Hello Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners has taken a break from being furniture for the new kittens of the Gothic Charm School household so she can answer some reader letters. This installment is going to be filled with letters from the younger readers of Gothic Charm School; as you may have guessed, many of the letters from younger readers ask to talk to their parents about being Goth. Now, the Lady of the Manners has talked about this before:
Not to mention there’s an entire chapter of the Gothic Charm School book devoted to that very question! But the Lady of the Manners is also aware that sometime very soon, she will need to write THE Gothic Charm School post about that topic.
However! Onwards, to letters from the younger Snarklings, yes! Starting with a letter from October:
question: greeting lady. my names october and im 12. ive been goth since i was 10 so im no baby bat all though its my nick name. not that it bothers me since im all ways the youngest in the group. but thats not the point. lady, i am adressed with a common problem that i can not fix. my moms fine with me being goth as long as i dont go to crazy with it but my family is saying im not it fells like they’re rejecting me. lady i seek out your help because you have given me the best advice in the past and i trust your judgement. i also have some other problems but i want to see how they play out before i ask for help.
october baby bat
So, your mother is fine with you being a Goth as long as you “don’t go crazy with it” (by which the Lady of the Manners assumes being particularly over-the-top in your wardrobe choices), but the rest of your family isn’t okay with it? The solution to this is right in front of you, October: talk to your mom. Yes, the Lady of the Manners is serious. Talk to your mother about how you feel that the rest of your family is rejecting you by disapproving of your gothy ways, and ask her if she has any suggestions for expressing that to them. Which brings the Lady of the Manners to another point: have you told your family members how their reaction to you makes you feel? Not in a foot-stamping, dramatic way, either, but just a statement of “Hey, when you treat me like that, it hurts and makes me feel rejected”? Because there is always the chance that your family doesn’t realize that you are taking their comments to heart. They also may not realize that Goth is something that truly interests you and makes you happy; once they know that (and that your mother is fine with your interests in the dark and spooky side of things), they may change how they treat you.
Forgive the Lady of the Manners, dear October, but something in your letter also caught her eye, and it ties into some comments the Lady of the Manners has seen on assorted social networking sites. You say that you’ve been Goth since you were 10, so you’re no baby bat. But you’re 12. The Lady of the Manners hates to be the one to slightly deflate your black glittery balloon, but in her eyes (and in the eyes of many other Goths), you are a baby bat. You see, “baby bat” doesn’t refer to how long someone has been interested in all things Goth, but the actual age of a person. To the Lady of the Manners (and again, many other Goths), “baby bat” is about someone’s age, and this is one instance where general society and the Goth world agree: if you’re under 18, you’re a youngster. (To be perfectly honest, the Lady of the Manners would say if you’re under 21, you’re a youngster and a baby bat.)
Being called a baby bat is not an insult. The Lady of the Manners uses it as a term of affection, and generally in the same sort tone as “Awww, kittens! Puppies! Little baby creatures who are indescribably cute!”. However, the Lady of the Manners also realizes that not every younger Goth wants to be reminded that to many they’re a kid, so tries to keep her squeeful exclamations of “Awww, babybat!” to herself. But please forgive her (and other older gothy types) if they don’t always manage to stifle such comments.
A Snarkling named Cheyenne asked about appropriate clothing for wearing around small children:
Dear Lady of Manners:
I am 16 years old and have been Gothically inclined since I was about 10. I will soon be in 11th grade, and I am starting a program where I will go to a school that offers career training courses w/ college credit half day, every school day. I am a HUGE fan of yours and I own the book 🙂 I am going to be in the Early Childhood Ed program to learn how to work in the Childcare fear because I love children. However, my mother and my Social Studies/consultant teacher Mrs Kremer have told me I must “tone down” my wardrobe so I don’t scare the children. I must “tone down” my makeup (Although I do tone it down for school by wearing bright red lipstick instead of black, cease from wearing small hats (i love small hats) and perhaps not wear my beloved ultra-poofy petticoat under a long skirt. I do not understand how this could scare small children, and I was wondering if you had some possible ideas of how I can tone it down so children are not frightened of me. My style is mostly Goth/punk/Victorian, but I occasionally wear bright-colored boho/hippie/gypsy-type clothing, which I think would maybe be more appropriate
Please, I need your help!!!
Personally, the Lady of the Manners thinks your wardrobe style sounds delightful — tiny hats and petticoats for all! Honestly, many small children are fascinated by people dressed like that, associating us with characters from books and cartoons. However, the Lady of the Manners can also understand why your mother and your consultant teacher have suggested that you need to tone things down. There’s a good chance you won’t only be dealing with the small children, but with their parents, as well. Should those parents be open-minded and accepting of a gothy-inclined childcare assistant? Of course they should. But sadly, some of them may not be, and it’s a sad truth that the people who are the least accepting of others’ differences are also the people who will complain and make as much of a stink about things as possible.
