Mainstream media has a diversity problem. We know this, and it is slowly (slowly) changing as more and more people speak up about it and start demanding change. ScarJo and her penchant for taking roles that are not for white cis women is a case in point, but the fact that public outcry made her change her mind just shows that we have power if we speak up about it.
You’d think then, that a section of society that’s all about “not fitting in” and subverting traditional beauty ideals would be pretty diverse, wouldn’t you?
Yeah, not so much.
It’s not surprising, but it is super disappointing. After realising that my social media feeds, particularly Instagram, were full of images of skinny, white, able-bodied goths, I decided to make an effort to diversify them.
There is an idea that to be a “true goth” you have to have super pale skin, have black hair, be slim AF and by default, be able bodied. Just so you know, we’re calling that out as racist and ableist to start. Okay so there’s leeway to be genderfluid in the goth community – boy goths, especially trad goths, can wear make up and look quite feminine without the bat of an eyelid. But, its still absolute bollocks. To be goth, you basically have to wear a lot of black, religious/occult symbols and be interested in the “darker” side of life. That’s what I’ve decided anyway… don’t @ me.
We’ve been force fed this ideal of beauty as if beauty is something objective. I mean, what? The ideal differs across the world and across time, so there’s no way there’s one right way to be beautiful. And as we’re part of the “alternative” subculture, we like looking at things that are different, so why are we accepting this ideal?
Okay, so I get that without having an “ideal” it feels kinda of like, how would you know what anything is? Like what’s a chair or a dog without an ideal version? But I think you just have to let go of that concept. Just go with the flow as much as you can. There’s a “definition” of goth but if you don’t fit in exactly, does that mean you’re not one? Exactly, it doesn’t.
Looking at the same type of person is freaking B O R I N G . And it makes you think that there’s only one way to be beautiful, which is bad for your brain. You see that person and think, well i’m not as pale as her, I’m not as skinny, cool, goth, etc. And it makes you feel like shite. So I think being able to see different forms of beauty means that you appreciate them more, compare yourself less and you love yourself for who are more.
It helps break down those ingrained ideas that you have of particular types of people too. One of the reasons that I love social media is that everyone has a voice – it means that someone can be a champion for something that they love, something that they see as important but that you might not have even considered before. It can only be a good thing.
Personally I think it’s super important to follow a range of people, especially if you’re a norm (i.e. cis white het able bodied etc) because it’s an opportunity to absorb these differing perspectives and experiences and learn how you might be able to use your privilege. I totally get it if you’re not ‘normative’ and you’d rather stick to people and accounts that reflect your values and curate something of a community that lifts you up. I love this piece by Harriet Williamson for the Metro where she explains how she curated her feed to reflect the things she loves and not just images of unattainable beauty ideals.
So How Have I Been Diversifying My Feed?
I recently went through the people I follow and basically just got rid of all the accounts I wasn’t really feeling any more. Soz not soz if you got culled. The algorithm is so heavy handed now that if I didn’t love the feed, I probably wasn’t going to see it anyway, so I just figured, what was the point?
I keep a quite diverse feed anyway, so I was following people like:
- Haleigh (you can see her Goth Life interview here) and Corinne of Babe Coven – fierce fat queer femmes that are freaking goals you have no idea omg. Babe Coven is such an awesome collective.
- Rain Dove – a beautiful non-binary being who is so open and so loving, if you don’t know them already you are in for an eye-opening, horizon-widening treat. They’re not particularly “alternative” in style but in terms of pure gender fluidity and mainstream fashion subversion, you will love them.
- Margot Meanie – a nerdy plus size babe with a killer sense of style. She’s the founder of #alternativecurves on insta, so if you’re looking for some plus size alternative fashion inspiration then you have to follow her.
- Yasmine Benoit – a black, asexual, alternative model, she’s not afraid to talk openly about her asexuality or the black creative community and she knows how to take a banging photo.
Definitely go and check out those guys if you can.
From there I decided to dive a little deeper and make an effort to diversify my feed further. I discovered the hashtag #alternativeblackgirl and #disabledgoth so I’ve started following them and I try and follow people I like the look of from there.
I’ve been paying attention to the people that the accounts I already follow were talking about or championing. Babe Coven recently put on a burlesque show (which looked incredible – if it wasn’t in America I would have totally been there) and there were so many awesome people performing. So, I went and followed a couple of them, with @luziferpriest being a stand out. And I’ve been trying to do similar things with other accounts too. In this vein I’m making it a priority to champion a diverse range of people on my blog and feeds too!
It’s definitely still a work in progress but I wanted to share with you what I’ve been doing! Please please tell me if you’ve been diversifying your feed and how it’s been going? If there are any accounts or hashtags that you think I should follow, then please leave a comment! I would love to know how you’re getting on with Twitter – who should I follow on there??!
Photos by Mark Garnett @Schrapnel_Works