I am actually really excited about this bit of advise. I got two questions from one SUPER FREAKING CUTE (no seriously she sent me a photo and she's mother freaking adorable in the OMG I WANNA PUT HER IN MAH POCKET kind of way..ahem) reader who is 17 and venturing into the Bat Cave.
Basically our BebehBat wants to know how I as a goth of color dealt with other folks of color who took issue with my gothness, how to not fight with her Mama about gothy clothes AND then she asked me seperately how to achieve some style with a thrift store budget.
All excellent questions.
I'm going to tackle the color issue first but, Bebeh I need you swear on your favorite boots that as a Goth of Color you will never...EVER do any of the following:
Now let's start with working this out with your Mama.
My parents were probably not too surprised at my turn towards the Bat cave. I started dressing funny as soon as I was able to dress myself so it wasn't a shock.
With your Mom I'd suggest guiding her into things gently. So don't start showing her pictures of crazy White people in latex right away you know?
The first thing to talk about I think is that Black folks are not a monolith. There are all sorts of Black folks and Black folks who like the goth exist and there is nothing wrong with them. Having weird hair or wearing weird clothes really does not change who you are at a base level.
You are who you are regardless of the clothes you use to cover your butt.
You may have to compromise and that's okay too.
Now on dealing with other folks of color that's a whole other thing.
For those who don't know there is often a lot of pressure in the Black Community to conform to a single ideal of Blackness.
These pressures take all kinds of forms. Pressures to wear your hair straight, pressures to wear what everyone else is wearing but not what the White kids are wearing, pressures to speak a certain way etc etc.
Bebeh you may get called names.
Now being that I haven't been your age in over a decade things might have changed but all I can tell you is to hold your head up high and fly your freakflag proudly.
Nobody has the right to make you into something or someone you are not.
And let your Mom know that really of all of the scenes I have been into Goths have rarely if ever been weird about me being a Black lady.
I have never felt in danger, I have never felt like ZOMG all the White folks is staring, or felt out of place among my black clad homies. I have been in some skeevy situations, in some scenes that I was pretty sure I wouldn't walk out of but never in the context of being around other goths.
So give your mama some time.
Most people your Mama included have a hard time dealing with it when their friends or loved ones seem to reincarnate in front of their eyes into someone else. The best thing you can do for people who's opinions matter to you is just be who you are.
For the strangers, frankly fuck em.
I want to talk about hair, make up and last clothes okay?
If you're hanging out with alt minded folks already Bebeh you may be tempted to do crazy things to your hair. You may want a death hawk, you may want to dye it fantastic colors and that is awesome. I LOVE brightly colored hair. But lemme tell you from years of experience when you want the crazy colors invest in some wigs.
After lots of bleaching and other insanity I really had a hell of a time getting my hair back. I don't want you to go through the same thing.
I really love wigs from Manic Panic. I've owned and worn many from there in everything from white platinum blonde to atomic red. I love them. Also it saves you from having to hear shit from people who don't think bright hair is going to help you land or keep a job.
This is my favorite style. It is super super cute.
Further if you go through a my hair must be different colors every twenty minutes phase you can get yourself a little collection then BAM you are good to go.
There are also always synthetic dreadlock extensions, braids etc. Remember, for the most part whatever you want to do with your hair you can probably get it done without harming the hair growing out of your head.
Now how about make up?
If your Mama is uneasy about you working the wild make up and if you're on a budget I encourage you to start with some basics.
At the bare minimum you need a moisturizer with SPF. Yes. Wear your sunscreen. Every day.
Now for a simple age appropriate but gothy look that your Mom may approve of all you need is a matte face (achieved wit just powder or foundation or whatever you like) a liquid eyeliner and mascara.
Yep I'm talking about regular winged liner. I have been wearing a swipe of winged liner, mascara and tinted lips as my go to look since I was about 14. Head on over to youtube and there are eleventy billion links on how to do this with liquid or pencil liner.
Top that off with a lipstick you like or a gloss and you're done.
My method for clothes is this, you can goth up damn near anything.
