Gothic on the inside.

  1. I really love this. My parents were very judgmental of my siblings and me. None of us could express ourselves or experiment with our appearances without getting some kind of remark. I grew up too timid and embarrassed of myself to try anything different as a result. Even now, I’ve been thinking about dying my hair for the first time in my life, and I keep chickening out. These types of things have lasting impressions on people. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom.

  2. gin McElroy says:

    This is a great post, and I’m happy to hear that you’re accepting of your daughters curiosities and personal exploration. Nothing wrong with being Goth on the inside either, though sometimes a little black a nice spider brooch goes a long way if you ever felt like some mother daughter dress up. Just let remind her that it’s not about fitting an image, it’s about connecting through music, expressing yourself and being who you, because weird isn’t necessarily a bad word.

    • Thanks for commenting. Weird is a good thing in our household! 😉 I don’t do spiders, though. Bats and snakes, yes. *goes off to start compiling a Christmas wish list five months early*
      Getting serious for a minute – my daughter’s personal expression is all over the shop; one day it’s all skulls and black lace, the next she’s listening to Vocaloid, the next dressing up as Finn the Human. What else is one’s childhood for, if not to play and try on different styles and personas to see what fits?

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