Goodness, Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners is sure that all of you have seen the photos all around the Web of President Obama and his family with the Spanish Prime Minister and his family, including his two gothling teen daughters. The Lady of the Manners thinks the photo is adorable, and fervently hopes that the Spanish Prime Minister has been keeping his daughters out of the media spotlight because he wants them to have some privacy, not because he is possibly embarrassed by the girls’ Goth appearance. Because (by the Lady of the Manners’ logic), if the Spanish Prime Minister was apprehensive about his daughters’ gothy tendencies, he would have done what parents of Goths have done for ages, and informed his daughters that they were not going to attend the event dressed like that. But obviously he didn’t, and the whole photo just makes the Lady of the Manners beam fondly.
Speaking of possible parental disapproval, this edition of Gothic Charm School involves a question that caught the Lady of the Manners’ eye because not only is it about a Snarkling trying to get her mother to accept her evolving style, but it is also (tangentially) about a musical artist that the Lady of the Manners is quite fond of. Here, read the quandary Megan finds herself mired in:
First, let me say I adore what you’re doing. I picked up your book while studying at the book store/cafe near me and have since found your site and been reading for three days straight. You have the most fabulous style and advice.
Now, onto my problem. My mother has always accepted that I was and am a… Strange child. When I was 14 I began the whole phase of what I and some friends lovingly refer to as ‘gawfik’. It boils down to ‘Goth-In-A-Box’ and mimicking what the cool goth kids wore. Needless to say it was pathetic, uncomfortable and didn’t win me many friends.
But my mother took all this in stride and while she would roll her eyes at my insistence that I just had to wear my Tripp pants to the store just in case someone I knew was there, she’d allow it and deal because I wasn’t harming anyone. Though through this whole time I had failing grades, isolated myself and was just generally horrible to everyone.
I’ve grown up. I’m a well-rounded young lady of 18 years and have taken my studies to heart, I don’t party, I make all A’s and study four different languages while being an artist and musician and planning to go to college for forensic science.
Now here is where my problem starts. My style has evolved now. I’m finally back into things and instead of off the rack Hot Topic clothes I want a style something like yours, only if your style went through the Apocalypse. Victoriandustrial is the name, inspired by a lovely woman by the name of Emilie Autumn.
I just have problems doing it with confidence and my mom has problems with all of it. I love the style, I want to search thrift stores for everything possible I can use, I collect patterns and horde material for when I can use it. I just get so scared to dress that way… In front of my mom. I can take the stupid comments from strangers, but it’s my mother’s looks of… Well, near disgust. Her little comments about corsets or my stompy boots or stripped stockings. It makes me want to run to my room, throw on jeans and a rainbow tee and present myself at her mercy.
You’ll see in some of Emilie Autumn’s pictures her shorts get quite short, not quite what I’m doing. I like my pants a bit longer, my skirts too, and more full of gathering and trains… And bustles and… Well, you get the idea. Yet she has a problem with this. I look far more elegant now, approachable and when out with friends dressed how I want I am fine, I feel like a rule the world and get tons of compliments on what I wear. It is only with my mother I feel shame.
Of course, now that I am a good student she decides I am not allowed to go to the museum wearing a corset, even if it is over a white silk shirt with pageboy pants and riding boots. No, I can not do smudgy black liner all around my eyes. No, bright red lipstick is not acceptable. Oh, but I can dye my hair teal and chop it all off if I want, so long as she gets to make comments on how it looks like cotton candy and make me want to hide in my room.
Sorry, started getting into a tangent there.
How can I explain this is what makes me happy? That long skirts with lace, corsets and boots and stripe stockings and a undead Victorian look makes me happy and warm inside and that her looks of disapproval make me feel ashamed?
I have a good relationship with her and I’d love to keep it that way, I just have no idea how to tell her this when she goes on and on about how our house is full of acceptance. I mean, my best friend is allow to run around in drag and do make up all over himself if he wishes, but I can’t even wear a corset over my long sleeved, hip length silk shirt.
