What we should’ve learned from this subculture
I’ll start by saying that I was not part of the goth subculture. I loved the goth look and would wear random accessories like spiked bracelets and black clothing. However, I was never brave enough to go “full goth” like some of my friends did.
The gothic subculture became popular in the 1980s, originating in the United Kingdom after the popularity of the punk subculture waned.
The main influence of the gothic subculture was 19th-century films and literature and similar to other subcultures, its roots are in music. The Cure, Blue Oyster Cult, and Depeche Mode influenced gothic people in the 1980s, and they rocked out to Marilyn Manson, Orgy, Tori Amos, and Rammstein in the 1990s.
The goth style is all about darkness and contrast: The white powdered makeup, black hair, black lipstick, and the septum ring (nose ring that pierces the middle of the nostril).
A goth’s style is described now as eerie, artistic, and mysterious. When I was younger, gothic people were called “freaks”.
In 2020, many staples of goth fashion are now trendy.
The Septum Ring
The septum ring is actually a cultural symbol: The Mayans, Aztecs, and Incan people were the trailblazers of this accessory. The septum ring was seen as a rite of passage gained after a man experienced a soul-searching trip into the wild.
For many North American Aboriginal tribes, it was the symbol of a warrior.
When people in the gothic or punk subculture wore a septum piercing in the 1990s, it became a symbol of rebellion and also the butt of many jokes. I remember adults and kids comparing people who wore the septum ring to pigs.
In 2020, you cant walk down the street without seeing a girl with a decorative septum ring. Today, it is looked at as being beautiful, because Lady Gaga and the Kardashians wore one.
In the 1990s, the beach blonde California look was the “in” look. Anything that didn’t conform to this esthetic, was considered to be in the “freak” or “geek” category.
I will always admire my goth friends, many of whom were relentlessly tortured in school for being different and they could’ve changed to suit the norm, but they didn’t.
I have written about the way I have been treated as a pale-skinned girl. The goth people used skin whitening makeup to appear pale. As a young girl who was ashamed of my pale skin, I never understood this fashion statement but I also never shamed anyone for it. Live and let live!
Gothic people want to achieve a contrast between their black hair and their skin so they whiten their skin to achieve this look.
In the 1990s, this contrast made a person “stand out”, it was another source of ridicule for the people in the goth subculture.
The bad zombie jokes were abundant.
In 2020, pale skin is not “in” and I don’t think it ever will be. People equivocate being tanned with being healthy and most people think everyone looks better with a tan.
Black lipstick was also a fashion staple in the gothic subculture. It created another contrast with their white skin and matched the black hair goth people liked to wear.
Black lipstick was worn by the Egyptian women in 4000BC. These fashion trailblazers even had their own makeup kits! Archeologists have found wooden boxes the Eqyptian people used to store their makeup. Typically, women in the Egyptian culture were buried with two pots of rouge in their tomb.
In the film noir days, black lipstick was a commonly worn makeup product, due to the grainy, grey film quality, the actresses needed to wear a lipstick that stood out on camera.
It was not worn in public, only in film.
In the late 1970s, Manic Panic created the first commercially sold black lipstick named Raven. In the 1980s and 1990s, black and blue lipstick made a comeback.
The gothic subculture brought black lipstick back but it didn’t “go over” well. It was another source of hilarity for people who liked to make fun of gothic people.
“What’s up with your lips? You look dead” - Every dad in the 1990s