Of Hair Color, Of Decorating One’s Room, And Of Skin Lightening (Oh Dear).

Finally, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners has been able to leave her Couch Of Plague and get back to being productive. And goodness, the letters you Snarklings have been sending in! Questions about hair color, home decor, and skin care, oh my!

A young lady named Amanda wrote to Gothic Charm School, fretting about her hair color:

I really want to dye my hair black, but the parentals wont let me. I sometimes get to dye it purple or dark pink or blue but noooo, not black!!! most of my friends have black hair, but my hair is BLONDE. i HATE blonde! I don’t think my parents know i’m goth, because they still buy me pink crap that they expect me to wear, and they still call me Mandy(NO ONE has called me Mandy since 2nd grade)! they still get me Hannah Montanah Crap, even tho i like Emillie Autumn and Eveanesance. AND i can’t wear makeup. help me please!!! my parents think i’m PREP!!!!!!

You are filled with woe that your parents won’t let you dye your hair black, but they will let you occasionally dye it purple, dark pink, or blue? Amanda, you silly, silly creature. There are swarms of gothlings who write to the Lady of the Manners to lament the fact that their parents won’t let them dabble in unnatural colors such as purple or dark pink. Rejoice in the fact that your parents are willing to let you experiment with crayon-colored hair, and experiment with it as much as they’ll let you.

As to coloring your blonde hair black: dear Snarkling, you don’t need black hair to be a Goth. No, really. Black hair is not flattering to everyone, and while wanting to look as much like a creature of the night is possible is always fun, a hair color that makes you look truly, unflatteringly corpse-like is … not so fun. Once you dye your hair black, it is nigh-impossible to remove the black dye if you change your mind. (It can be done, but it takes a lot of time, effort, money, and still may leave you with horribly damaged hair.) Also, blonde hair, while despised by yourself, can be quite lovely and striking. Blonde hair lends itself to ghostly, fey looks just as well as any other hair color.

Finally, regarding your concerns about your parents thinking you’re a prep, calling you Mandy, and ”still buying you Hannah Montana crap”. All of of these things lead the Lady of the Manners to guess that you are a younger Goth; your parents just may not have adjusted to the expression of your gothy tendencies. This is where the Lady of the Manners is going to ask what she always asks in these situations: have you spoken, calmly and seriously, to your parents about your wishes to not be called by a childhood nickname, that you don’t want Hannah Montana merchandise, or that you don’t consider yourself a prep? (Though honestly, the Lady of the Manners can’t imagine any parent that would allow their child to dye their hair blue or purple would consider that child a prep. Unless things have vastly changed in the past few years, preps don’t indulge in wildly-unnatural shades of hair.) Sit down and talk with them, Amanda, and see if you can get them to understand your point of view.

Patrica has a question about transforming her room into a gothy haven:

Dear Lady of the Manners
I must say that I love your book and have not failed to pick it up. But Every since I was born my mother has been decorating my room. My father is a “yes dear” man and never argues. I argued. in short; SHE’S LETTING ME DESIGN MY ROOM. one rule – walls cannont be black.
Im clueless.
Please Please help Lady of the Manners. How can I turn my mother’s gastly yellow room into my own personal gothic heaven?
With much love and little bats

Dearest Patricia, the Lady of the Manners is going to let you in on a little secret: every Goth goes through a stage where we think that painting a room black is a great idea. In truth, it isn’t. There’s spooky and elegant, and then there’s oppressive and not-at-all inviting; guess which side of that divide black walls falls on. So really, the Lady of the Manners agrees with your mother about the no black walls thing.

So what can you do? Well, decide what color you want instead of yellow. The Lady of the Manners’ personal preference would be for a pale pink, but understands that not everyone has embraced the Cupcake Goth aesthetic. A pale dove gray? Ivory? You probably want a mild, neutral-ish color for your walls, so that whatever you put on them doesn’t cause eye-searing clashing.

Yes, putting things on walls. Have you seen the dizzying array of vinyl wall decals that are available now? You could have the shadow of Nosferatu on your wall, a flock of bats, “carpe noctem” in elegant calligraphy, a murder of crows, or a coffin design that doubles as a chalkboard. (The Lady of the Manners may have to get one of those for herself!)

If, by chance, you don’t want to fiddle with vinyl wall decals, there is the time-honored tradition of having swags of interesting fabric hanging from your walls, framed posters and art, or a collage of post cards and images that strike your fancy. Or you could decide to take the time-consuming, but rewarding, route of painting stripes or stamping designs on your walls in contrasting colors.

Give some thought as to storage options: do you want stacks of plastic bins that you can drape with fabric to disguise their utilitarian nature? Or perhaps mismatched chests of drawers from thrift stores, given a new life with some careful coats of paint? Towers of hat boxes?

And of course, there are all sorts of styles and themes of bedding available for those of a gothy nature, though you probably will have better luck finding dark jewel tones and sumptuous velvets during the autumn and winter seasons.

In short, just because you can’t have black walls doesn’t mean you can’t create a cozy Gothic nest of your very own. Take a look at the home decor blogs and magazines out there, and re-imagine what they’re doing in your preferred color scheme.

Annecinda asks about a skin care question that other goths have pondered through the ages:

My dear Lady of the Manners,

My problem is you see, I wish to lighten my skin, however- my mother will not let me use anything chemical or harmful to the skin, and she does not fully approve of skin lightening in the first place.
What can I do, lady- is there a household product that is not skin-damaging that I might try?
Have you heard that potatoes might lighten skin?
And how can I get rid of freckles?
Please, I am desperate.

your faithful baby bat,

Oh, Annecinda. Yes, many Goths (including the Lady of the Manners) have tried all sorts of silly things to achieve a more ghostly pallor, but none of them really work. Plus, there’s that very important fact that one needn’t be pale as a lily to be a Goth! The gloomy parasol of the gothic subculture covers people of all skin colors, which is as it should be. (The Lady of the Manners will wait right here while people go re-read the Goths Of Color installment of Gothic Charm School. Yes, go re-read it.)

So no, dear Annecinda, the Lady of the Manners doesn’t really have any recommendations for skin lightening for you. However, the Lady of the Manners thinks it’s a very good idea for everyone to take care of their skin, and recommends the following basic steps:

– If you wear makeup, for heaven’s sake, don’t sleep in it! Wash off your makeup with a gentle cleanser.

– Sunblock. Wear sunblock. Yes, even during the winter. However, you might want to check the rating your sunblock has in the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen guide.

– Drink plenty of water.

Finally, do not agonize over your freckles. No, there isn’t anything you can do to get rid of them, and the Lady of the Manners is quite certain that while you may not like them, other people find them charming.

As for now, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go traipsing around the Internet to find more things to add to her tumblr queue, and perhaps indulge in some glittery black nail polish. Be sure to come back for the next installment of Gothic Charm School, where in the Lady of the Manners is gently admonished by a reader about the connotations of the “Satanist” label.

(Does the Lady of the Manners need to point out the handy Correspondence link? Well, it has become something of a tradition, hasn’t it?)

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