Why I am No Longer Gothic


Samantha McMullen
Arts & Reviews Editor

In High School, I was one of those girls with black, chipped nail polish and various strands of metal chains laced around layers of tutus. I was not a rebel or a vigilante, though I always wanted that Green Day song, “She’s a Rebel,” to be my theme song. Like any want-to-be rebel, I denied that I was Gothic. Instead I claimed to be “unique,” and that is something I think most people still strive for.

Every year in high school, my hair was a different color. The rebellion started freshman year, and not only was I the only one in my high school with striped tights, but I also had purple hair.

Sophomore year, my hair was “atomic red” and I took the main stage with rainbow socks and pleather skirts. Junior year, my hair was various shades of magenta and my corset collection had tripled. By senior year, my hair was ginger red and I graduated barefoot.

Now a second-year Art and Psychology double major at UC Santa Barbara, I look back at my high school self with envy. My wardrobe is filled with flowery hippie dresses, lace skirts and funky tights. I do still have my army boots, tutus and corsets, but it seems so much more inconvenient now to be Gothic.

My freshman year at UCSB, I found my natural hair color in the hair dye isle: “auburn.” I moved into a dorm and packed only the essentials: t-shirts, tank tops, and jeans—beach clothes. When I only had three or four classes per quarter and no job, my free time was spent studying at the beach so I figured, ‘Why should I bother getting all dolled up for one class when I will just be in my swim suit the rest of the day?’

As a college sophomore with two jobs and an average of 18 units per quarter, it still doesn’t seem feasible. Even though I am sure the mega cleavage that my corsets give me would be appreciated by my male colleagues, I do not think it really says “professional,” and as someone who hopes to graduate without an enormous amount of debt, keeping a job is important to me.

On this particular day, I find myself dressed in black high heels, skinny jeans, a rainbow scarf, plain blue shirt, and a fitted leather jacket. It would seem from a passerby that I am not Gothic, nor ever was. As I walk to my classes among throngs of Forever 21-dressed girls, I miss the uniqueness that high school provided an easy setting for. Back then we thought we had it rough, but for many of us, a part-time job and homework were less important than picking out our outfits for the next day.

I suppose college helped me grow up in that respect. I used to feel like I let my rebellious self down and that if my “high school self” saw me now she’d call my “current self” a sellout. But that’s not the case. Instead of needing to label myself with obvious visuals, I let my work, my art, and my writing speak for itself. I no longer need to delight in “being” anything—Gothic or otherwise.

Instead, I can dress sexy and comfortable without being asked if I was an escapee from the Renaissance Fair. I do not think anyone should feel they must change their clothes to be a different person in different situations. I just add a little bit of craziness to my outfits and let my name be the only thing I’ll have to own up to.