I buy basics (for me plain stretchy shirts, tights, some skirts) at places like Target, Kmart, Walmart (do NOT give me shit about Walmart okay, I go where I can afford), Fred Meyer's etc.
While your Mom is uncomfortable with your budding Gothiness I suggest investing for the time being in things you can accesorize with gothy things. My personal favorite things are Aline or full cut skirts with mary janes or boots, I like full length skirts etc.
When you're thrifting keep your eye on colors. That is my method. I head to my general size then dig through the racks based on colors. don't be afraid to accent your wardrobe with colors you really like. I personally am a burgundy and purple kinda girl.
As I am working on my personal wardrobe I thrift the skirts and things like that and I save my pennies for boots or other awesome shoes.
I check places like JCPenny, etc for things on sale.
The fact is almost every clothing store ever carries some stuff in black that you might like. Keep your eyes on clearance sales etc.
Also join LJ and check out some of the communities I'll be linking at the bottom.
Cruise etsy for things you might like. I have a weird love for cephalopod jewelry and will enter that and cruise for hours. There are SO many sellers with different kinds of gothy jewelry and other accessories you can find something.
And speaking of etsy don't be afraid to ask a seller if you can make payments. If something seems too expensive, take a breath and see if you can make a deal with a seller. Simply explain that you're a high school student on a tight budget and would like to make payments if possible. Lots of folks are broke these days and it never hurts to ask.
Now some links?
Yes some links.
An article from Morbid Outlook on being a Goth of Color.
LucyFur's Goths of Color website. She hasn't updated in forever but it's worth reading the stuff that is still functional.
Read some stuff on LJ.
Gothfash. I have purchased LOTS of stuff from here. Not a lot of plus size listings but lots of posts with some awesome stuff for sale.
Goth makeup tips. Not updated super awesome but a good place to read.
Faerie Fashion if you're into some more fairy oriented goods.
For Lip Service the Lippy Addicts Community is a super find. I will say there are not a lot of fatties (or out on the internet fatties) there so looking for any of the rare plus size items can be disappointing.
Also check out these spots:
GothAuctions. It's like ebay but mostly goth stuff. I have purchased lots and lots of stuff from here and the sellers I've dealt with have all been pretty awesome.
If you like to sew or want to learn how to sew and do some altering on clothes head over to Antimony & Lace. I have used tutorials from this site for a long time. The instructions are clear and work fabulously.
Avant Gauche is also a really good resource for sewing gothic and gothic lolita stuff.
And one more thing.
If your Mama is dead set against you dressing in a gothy way don't fight too hard.
The fact is you're 17 and it won't be a super long time that you have to live under her roof so make it work until you can start your own life outside of the house.
I know that's hard to hear and can be super frustrating but it's the truth.
Save up, buy yourself some trinkets and then when you're on your own and have your bills paid dress as flashy as you wanna. You have lots and lots of time to dress however you please and a little while more won't kill you I promise.
It will piss you off and probably hurt your feelings but you can survive that.
Now I don't have a lot of pictures of myself from around your age Bebeh.
Here is one where I was rocking the long long braids. That was my only pair of jeans for a long time. My look at this point was that pair of faded black jeans that sat way low on my hips just so, fishnet shirt, tank top over it. Lots of jewelry. Picture taken by my baby brother, I think I was 19 or so.
What you can't see is that I wore a shitload of rings most of the time. At least 9 at a time, I also usually wore three silver hoops in each ear. And black workboots.
This next one I believe I was about 20 and WAY into Funhouse (Does anyone else remember that brand?) dresses. This was my favorite dress, the floaty part actually fit like an attached cape. That is a wig I'm wearing (the one I linked above from Manic Panic) and srs gawth was very srs.
These days I'm usually found more like this:
Now I open the floor to the rest of my homies.
Are you attracted to the Bat cave?
Do you live there?
Now I'm off to do yanno stuff.
Tomorrow um...I don't know what I might post tomorrow. Perhaps the post I have saved about the stuff I am into clothes wise for Spring.
Now good night darlings.