Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Goth Teens

Is your teenager Goth? If so, should you worry about it?

My daughter wears what some consider Goth clothing. She particularly likes Tripp pants. Though she doesn't usually wear completely dark clothing, there are days when her clothes are mostly black.

She has a friend who also likes the Goth look. In addition to the clothes, he wears his hair spiked. Since we live in a small city, the way he looks gets him noticed.

This friend has spent quite a bit of time at our house. He's easy to talk to and has a big heart. If there's projects to do around the house, like painting, he'll volunteer to help just because he enjoys my daughter's friendship. The more I get to know him, the more I like him.

I was talking about him to another parent recently. We got into the whole issue of clothing and what it says about a person. People are quick to judge others, and often won't take the time to get to know somebody who dresses different from the rest.

Teens in particular are judged harshly. When a teen dresses uniquely, often parents and teens alike make negative judgements. My daughter has been told she's satanic, even though most of her clothing comes from C28.com (a Christian clothing site geared towards teenagers.) A substitute teacher even told her that God doesn't like it that she dresses in dark colors.

I've been told that kids like my daughter and her friend lose when they wear these clothes because they miss meeting people who could turn out to be friends. Maybe that's true, but I'm not sure my daughter would get along all that well with kids who don't like her because of her Tripp pants.

The girls who are popular, and the ones who adults seem to like, are the ones who dress as sexually as possible. These are the ones some parents think my daughter should emulate.

I don't think so.

My daughter recently had to interview a community member whose contributions to our city made a big difference. I later met that woman. She was very impressed. She told me that my daughter had sent her a thank-you note and signed it "Dare to be different." This community member was so impressed by the thoughtful interview questions, my daughter's general attitude, and the note that she even called the school to let them know how pleased she was.

That attitude, dare to be different, is exactly what I hoped for in a child. I also hoped for a child with compassion, which she has in abundance.

I think the way she dresses demonstrates that she is comfortable with who she is. She might be called satanic, but it doesn't make her change. Instead she seeks those who understand and are comfortable with her.

Personally, I like her wardrobe. More than that, I love her courage to show the world who she is, her wisdom in knowing that true friends like her for herself. She could try to conform, to get along better by pretending to be what she's not.

Then again, she can just be herself. In this day and age, that takes courage.