Questions, Snarklings! So many questions! In fact, the Lady of the Manners isn’t going to spend any more time writing an introductory paragraph or two, but is going to jump straight to answering letters from readers. Such as this one, from Wayward Victorian:
question: My dear Lady,
I discovered your website quite by accident while being sick in bed with nothing to do but browse the internet for lovely gothic items I could only hope to add to my wardrobe, and I must say this site is brilliant and very helpful. Now I find that I need your help with an issue regarding my mother. I have been openly goth for about three years now, and while my mom would occasionally roll her eyes at my somewhat darker wardrobe, she would not put restrictions on my clothing. However, after many an argument regarding my fashion choices, she has gone through my closet and taken all of my beautiful skirts, velvet blouses, lovely Victorian jackets, and anything else she has deemed “too goth.” I am turning 18 soon, and was wondering how to go about asking for these precious items back without starting another nasty argument. How do I make her realize that I am happiest when wearing my Victorian attire? Help would be greatly appreciated.
Oh, you poor creature, having your wardrobe confiscated! In the course of the nasty arguments, has your mother ever given you an explanation of why she objects to your gothy Victorian garments? Because if she can tell you why she started feeling that your fashion choices were “too goth” and why that upset her, then perhaps you can gently convince her that she has nothing to be concerned about. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t know what your mother’s objections may be, but the usual parental qualms about a gothy wardrobe tend to be:
– Other people will look at you strangely or treat you poorly.
– How you choose to dress might cause people to judge them as bad parents.
– They want you to “look like everyone else”.
As readers of Gothic Charm School know, the Lady of the Manners doesn’t consider any of those to be terribly valid. Yes, dressing in an eccentric or flamboyant manner will prompt people to look at you oddly, or treat you differently. However, some people will look at someone oddly or treat them differently for no reason whatsoever, just as people may label someone a “bad parent” for a variety of inconsequential reasons. So the Lady of the Manners doesn’t see why you shouldn’t dress to please yourself, as long as you’re aware of what sort of reactions you might inspire, and don’t fall into the trap of complaining “OMG, why are they staring at meeeeeeee?!” when you look like you’ve escaped from a Victorian asylum.
As to looking like everyone else or looking “normal”; well, those things are in no way a guarantee of untroubled happiness. The Lady of the Manners knows that she would be quite unhappy if she were (for some reason) forced to give up her velvet jackets and petticoats, because dressing in her finery is one of the things that makes her very happy indeed. Blending in with “everyone else” is sometimes nothing more than camouflage to hide misery and depression.
The Lady of the Manners quite understands not wanting to start any more arguments, but if you are happiest with your Victorian-esque attire, then you have to talk to your mother about your upcoming “adult” birthday, and the fact that you wish to make your own choices about how you present yourself to the world. Stand up for what you want, and gently but firmly explain to your mother that you would like your wardrobe returned to you. Try not to get overly upset or frustrated; however make it clear that you choose your clothes to make yourself happy and confident, and while it would be nice if your mother approved of your wardrobe choices, she shouldn’t keep your things from you.
Hello there, good Lady. It’s been a long time since I submitted a question, mostly because you’ve covered such a range of topics I can normally find what I need in the archives. Your solid wisdom and sound, mature advice is good to fall back on when things get awkward in my life, and I’ve learned from you that common sense and basic politeness solve nearly everything.
That said, there’s been some trouble in my life lately that I can’t seem to avoid. I tried your favored approach, The Moral High Road, but when someone is especially confrontational that doesn’t work. You see, I am in love with what the lolita fashion community refers to as sweets jewelry. I know cupcake shaped rings and cookie-sandwich necklaces aren’t very Goth, but I adore them nonetheless. Most Goths at my college seem to find them cute even if they wouldn’t wear it themselves. There is, however, one very loud and obnoxious exception who likes to mock me at the top of his voice at every possible occasion. At first I just ignored him completely. Other times I’ve had to settle for giving him a Look and biting my tongue as he lectures others on what is Goth and not Goth and reminds everyone how girly things are not Goth and Goth is about being badass and tough. He’s an explosively angry person who once ripped the sink out of the main hall’s building and threw it at someone, to give you some idea of what a ‘tough badass’ he is.
Hard as I try to ignore him and just scream into my plush turtle when I get home, recently he’s made that impossible. In the past week I’ve been shoved into a wall, had my groceries slapped out of my hands in my dorm hall, and he smashed my cookie dough ball necklace after pulling it off me, leaving a red welt where the chain had snapped. Just ignoring him is clearly no longer an option – however, due to the fact that I’m a 16 year old college freshman and he’s a 24 year old college senior, I fear the RA would favor him over me or think I’m making this up. It’s so much drama over such a small matter that I don’t know how to voice my concerns without appearing to be a whiny little kid. What should I do?
