On being gothy, Black, and beautiful

To hang out in the northeast gothic and industrial scene is to be treated to a fascinating paradox: the mix of lights, velvet, and vinyl with different cultures, languages, and skin colors. There have always been the diverse body types and the different groups intermingling, but the world of gothdam has also grown out its restrictions of pale whiteface and long, silky black locks. The old garde is no longer the power party; color is the new black.

However, we can’t let the truth get in the way of a good facade. Yes, there’s acceptance on so many levels, but what about the most shallow level of them all, beauty? Is gothic beauty an equal opportunity employer, or is it still keeping a great number of us out in the cold? I started to notice that there was, perhaps, a problem when I went to some scene events. There were photogs and people from Goth and Industrial magazines, TV shows, and designers flagging down pretty people, snapping pics left and right, and soliciting soundbites. I watched….and watched…and watched.

As I observed, I noted that I may as well have not been there. My ego was pricked; I brought the pretty, but I got the idea that it wasn’t the type of pretty that they were looking to appreciate. It didn’t make sense. Those who are acquainted with me and my club look know that I dress to the nines; at major events, I push the envelope even further and spend more time looking in the mirror, picking my outfit, and making sure that each and every thing on my body is ready for primetime. I’m in great shape. It’s taken me a long time to finally realize it, but I’m a beautiful woman, and I don’t mind showing that off. Yet, on those nights, I was given the distinct impression that all the primping didn’t matter worth a tinker’s damn.

These incidents happened about a year and a half to two years ago, and things have improved. I was part of a fashion show at QXT’s in Newark, NJ, and I’ve also been photographed during different happenings. These are all great, and are lots of fun. However, I still see a next-to-nothing chance that I’ll ever be doing print for fuckthemainstream.com or any of the other major scene fashion pacesetters. When I submit my pics, they seem to vanish. In a moment of whimsy, I submitted my pics to godsgirls.com, and one other project started by some ex-Suicide Girls. Imagine my shock and amazement when my stuff disappeared into the ether, as if I’d never pressed the “send” button. Odd, that, except not.

The iconoclasts of the scene- the girls on the cover of Gothic Beauty, the various Goth Girls/Bois, burlesque and gogo dancers…they are seldom women of color. In fact, I don’t even think there HAS been a woman of color on the cover of Gothic Beauty. I don’t even know if there’s ever been one IN there, for the matter. I don’t feel bitter about this, because it’s getting better. It’s turning around. It can’t stay the way that it always has, simply because there are too many gorgeous people out there existing in Technicolor for it not to.

There are a couple of people who I think are simply breathtaking creatures who get work, thank Goddess, but there needs to be change. There needs to be more brown people, dang it. There needs to be more Asian girls and Latin mamis. I also know that this is possible because of what I see in the mainstream culture. Babes, if I can work Fashion Week and see Black women with kinky hair and thick noses several deep in every damned show, then we can make it work here. Those people have a lot more money and risk involved with their product, and somehow they seem to make it happen. These changes happened in my lifetime, and there are changes in the few short years that I’ve been active in the scene.

I’m wondering, too, if it’s just that the photogs and editors don’t quite know what to do with people of color from an artistic standpoint. When I was thinking of doing SG, one of the photogs I spoke to brought up the fact that he was going to have to study up on lighting Black skin, because the light refraction and such was different than with Caucasian skin. I can tell you from experience that Photoshopping is a bloody treat; the Magic Stamp function never quite has the right shade of brown for every section, and it’s noticeable when the shade is just a bit off true. Makeup colors and shading is different, although much of Goth makeup is black, black, black and red. Ah, but try finding the right shade of red, with a blue, rather than yellow, base!

I suppose the whole issue is a slowly unraveling puzzle, a conundrum that the major publications have had to deal with for years and are just getting right today, in 2006. The scene in the northeast is truly a pleasure to participate in, and it always amazes me how accepting and tolerant people are. However, I’d like to see different shades of beautiful highlighted alongside the supposed alabaster ideal.



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~ by isiskali on November 28, 2006.

5 Responses to “On being gothy, Black, and beautiful”

  1. Its beautiful in here! I love your new blog place….

  2. Wow…I am speechless.. You took all my feelings/emotions and formed something so beautifully written! I am impressed and I couldn’t have said it better. Sadly, some places, magazines, and websites STILL haven’t changed….I honestly think that change scares them because it’s almost intimidating.

  3. It IS intimidating. There’s resistance to actually getting out of our collective Gothic depression into something more, well, in sync with the world. Could this resistance be a symptom of wanting to still be different? The Goth world is one of the few that really doesn’t advertise it’s diversity. Hell, even Ann Klein at the mall now has interracial couples in their ads. This is another way to keep our separatism, I think.

    Yet, I don’t think that it’s racism, per se. It’s more being misguided, perhaps.

  4. Very well written and insightful, Isis. I am not Goth however, as a woman of color, I am glad to see that you are taking an intelligent stance on the misrepresentation of people of color in the Goth universe. Do da damn thang, Girl!

    Zacandmax from CPMCoG

  5. […] On being beautiful, Black, and gothy […]

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