A word about Insta-Goths, any of us who have spent any time in the Goth community anywhere in the world has seen them. One day they wander into the scene in jeans and a boring light t-shirt, not really caring about their appearance and the next time you see them a week later they are not just dressed more “gothicly,” or Goth-inspired, but worse they are dressed stereotypically, Halloween costume, Hollywood movie style “GOTH.”
Yes it is something of a compliment, in that for whatever reason we inspired them but it is also a parody of what we really are and not very much at all what they are… note the words Costume. This is our personal style choices, we aren’t wearing a costume, though like anyone else we might sometimes for events where costumes are part of it.
Of course like anyone else we might do up our look from time to time, which in our case is the UBER-GOTH look, for fun once in a while or a special event, go all out and have a blast. But really this is not different then a person who dresses in casual versions of “every-day” wear dressing up in an evening gown for a big party or a nicer version of their clothing for a dinner out. They are just giving their own style an Up-do so to speak and there is nothing phony about it any more than there is about a seriously gothic person who dresses “casual goth” for work and shopping dressing up for a night in the club or really dressing to the nines for a special event. I don’t expect anyone to always dress totally up or totally down all the time if they have any options.
Then we come to the Insta-Goths (who are no different in mentality to Insta-hippies, Insta-Ravers or Insta-Hipsters) these are the people who for whatever reason don’t want to be themselves and become their costume inspired ultra version of “us” over night. Hey most of us did not become US over night why should they, on the other hand many a long term Goth has at least one dirty little secret about something they did or wore as they were finding their personal style especially in the beginning.
I don’t mind someone wanting to “become Goth” because we inspire them, because they like our look as they saw it on us, or cause having spent time with some of us they think we are great people (they are usually right) or even just because they did a little research on a song they heard and were blown away by the look of the video. But it takes time to develop a real look, it takes time to develop a personal style and a newer version of your own persona even. Hell it just takes time to become who you are meant to be in life, we all hopefully change as we go through life, our own styles are like our art, they develop and change and they are inspired by the work of others but that does not mean that you rip off the art (look) of another completely or worse do a lousy instant imitation of what you think the artist was going for.
Personally I have gone through different phases of my development as a person and as a Goth and had variations on my own style inspired by people I knew or things I saw but all of them were from my own interpretations of what I saw and all of them evolved over a period of time then evolved on to something else.
While I have never been a Hippy I have been and still am inspired by the classier, more richly colored, Bohemian look. I am not industrial or cyber punk at all nor truly “glitter Goth” or Raver but I have added aspects once or twice to a look and admired bits and pieces of it for years and while I am not a full time aficionado of the steam-punk look (as I don’t enjoy the more physically structured items of Victorian clothes that you find there so much) I do love the look and work aspects of it into my personal look/style and actual art. Every once in a while I visit these “personas” and the styles that have inspired my over all look and adapt more or less of them to my look and then change it up with something else.
When I was really young I was wildly into Deathrock and I still love the music and the look or the fashions, for a while a few years ago I back-combed the hell out of my hair and had a great time with some amazing looks that I would of loved to have been able to get away with in high school (the 80s were harder for self expression in schools), I did not give it up this time because I did not like it, I gave it up because with the kind of hair I have it is not practical. I do understand that everyone who wishes they could dress a certain way can’t always do it, money, time, physicality and job requirements are just a few of the things that also shape what look we have at any given moment.
I am not insulted when someone is inspired by my style or the style of a friend, I like it, if they are willing to adapt it to themselves and who they are. I would sooner hang out with someone who is personally interesting wearing a gray t-shirt with a Smurf on it and a pair of blue jeans and old sneakers they are comfortable in who wants to LEARN about Goth and who might be interested in incorporating parts of it into their style than I would someone who one week is all t-shirt and jeans and the next is fully gothed out from any source, Hot Topic, Alchemy Gothic or Demonia, it does not matter. If you are treating it like a costume you can put on to hang with the “in crowd” for a bit then people will sense that not only are you not showing who you really are but you are probably not comfortable in your own skin.
If what you are wearing is not your own style at all, if you have not evolved into it over a bit of time or you do it all at once I have to wonder how comfortable you are with yourself that you needed to change everything about you, that doesn’t make me as interested in learning who you are inside as I might be if you did not dress up but seemed very comfortable with who you are.
That being said if the same person who I enjoyed hanging out with in a gray t and jeans were to show up the next week in say a black t with a cool gothy design that still pretty much reflects who they are and blue jeans I think it is cool, …especially if they are happy with it or even if they spend time asking people about what they wear and what inspired their looks it is a good thing, it shows they are inspired to learn not just copy or parody.
Then if the next time I see them they got a pair of black jeans to go with it…. well to me that is a logical progression, as you start to experience and enjoy a darker aesthetic it is only reasonable you want to reflect it in your look, but it is also reasonable you would do so bit by bit as the opportunity arises (everyone pretty much shops for pants someday, might as well get ones you now like.)
I love seeing people’s styles evolve, I like watching people find a darker look and adapting to themselves and their own style, I know some hipsters who have a pretty dark version of that look and some Goths who are inspired by the Boho/art hippy look. We are not all willowy people in perfect magazine Goth gear, part of what makes our look and our group so amazing is the fact that we all bring different aspects of cultures and personal concepts into it, both personality wise and clothing wise.
So if you know an Insta-Goth don’t just shun them, they will either give up on us completely which is sad or just try to “do“ the look harder and that is even sadder. Maybe try to give them a little of your time and even a little constructive criticism, “like yeah that coat is a good start, next one you get try a more structured fit and less buckles for day to day wear.” or “nice shirt, I saw one at _____ that you would look great in, it is a little less dressy but we all need different types of stuff right.” If they get easily offended you know they are not ready to be part of a group that people love to offend and maybe they just need a lot more time to develop a look then others. Like I said many an Insta-Goth years later have the dirty secret of their first attempt to dress up.