Kardashianization is a mighty long word, but I think it describes perfectly what has been happening within the last few years in the goth subculture. Unreal beauty standards, that are normal in ‘mainstream’ society, have wormed their way into the goth subculture. I think that has always been on the back burner, but lately it really feels like things have ramped up since everybody wants to call themselves a ‘goth’ these days.
Before the advent of the internet taking photos of yourself wasn’t really a thing. Friends would take photos of you, clubs would take photos of you, but would you take photos of yourself? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, there would be attention seekers in goth/alternative clubs who would always get their photos taken, but they were in the minority and usually thought of as uber goobers. I only have a few photos of myself from the 80’s and 90’s because I personally avoided people with cameras and I am okay with that. My hair was a mess most of the time and nobody needs to see that.
I have nothing against taking selfies of yourself, but what I do have a problem with are the people who manipulate their selfies to such a degree that it pushes an unrealistic standard of beauty. That is why I call this phenomenon the Kardashianization of the subculture, because younglings are doing the exact same thing as the Kardashians; posting photos of themselves that depict a fantasy rather than a reality. They create a ‘goth’ image of themselves that they think others will approve of, a judgement that will make them a ‘true goth’. I wish I was kidding about this, but I’m not.
Notice how this has nothing to do with the music of the goth subculture? They are basing their whole identity off of a dark aesthetic while listening to bands that are in no way goth at all. There is nothing the matter with loving different genres of music, but if you don’t like or listen to any actual goth music you aren’t a goth. An aesthetic does not a goth make.
For whatever reason many of these younglings are calling themselves ‘trad goths’. In their selfies they will have backcombed hair, Siouxsie clone make-up and at least one article of clothing that is fishnet in nature. To be included in their ranks you have to look like one another because that is how goths looked in the 80’s/90’s of course! Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s most of us didn’t look like that. I only ever saw that look at clubs, and it wasn’t done by a large amount of people. The most onerous aspect to all of this is that they will quite frequently lighten their face and blur it so much that their skin looks unreal, not a pore or realistic shadow to be seen. Again, how is this any different than what the Kardashians do on a regular basis?
Where do these younglings get these ideas from? The mainstream reporting of certain celebrities being goth because of them wearing black lipstick certainly doesn’t help at all. Many younglings think that they are automatically goth if they dress in black, not understanding that the subculture has always been centred upon the music. Material consumption is something that is encouraged in our society in general and these people buy into it and spend a ton of money to look like something that they really are not; a goth.
Don’t like being compared to the Kardashians? Then stop basing your identity on manipulated photos and how others perceive you. What you are doing is in no way original and the only people who will take you at all seriously will be the other people who also don’t know what they are on about. It’s a huge perpetuating circle jerk. This behaviour is in no way unique, in no way different as to how ‘normal’ society behaves and yet they will endlessly bitch and moan about how society sucks and how ‘normies’ are boring. All the while exhibiting the same exact behaviour as the people they supposedly dislike. What they are doing is not any different just because they are dressed in black and are wearing black lipstick.
When I see heavily manipulated photos in online goth communities I call them out because the only way this is ever going to change is if people speak out about it and challenge this behaviour. There are younglings out there that love goth music and yet they think they can’t be goth because they don’t look like said photos; they don’t have perfect white skin and they don’t have the money to buy clothes from a dark clothing site. I find this sad as all hell because the poseurs and wannabes who perpetuate this crap are stopping actual goth music fans from joining the subculture; blocking their way into it by means of selfie blurring tools and mum and dad’s money.
Instead of spending countless hours retouching and blurring the crap out of your selfies why not sit down and listen to some actual goth music. Don’t like being compared to vacuous ‘celebrities’ who have no discernable talent? Then be yourself instead of jumping on the goth train without paying your fare.