I would like to thank Cindy Leigh for her comments on my post “Punk Goth Rock Star Faces Society. My response back got so long that I decided to make it a whole post. If you have not read the post you can find it here, as well as the comments from Cindy Leigh.
I think there are a lot of parents, grandparents and people in general with this same fear about clothing style. First of all I think that kids dress to express themselves in many different ways and for many different reasons. For some it is creativity, even art. For others the clothing is the wall they put up to kind of steer people away from looking inside of them, beyond the clothing; the clothing or the style is the defense or the protection and it serves a worthy purpose. Sometimes the way that a teenager dresses is even a cry for help or a cry to be seen as in need of help. For many it is simply the way they want to look. But this is not what I was getting at.
I try not to decide why kids dress the way they do and try not to pre-judge them for it because I have come to realize that other people defined me with their judgments and that did an incredible amount of damage. I had to learn how to think for myself and even what to think about myself when I was in my forties! I strive to meet people where they are at, and try to accept them however they present themselves. I find that this is empowering for teenagers, and they seem to trust me easily.
I myself used to be pretty “gothic” but I was nothing like my daughter. I dressed in a lot of black because I felt black. I felt hopeless. Black helped me hide. Black was a feeling for me. I was depressed, and my daughter isn’t. She is bright and happy. We have had a few conversations about these posts the past few days and she said that if she had to “label herself” which she never would, she would say that she is Punk with Emo influences. She corrected me that she is not Gothic at all. (oops) She is very clear that this is her clothing style and that she dresses the way she feels comfortable dressing. So you see even calling her Punk/Emo is a no no, because even that is labeling ~ which is defining! It gets complicated!
In our society, we good people talk so much about “reaching out with love…” but what does that mean? If we have already decided what is right and what is wrong, then we can actually do more damage when we reach out to others if we intend to eventually share our judgment. We react to “the looks” of people out of fear, but think about where that fear comes from. Think about where our judgments come from. They have their basis in fear, a fear that we have been taught.
My post was really not about Goth, Punk or Emo clothing. My post was really about acceptance. It was about letting my daughter be who she is, instead of who I think she should be or how I think she will be happier and safer if she looked different, because when I tell her that, I am actually telling her that her looks are wrong and bad, she feels like I am telling her SHE is wrong and bad.
My post was about trust and love and remembering what all the judgment that I lived with did to me. It was about how I came out from under the oppression of being told how to live, how to think and who to be, when no one ever looked at who I was or appreciated ME for me and how I had to learn all that as a grown woman with children of my own and how much of my life passed me by. My post was about trusting my children, and trusting myself as a parent and it was about empowering others to be who they are and celebrating the individuality that each of us has to offer the world.
Today I embrace my individuality, I celebrate who I am and know what my gifts are. I would like to pass this freedom and wholeness on so I celebrate each of my three children’s individuality and try to encourage them to find and embrace their gifts and their uniqueness.
And at the end of the day, we all like each other.