Embracing Goth's Heart Of Darkness

Illustration for article titled Embracing Goth's Heart Of Darkness

In my early teen years, I was a cheerleader. I liked pink, turquoise and fashion magazines. But a few years later, things changed: Suddenly, I was into Stephen King. Edgar Allan Poe. Ravens. I wore black, including broomstick skirts with Docs or men's oxfords from vintage stores. I watched The Crow a billion times and bought chunky silver jewelry. My sister and I shared a skull-printed jacket. And I'm not alone: According to Cintra Wilson's piece in The New York Times today, she had a Goth period, too. And Goth will not die.Modern teens are into the all-black, skull-tastic "Goth" look more than ever. But now, the "outcast" style is rather inclusive: Ms. Wilson contacted 18-year-old Wendy Jenkins via Facebook, who says: "It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, black, white, heavy, thin. Goth can fit everyone! I think it is a great way to bond with others who are different and who are just like you at the same time! Because we are wearing black most the time we are EZ to find!" And yes, Goth is partly about fashion: the Times shows Rodarte shoes and Givenchy chains as examples. But isn't Goth also about attitude? About seeing beauty in darkness, about living through tragedy, about existential crisis, about pain? Do you even have to wear black to be Goth? We all have phases. Hortense claims she dressed in black and listened to My Bloody Valentine and carried Gorey books ten years ago. Sadie swears Loveless is the best album in teen history. Megan says, "There was a phase of mine that involved a lot of black and corpse-colored lipsticks and a parentally-foiled attempt to either shave my head or die it black. Also, I had a spider-web mesh shirt. There are pictures." Maria concurs: "I wasn't a goth but I had a big emo/hardcore phase in high school (I'm from Orange County, hardcore phases are required). A lot of spiked dark hair, Hot Topic accoutrement, and shitty local bands." But let's not belittle getting in touch with the "darker" side of ourselves. Perhaps you're meant to snicker at Wendy Jenkins, the teenage Goth who writes to Ms. Wilson: "I think vampires are freeking sweet because they have such true emotions that no mere mortals can express! I too at times think I am a vampire being with my hate of garlic and how my eyes r sensitive to light." But I can't. And not because it's later revealed that she is in a wheelchair. It's because I think we all have a little Goth in us. There is no knowing true joy without first knowing real pain. And it doesn't matter if you bought your bondage pants at Hot Topic or in New York on St. Marks Place 20 years ago: Don't we all feel like skipping work and staying in bed reading Baudelaire sometimes? Don't we all want to lie on the floor listening to The Smiths (or Siouxsie, or Dead Can Dance, or My Chemical Romance) now and then? Being a "Goth" or an Emo or whatever is just an external signal that says "Shit fucking sucks sometimes." So what if Goth will not die? Long live goth! You Just Can’t Kill It [NY Times]



I never had a goth phase, more of a skateboarder chick with big pants and dog collars and pink hair around 8th grade. I only wore Etnies or DC shoes (which I think were rather new around that time) and a lot of 'Freshjive'. Does that stuff even exist anymore? I pray they aren't making those nasty Jnco jeans at least...