Any advice would be wonderful,
Oh you dear Snarkling. The Lady of the Manners is very aware of Emilie Autumn and her Victorianindustrial style. In fact, the Lady of the Manners is looking forward to seeing Emilie Autumn and her Bloomer Brigade in concert, and is also eagerly awaiting the release of the Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls book. The Lady of the Manners is quite charmed by Emilie Autumn’s tattered, post-apocalyptic, and mad-girl take on Victorian styles, and thinks day-to-day life would be much more interesting and entertaining if other people decided to decorate themselves in a similar fashion.
So why is your mother so disapproving of your wanting to adorn yourself like an undead Victorian? At a guess, probably because when you were a wee “gawfik” babybat of 14, your mother was convinced that it was all just a phase you were going through. Especially because you say that you were also isolating yourself and being horrible to people at that time; your mother probably thought that if she didn’t make a fuss over how you looked, that you would figure out who you were and how you wanted to present yourself to the world. Which is wonderful, and the Lady of the Manners wants to encourage all parents of younger gothlings to just shrug and accept their babybat’s oh-so-spookypants ways.
But. Underneath all of that shrugging, rolling her eyes, and letting you wear your Tripp pants to the store just in case there was someone you knew there, your mother probably held onto the idea that as you got older, you would grow out of it. Not grow into an even more elaborate, elegant, and somewhat theatrical sense of style. The fact that you have applied yourself to your studies, are getting straight As, and have decided what you want to do with your life are apparently not enough to rid your mother of the notion that Goth is something that you were supposed to grow out of. Which, as you well know, is ridiculous. The Lady of the Manners is of the opinion that while many youngsters use Goth as something of a template for expressing rebellion and teen angst, the ones who stay in the Goth subculture grow into it and make it their own. They go on to put their own twists and takes on this velvet-lined, gloom-limned world and become their own persons, which is absolutely as it should be.
So what can Megan do? You know what the Lady of the Manners’ suggestion is going to be, don’t you, Snarklings? Megan, sit down with your mother and ask her what her objections to your personal style are. Don’t feel that you have to defend or justify the way you want to present yourself, not at all! But as you talk with your mother about why she seems so against your expressing yourself, be prepared to … er … well, perhaps not correct her, but to point out where her fears might be not based in reality. Explain to her that dressing this way makes you feel happy and confident and truly yourself, and that corsets, bustles, and stripy stockings do not change the fact that you are a good person. Tell her (as you told the Lady of the Manners) that you feel you have a good relationship with her and you don’t want that to change; then tell her that you are hurt that her acceptance seems to apply to everyone but her own daughter.
Now, no matter how carefully you word this, your mother will still probably be a bit defensive. The Lady of the Manners hopes that your mother doesn’t realize how upsetting her comments have been, and once she gets past the first flash of defensiveness, she will try her best to not make you feel small and ashamed any longer. But if she continues to make those sorts of comments about how you choose to present yourself, then you must learn to ignore her. Yes, ignore your mother. There are always going to be people who don’t approve of or agree with you about, well, just about anything, and sometimes those people are family members. Sometimes all you can do is nod and acknowledge that you have heard their comments, and ignore those comments and be the person you want to be. Yes, it will be difficult, and yes, sometimes it may be painful to ignore what people are saying, but it’s something you must learn to do.
Of course, the Lady of the Manners very much hopes that this is all simply a case of your mother not realizing that her reactions to your wardrobe have been chipping away at your self esteem, and that once you sit down and talk to her, she will wholeheartedly support you and your self-expression. Please write back to the Lady of the Manners and let her know how the conversation goes!
Next time at Gothic Charm School, the Lady of the Manners rather suspects that it’s time for a Where To Find Gothy Clothing post. At least, there seems to have been a great many questions asking that in the Gothic Charm School mailbox of late! You know, that Gothic Charm School mailbox that you can send emails to …?