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…
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.
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.
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.