Working with a Goth?

If I had a dime for every time I heard, “You know, you look like/ remind me of that forensics girl on NCIS,” I would be a very rich woman. I am flattered the comparison, but I could see how I could easily be offended. I know the comparison is mainly made because we are both goth. I watch the show, and I am a fan of Abby. We both have a more upbeat personality, we both have a strange back log of random facts and trivia and we both work on computers. I think she is a smart and sweet character. Her child like optimism is something I can only hope to attain. We both have black hair and pale skin. We both wear a great deal of black. However, that is where the similarities start to fade. I haven worn my hair in pigtails in quite some time. While she does the dark lipstick and light eyes. I do the opposite. I wear dark eye make up and light lip gloss. Pauley Perrette (The actress behind the lab rat) is much taller and thinner than I am. Also, I dress much more business casual than she does. I may wear clunky boots from time to time, but I do not wear t-shirts, short skirts or spiked collars to work. Actually, some of that stuff doesn’t even fall into my off the clock style either. It is our subculture association that people link over most anything else.

Despite popular opinion, not all people in gothic subculture are Hot Topic prototype depressed teens. Actually you may even work with a few and not even know it. Before you say, “Wait no! I’m a Lawyer/Doctor/fill in prestigious profession here,” let me assure you that a darkly inclined person may in fact be among your ranks. Goth isn’t all about being dark, depressed and suicidal. There are many well adjusted adults in the subculture. They come from all walks of life. Sometimes they may be easier to spot than others, but rest assured the “Corporate Goth” movement is alive and well. Before you go on a witch hunt or start worrying about that guy in accounting with the ankh necklace you might want to take a deep breath and put some things in perspective.

Don’t believe the media hype. Take the television portrayals of “those gothy types,” to heart. If you actually take the time to get to know the person, you will quickly realize that nine times out of ten, they are nothing like the people on TV. Usually goths are portrayed as sick and evil individuals. We are the cultists on crime shows. We are people trapped in a fantasy world. We all believe we are vampires. We are all on drugs, smoke. We are all sexual deviants, and we all sleep around. Sure if you look at people in the sub culture, you will find people who possesses one or more of these traits. At the same time, you will find many others who are not like that. I actually avoid being active in my “local scene” because I am not comfortable in it. It is all about the clubs, and other things I am just not in to. However, I discovered a very different story in San Francisco. I was researching the scene there and I found a much more diverse collective of people. Even when I was out at the clubs, I never felt uncomfortable. I did not see the drug use and behaviors that drove me away from the Indianapolis scene. I’m not saying it isn’t there, but it isn’t as prominent.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t a “goth” dress code. It isn’t like if I decide to wear light blue I’m afraid I’ll get kicked out of the club. Just because that new girl in the customer service department shows up every day in a three piece suit doesn’t mean she isn’t one of us. First, goth is a heart issue. It isn’t the hair or the clothes that make you part of the subculture, it is part of your personality. It is a point of view, it is a perspective. It is how you see the world. It may be that she just doesn’t dress the part. It may be that they tone it down during the week and busts out the spiked collars on the weekends. In some jobs more than others, the mainstream professional look will never go out of style and it is not negotiable. They may still show their dark side in other more creative ways. She may never show “signs” of gothdom, but over time, as she gains credibility and respect, she may feel more comfortable about dressing a bit more out of the mainstream.

Try not to judge people purely on appearance. I know it’s hard. We are human, and that is just how we are programmed. Remember, their blue hair isn’t going to effect how well they do their job. The outside shell doesn’t really matter. Take the time to actually get to know the person. At minimum take a good look at their work. If their work is quality it shouldn’t matter how they look.

If you have questions, ask the person. Don’t let your preconceived notions keep you from getting to know a new co-worker. Remember, most goths are really rather friendly, or at civil. Most of us realize that because we do dress a little odd from time to time, we will attract attention. I know that people will judge me on my appearance and I that will have to defend my self and my work more than other people. I know that if I have to impress my superiors, or if I have a job interview, I will dress more mainstream professional. I know that my co-workers may have questions and preconceived notions. I can’t blame them for it. I can’t get upset. It just comes with the territory. Not too long ago I had a conversation with a co-worker about my faith. She had assumed that because I was goth, I worshiped Satan. I explained to her that Goth is not a religion. Goth are goths of all creeds, denominations, and belief systems. Yes some do worship Satan, some are Pagan, some are atheists, but some are Christian and Jewish too. She was afraid I would be angry and offended. How could I be? I knew that was a risk. I was just very glad she asked. If I can open the eyes of one person, maybe she can spread that knowledge to others.

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