By Aimee Braniff Cree
THIS GEN-Z woman insists she now feels more confident in her own skin since becoming a goth despite the fact people now spit at her, touch her without consent and laugh in her face in the street.
Vaness Lais (24), a content creator and designer from Rottenburg, Germany, grew up in a small town and had never seen a goth before she was 13, never mind considering being one.
She had always been interested in dark culture, especially Halloween, when as a child she would take any opportunity she could get to dress up and be spooky.
As a child Vanessa was bullied.
“I was always the weird kid that never fit in and never had normal interests, I was obsessed with fantasy and sci-fi books and movies and in general just a huge geek,” said Vanessa.
“They would make fun of me for no reason, call me names, make mean comments about my body (I used to be overweight) or my clothes, very often they took my stuff and destroyed it, even drawings I made.
“I was always the one nobody would want to work with, the one that never got picked, it had a really bad influence on my mental health and also made me skip school sometimes.”
The effect of the torment took its toll on her confidence. She insists it is only through the gothic subculture and finding the right way to express herself that Vanessa found the confidence to be who she truly is and show that to the world.
Online, since setting up her Instagram account to document her life, she has received mixed reviews from her followers.
While in real life, some strangers compliment her incredible makeup skills or sewing ability, while others have laughed at her and even spat on her in the street.
She says, the judgement of others is not what matters to her, but it was the lack of judgement in the gothic subculture that got her interested in the first place.
“I get a lot of unnecessary hate, I have been spat on, have been touched without consent (my hair or accessories mostly) or most of the time when I go outside have people yell at me, take my pictures without consent or laugh at me, ” said Vanessa.
“But what appeals to me about goth styling is that you can truly be yourself, express yourself in a creative way completely free of judgement.
“Of course there is also the overall dark and spooky aesthetic that I see a lot of beauty in.
“Everyone has a different perception of beauty anyways and to me it is art, it’s not supposed to be conventionally beautiful. It only has to be beautiful to me.
“I was always very creative and loved dark and spooky stuff and holidays like Halloween when I was a kid.
“I loved to dress up any opportunity I could get.
“When I got older and started listening to the music I found out about the substyles within goth subculture, got introduced to the makeup and fashion as well and slowly connected to what I liked the most.
“I loved that I could express myself the way I am free of judgement.”
Before her transformation Vanessa was lacking in self-esteem and confidence.
“I didn’t feel good about myself, I had no self-esteem and very low confidence,” she said.
“I was being bullied really badly as a kid and did not have many friends, I didn’t feel like myself at all and was always forced to be someone different just to fit in.
“When I was about 15 years old, I slowly started getting into the goth lifestyle.
“It happened slowly over years, I collected makeup, clothing, accessories, hair dye and piercings.
“I also bought a lot of second hand pieces or made them myself. In general, I don’t think I own that much stuff compared to other girls that follow mainstream trends, probably even less.
“It’s just items in different styles than most other people.”
Despite her very alternative look, it does not take Vanessa forever to get ready, she says it probably takes her less time than someone with a mainstream look.
“To get ready I can take between 15 minutes and a few hours, it depends on what I want to wear and if I’m going to wear makeup. Usually it takes about an hour,” said Vanessa.
“To get to the point where I am now with my style it took me a few years, to this day my style changes a bit every now and then because I love to try new stuff, hair colours, different styles and makeup.
“My style evolves and I guess the most polarising part of it would be my hair and piercings, it’s pretty much like that some people love it and some people don’t.”
Vanessa has received the full array of reactions to her look even from family and friends.
“I get many compliments, especially for my makeup skills, people that have known me for a long time see that I’m a lot more happy than I used to be,” she said.
“They also love my creativity and makeup and sewing skills.
“It’s not so much about the comment itself but more who gave it to me. I love when old people give me compliments about how they like my style and wished they could dress like this when they were younger.
“I also love younger people taking inspiration from me and looking up to me in a way.
“I often expect the most mainstream girls (or guys) to hate on me, but if a girl with the absolute opposite aesthetic to mine compliments me and simply appreciates the art and skill that it takes, that really means a lot to me.
“I am the same with other people, but often I am afraid to give compliments because I have gotten hate back before.
“My family had very mixed feelings. At the beginning they struggled with it, most didn’t like my piercings, hair or heavy makeup.
“Especially my mum didn’t like it, she had many prejudices that went away after she got to know more about the subculture, more of my friends from the subculture and in general the longer I’ve been a part of it they noticed it’s not a bad thing.
“Many don’t like my piercings for example but that’s okay with me, they don’t have to. It doesn’t change the fact that they love and support me as a person.
“In general they have mostly been very supportive of it and many see my appearance as a form of art.
“Most of my friends are part of the subculture themselves, or alternative in some way.
“They love my style. Even older friends of mine that I’ve known since I was five years old or my non-alternative friends love my creativity even if it’s not their style at all.
“They often ask me for makeup tips or for me to do their hair.”
Vanessa did a lot of research to find the subculture she felt she most belonged in and she recommends others do the same before immersing themself in the gothic subculture.
“Research about the bands and history as it is most important, ask elder goths and anyone who has an actual connection to the subculture for a longer time,”said Vanessa.
“They are always happy to help and give you tips or music recommendations and styling and try to find someone to introduce you to the local goth scene, at a goth party or club for example.
“You also don’t need branded items to dress goth, you can start off with simple black clothes and invest in some accessories at the beginning.
“Most of us that have cool or expensive items collected them over years and in the end the beginnings of goth fashion was all about DIY.
“There are many good tutorials online.
“Just be yourself and don’t let the hate get to you.”