Jaylinn, go talk to your RA right now. He ripped a sink out of the main hall and threw it at someone? He’s acted aggressively and violently toward you? That is not someone “merely” being disagreeable, a jerk, or being dismissive of people who don’t share their opinions. That is someone who is a danger to other people, and the authorities at your school need to be alerted. Is there someone with more clout than the RA that you can talk to, perhaps campus security, whomever your RA reports to, your advisor, or one of your professors?
This is not “so much drama over such a small matter”, Jaylinn. Over the period of one week, he repeatedly physically assaulted you. Physical assault needs to be reported to campus security or the police, as soon as possible, every time. Corroboration, either from other people who’ve been subjected to this behavior from him, or who have witnessed him assaulting you or others, would be very important as well. These sorts of actions must be documented. If he believes that physical violence is okay because he disagrees with someone’s opinion, the Lady of the Manners does not want to think about what he would do if he really lost his temper. So please, do not feel you are overreacting or sounding whiny.
As to how to voice your concerns without sounding like a “whiny little kid”: nothing about your letter was whiny or childish sounding, but the Lady of the Manners feels that your strongest statements were in the final paragraph, where you outlined the assaults he’s already perpetrated. Go to whomever has the most authority to discipline or restrain this person, and explain the situation to them just as you did to the Lady of the Manners.
Good luck, and stay safe!
Dearest Lady Of The Manners,
Firstly, I must say that your site is most wonderful, and it is just lovely to see someone taking charge and helping some of the more troubled of the black clad masses.
I myself am an avid reader of this site, and it has given me some helpful advice in the past. However, I must trouble you to give me some advice on a matter that deeply troubles me. You see, I am engaged to a most caring gentleman, and for the most part he is simply charming to me. However, there is another side to him…
For a start, although most of the time he thinks I look good and tolerates my chosen style of fashion, there are a few things that he constantly goes on about if I dare wear them…such as a vest top with a corset front and back (Which I may add does NOT reveal anything inappropriate) in red and black…which every time I wear he refuses to walk down the street or even look at me.
Then, there’s the matter of me backcombing my hair. I do it – he laughs at me and says I look stupid and…..emo. Furthermore, if he thinks a skirt I wear is ‘too short’, he taunts me non stop all day saying I look tarty…even though it is perfectly fine for most other girls to wear this length of skirt.
Finally, and the matter that strikes me most deeply, is the matter of alcohol. He is anti-drink, so this means I have to be as well … otherwise World War 3 breaks out and he treats me like dirt for the next 2 weeks.
I deeply apologize for the length of this letter, and please could you advise me on what to do that could change his mind? I’ve tried getting him to try alcohol, but he flat out refuses…I don’t want to lose my fiancée to such a stupid cause though.
Oh … dear. The Lady of the Manners has read your letter over and over, and is still a bit unsure what to say. No, there isn’t anything you could do to change his mind. Not about his views on alcohol, and not about how he treats you when he doesn’t like how you look. It pains the Lady of the Manners to say this, but she doesn’t think that you and your fiancé are a good match for each other. It sounds like you do love each other, but that you also want to change each other. Yes, people in relationships do end up changing each other over the years, but going into a relationship (and especially a marriage) where there are things that you want to change completely about your partner usually ends … not well. Not always disastrously, mind you, but still not well. Relationships are about give and take, and about communication and happy compromises. Your partner disapproving of what you wear, or you trying to change his anti-drink stance are things that the Lady of the Manners suspects you’ll never reach a happy compromise about.
The advice the Lady of the Manners does have for you is for you and your fiancé to sit down and really talk about these issues. Yes, the talk will probably become heated and argumentative, but you need to talk about how his taunting or refusal to talk to you when you wear certain items is hurtful, and not something a loving partner should do. You also need to talk about how your attempts to convince him to try alcohol or to change his beliefs are also not things a loving partner should do, because they’re not. Nor is his “treating you like dirt for the next 2 weeks” when you do have a drink.
In short, you two need to talk about things, and see if you can reach an understanding about who you both are, and learn to accept each other’s different outlooks and opinions. And it’s better to have those sorts of long, possibly painful discussions now rather than after you’ve said your marriage vows.
Goodness, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners picked some of the more upsetting letters from the Gothic Charm School mailbox, didn’t she? But those are the sorts of letters that absolutely need answering, even if they do cause the Lady of the Manners to pace around and hold worried conversations with her stuffed vampire bunny.
What’s coming up next at Gothic Charm School? Oh, a review of Noxenlux Chapeau! Also, there has been a lot of mail asking for help finding gothy clothing, so the Lady of the Manners feels that perhaps it’s time for another column on fashion.
The Lady of the Manners is sure that all of you know how to contact Gothic Charm School, but here’s a hint: visit the “Correspondence” page that’s listed over there on the right side of the page …