Friday, 22 May 2015

Growing up Goth - after the phase cements.

I'm in my mid twenties.  I've been dressing in corsets, lots of black, impractical boots and too much eyeliner since my late teens when I finally got full rein on my wardrobe, and I've never once regretted it.  I was in medical school without image-related issues for three years before transferring to Psychology (finished my third year exams today, booyah!)  So today, on World Goth Day, I'll impart a few quick, positive affirmations off the top of my head for all those of you leaving school and wondering if you will need to sacrifice your sartorial preferences to pursue your career, rather than changing just because you want to (or even sticking with it, like I am).

  1. It's not as bad as they say - you won't have to stop having your own style.  I only needed to make small adjustments in medical school. I dressed how I pleased to class and only toned it down for ward visits and patient interactions.  A deathhawk and cyberdog outfits will not fly in some environments, but the NHS and many other employers are increasingly relaxed about dyed hair so long as it's neat, tattoos as long as visible ones aren't offensive, and eyeliner and piercings provided makeup and body mods don't pose a hygiene issue.  Just exercise common sense.  You can find fantastic goth-friendly clothes which are well suited to boardrooms and consultations and save your 12 inch platforms for off-duty wear.  In Psychology, we come in a range of shapes, sizes and styles, and researchers in particular can wear a relaxed wardrobe.  I had a massively goth friend who has a degree in law and did well in the courtroom (obviously she had to wear the robes like everyone else, but her suits were fabulous).  Look at your career plans and invest in clothes you love that would be acceptable, but there's no need to throw out the black and purple in favour of an all-grey wardrobe of cookie-cutter suits and a sensible brown-with highlights chic bob. (Though if you like that look, no judgement, and carry on rocking that bob, you sassy, saucy person.)
  2.  Be a good colleague and you'll likely be accepted.  This is me right now.  I'm accepted by students, lecturers and others because I act in a friendly, helpful manner, pull my weight and join in.  If you're a good person to others, no amount of unusual style choices will make you an outcast.                                                          
  3.  YOU CAN GET A JOB.  I've had a few.  Some are more accepting than others, but as I mentioned before, everywhere's getting more accepting.  I've worked in IT, in shops and bars alongside my studies.  And you can keep your social life.  And the modelling on the side, and your hobbies, and everything else.  Your life can be flexed into the shape you desire.  There are grown professional goths out there with careers and families who I still see on the occasional club night or at gigs.  Work out what you need, how you can have it and plan ahead, and you can balance that work and life.
  4. Always make choices that work for you.  Never be shamed for quitting something you didn't like or that wasn't working.  Don't take grief for pursuing your own ambitions.  Whether you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a tattooist, a jewellery maker, a novelist, a stay-at-home parent or a professional costumer/re-enactor, find out what you want to do and go for it.  Don't look back on life and regret it because you spent all your time being what other people want you to be.
  5. Above all, look after yourself, be with people who make you happy, and keep on being you.
Happy World Goth Day!


  1. Great post! I'm glad to see the Goth subculture living on in people like you! In the immortal words of The Cramps, stay sick! :)

  2. What you say is so true and excellent advice :) I'm in my late twenties, and I'm hopefully heading back into studies soon (I had my final entrance interview for university) and while people often berate Goths saying "you'll never get a job looking like that!" it isn't true. I have a job in a school and green hair! There are all sorts of ways of making outfits both still true to yourself AND work appropriate.