Reams and reams are written by and for Goths on this subject, and the responses range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and then some. However, as most of us segued into our Gothing naturally and probably, gradually, sometimes the reactions and responses that our transitioning garnered may appear somewhat muted.
This is why I was particularly interested to hear recently about a social experiment conducted by writer Marie Southard Ospina
Who spent a day dressed and styled in several different alternative looks, and collated the reactions she received to them from both her nearest and dearest and total strangers. One of the looks Marie worked was Goth girl (circa 2007) as well as other looks including party chav and manic pixie dream girl.
So, how did shit go down?
Because Marie lives in the UK and states that she finds the area in which she lives to be fairly progressive and open minded where alt looks are concerned, she threw her net a little wider by creating an Ok Cupid profile for each of her looks, changing her photos each day to reflect her new persona. Marie’s full article as published in Bustle can be read here.
What could possibly go wrong..?
Marie’s go at the Goth look was inspired by her reflections on humanity’s biases against alt aesthetics and fashion, and she also notes that the 2007 death of Goth girl Sophie Lancaster affected her deeply and was something that caused her a lot of reflection.
Marie’s Goth look wasn’t exactly Marilyn Manson either, but could probably fairly be referred to as everyday Goth, or Goth light.
Reactions to the Goth look
Disappointingly, the reactions Marie received to her Goth look from people that knew her displayed some very classical stereotyped views, but the comments made by strangers were even harsher.
A friend that Marie knew from school said “I hate to say it, but if I saw you on the street and didn’t know you, I would be very worried for your mental and emotional stability,” while a couple of the comments garnered from Ok Cupid ranged from the pushy and inappropriately angry “What the hell is wrong with you? Some friendly advice, watch Skins and learn how to dress, or better yet, pick up an issue of Cosmo,” to the presumably well-meant but still rather insulting “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but can I help you somehow?” from a fellow woman.
What does this tell us?
Marie’s hopes at the beginning of her experiment were to find out that over the course of the last seven years (since the death of Sophie Lancaster made the news) that the general public as a whole might have become more open-minded and less judgemental about alt looks, but as Marie states, “the thing is, they really haven’t.”
Marie says that the Goth look (and the party chav look) were the styles that garnered the most widely ranged negative responses from people, accompanied by classical stereotyping of the laziest manner about both.
Marie ends her experiment by saying, “It seems once again that we are shallow, shallow creatures. We put people into boxes. We put ourselves into boxes. And my biggest worry is that this isn’t something that will ever change.”
However, despite Marie’s understandable disappointment in humanity as a whole, in my opinion, the learning process that Marie went through and the experiences that she gained by “walking in other people’s shoes” for a day at a time has caused a change, within herself, and provided her with a much deeper range of experience than she might otherwise have developed on a whole multitude of issues.
And if we cannot change the world at large, we can at least change our own perceptions, and contribute to society as a whole progressing and becoming more tolerant, one person at a time.
Food for thought!