What happens when Goth fashion is used as a mainstream trend?
I’ve been a strictly black-cotton clothes with red, purple or pink lipstick Goth since 2004. It wasn’t until 2016 that I began to wear black lipstick on occasion. Before then, the last time that I had worn black lipstick was at a very young age in Elementary School, when I was Spiderella for Halloween. I found it to be too thick and drying. Many reds are like this, too, but I put up with it because I love red. Hell, a little lip balm ahead of time usually goes a long way. Black is another story.
Maybe, I hadn’t worn black lipstick until then because it’s cliché or too obvious. Anyway, one day, I realized how gorgeous it actually is. It goes with any eye makeup and any outfit. I finally understood what I had been missing! It still feels awkward to wear it out, and I have yet to go to the club as I have in my purples and reds. The night that happens will be amazing.
You may be wondering what changed my mind. A Gothic musician? A Gothic YouTuber? A Gothic vision while sleeping in my coffin?
Actually, it was a review of the Katy Perry CoverGirl Colorlicious Katy Kat Matte Lipstick. One shade is black. It’s called “Perry Panther.” The color and staying power isn’t extraordinary, but I like the way it applies and feels.
For those Goths who wear black lipstick all of the time, trying to find them in drugstores is a challenge. Now, that problem has been alleviated by multiple brands producing their own versions, such as Revlon Super Lustrous Onyx and NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick – Alien, Black.
A dream come true? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Goth in the Mainstream
Every Goth will at some point be suspected of going through a phase by non-Goths, but what happens when a Goth phase becomes mainstream for profit?
An article by Ilise S. Carter explores Pop celebrity attempts to pull off the Gothic style, while remaining ignorant of its history: “What Taylor Swift & Justin Bieber Don’t Get About ‘Goth.'” The article reminds me of why popular celebrities releasing black lipstick is troubling for the community. For decades, this same crowd has been reinforcing that we are responsible for random acts of violence. Meanwhile, they refuse to learn that no correlation exists. Today, they want our fashion. Tomorrow, they’ll be onto something new, and proceed to blame us for any future school shootings.
In 2015, Buzzfeed did an experiment called “Women Wear Goth Fashion for a Week.” It was followed up by “Men Wear Goth Fashion for a Week.” Various Goths made reaction videos. Toxic Tears had mostly positive things to say about it. Its Black Friday had more negative things to say. Both called the video out for including Pastel Goth, since it’s not historically linked to the subculture. Likewise, the one who chose Cyber Goth could have been more accurate had she taken the time to put more effort into the look.
Overall, most involved in the experiment did not seem to understand Goth. On the upside, at least, some had a good time. Those individuals began to sympathize with what Goths go through on a daily basis, such as people’s reactions out in public; however, it was only a week-long process. They would not be able to fully appreciate what it’s like to live the lifestyle.
Let’s sum this up, so far:
Perhaps, due to prejudice, laziness, or general disinterest, society does not take the time to inform themselves about this subculture. In the meantime, it reserves the right to borrow aspects of its fashion when they can profit. That is, until it is once again painted to be connected with the latest act of violence on the news. Then, it is back to being taboo, further tainting its reputation.
Never fear, though. It will be recycled for Halloween for a month or two because of money.
It reminds me of how racism, homophobia, classism, and so on are used: Exploitation.
Don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate that black lipstick is being embraced, for now, anyway; however, it’s not a big enough step towards tolerance. Please consider: Goths can’t dress comfortably without being harassed and/or threatened on the streets simply for how we look. It’s why some of us limit when and/or how we express ourselves openly.
The Severity of Discrimination Against Goths
Some may argue that Goths should continue hiding to avoid violence. That would be the same as telling someone who is LGBT or part of a certain religion not to talk about it. It wouldn’t solve the problem. Violence against any given group should be prevented. To do that, the law needs to take it seriously.
Sophie Lancaster of Lancashire, England is the most well-known murder victim within the Gothic subculture. In 2007, Sophie (20 years old) and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby (21 years old), were attacked in Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Rossendale, Lancashire. Four teenaged boys targeted Maltby, first. Once he was unconscious on the ground, Sophie tried to protect him with her body. Then, the boys proceeded to attack Sophie, until she was unresponsive, as well. Due to how graphic the series of events were, I won’t go into detail here. In the end, Maltby managed to recover from a coma; however, after Sophie was put on life support, doctors confirmed that she would never survive.
Any violence against those part of a targeted group, whether race, sexuality, or religion, should be considered a hate crime; unfortunately. it was a long struggle to convince authorities in England to treat these events as such. Sophie’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster started The Sophie Lancaster Foundation in 2009. Its mission is to keep the memory of Sophie going, to encourage that Hate Crimes need to include violence against subcultures, and to educate society about subcultures.
The community and the foundation pushed law enforcement to change how they punish acts like these. In April 2013, six years after the attack, the Greater Manchester Police officially added violence against subcultures as a Hate Crime. Ten years after her death, Goths for Sophie was created in 2017 as extra support for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and its mission. It’s one step in a long battle for acceptance of alternative people in the world.
I hope that this post will help at least one person to understand that being Goth is more than wearing black lipstick.