A more practical reason to tone down your wardrobe, though, is because working in childcare involves a lot of physical activity, and a high chance of chaos and mess. Ultra-poofy petticoats might catch on something, or get dragged through paint or dirt. (Or, depending on the size of the children you’ll be working with, an ultra-poofy petticoat may knock one of the kidlings over. Don’t laugh, the Lady of the Manners’ petticoats have accidentally buffeted and tipped over a couple of the tiny children she knows.) Tiny hats may not stay securely on your head, or may lose some of their decorations during games.
So. Yes, the Lady of the Manners does agree with your mother and your consultant teacher, to a degree. Mix in some of your brightly colored boho/hippie/gypsy -type pieces with your Goth Victorian finery, so perhaps you don’t look like someone off to a particularly formal Victorian funeral. Pull your hair back and secure it with some hair ties decorated with ribbons. Hairpins and small hats are things that could be plucked from your head by exuberant children. Forego your beloved petticoat, and instead wear skirts that will withstand games of tag and finger-painting. Think carefully about necklaces, dangling earrings, and decorative buttons, all of which can be yanked off, may have sharp edges or points, or may be a choking hazzard. In other words, think of it like a job, one where you need to make certain wardrobe concessions in order to succeed at it. The Lady of the Manners wishes you the best of luck with this Childcare career training program, and hopes that you have lots and lots of fun.
Charlie asks a question that, to be honest, the Lady of the Manners is a little surprised is still being bandied about:
If you shop at Hot Topic does that make you fake? I had heard that Hot Topic is for poseurs, so just wondering…
(Oh good heavens, little vampire fang ASCII art! Awwww!)
The last time the Lady of the Manners had peeked into a Hot Topic store, she didn’t see anything that struck her as particularly Goth, so she trundled over to their website, and discovered an entire section labeled “Old School Hot Topic”, full of gothy things. (Including, oh dear oh dear, multiple styles of those enormous-legged trousers covered in dangling chains, straps, and buckles, which make the Lady of the Manners shake her head and sigh “Really?”)
To answer your question, Charlie, no, shopping at Hot Topic is not for poseurs. Yes, Hot Topic (and other chain stores that dabble in dark-themed fashions and accessories) are often considered “starter Goth” places, in that someone can wander in, slap down a credit card, and wander out with a complete Goth “makeover” without any effort or thought. But many Goths know that Hot Topic and similar stores are useful for picking up basics Goth staples such as stripey tights, fishnets, and brightly-colored hair dyes. Also, for many Goths, Hot Topic is the only store near them that has anything that even slightly caters to the interests of the dark-at heart. Finally, Hot Topic, by virtue of it being a national mall chain, makes Goth a bit more … accessible. While Goth still is all about the strange and unusual, having places like Hot Topic make Goth seem less creepy and unsettling to non-Goths, which (the Lady of the Manners hopes!) will lead to less harassment and bullying of those who are interested in finding beauty and whimsy in dark and unexpected places. So no, shopping at Hot Topic doesn’t make you fake. Even if you may have to search very hard to find gothy items in amongst the My Little Pony shirts, sunglasses with “ironic” mustaches attached to them, or furry bear hats.
To finish things up, Arachne had a question about horror movies:
Dear Lady Of The Manners,
When ever I watch horror movies, I laugh ,even during the bloody parts.is that natural?
P.S I couldn’t think of anything to write instead of sincerly
Well if it isn’t natural, Arachne, then there is something wrong with the Lady of the Manners and many of her friends, because they’ve all been known to giggle their way through horror movies. Of course, the laughter can be for many different reasons. Sometimes, because the story, acting, or special effects are completely ludicrous, and deserving of mocking and ridicule. (This doesn’t make them any less entertaining, it just means they’re not perhaps doing what the movie makers had intended.) But sometimes horror movies move us to laughter because we feel uneasy and unsettled, and laughing is a normal nervous reaction.
Of course, then there’s always the fact that some gruesome horror movies make more sense if you view them as black comedies. (For instance, the Lady of the Manners firmly believes that is the only way to approach the movie or novel of American Psycho. A black comedy grimly lampooning society, with a blood-drenched punchline.) Not everyone shares these sorts of viewpoints, but they’re completely reasonable.
And sometimes some of us laugh at horror movies because there’s a part of us that roots for the monsters and the monstrous. We recognize that they’re frequently evil and wrong, but they’re also archetypical figures of power, so we laugh because, on some level, we sympathize with the “bad guys” and want them to triumph. (This would be one of the many reasons the Lady of the Manners is fascinated with vampire fiction.)
If you’re really worried about your laughing at the bloody parts of horror movies, then the Lady of the Manners wants to encourage you to find someone to talk to about your concerns, whether that be friends, a parent, or a sympathetic teacher.
Things that the Lady of the Manners keeps saying will happen in the future (and really will!): another trip to The Nocturnal House to talk about vampire books, a review of Spin Doctor clothing, and the long-promised write up of Wave Gothic Treffen by Marc 17. In the meantime, please read some of the previous posts here at Gothic Charm School, check out the Kickstarter page for the movie project the Lady of the Manners is involved with (more on that soon!), wander through the Gothic Charm School Tumblr, or perhaps send a letter of your own.