It was a beautiful sunny day in July 2017. The cicadas were humming and the trees were dancing to the rhythm of the wind. But I was in my gloomy room in Richmond, Virginia listening to Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black as glistening droplets from my soul ruined my liquid eyeliner. I had been betrayed by a man that I had worn too many colors for. Soon, black became his successor in my heart. Black felt like the only color I could understand, so I submerged myself in it. I dedicated my wardrobe to darkness. I strolled through graveyards. And I burnt candles in the moonlight. I was entering my Goth Era.
Growing up Puerto Rican and Black American in the Southwest, I lived up to the standards of the modest Christian girl role I was given: I wore colorful church dresses and listened to Christian music. I was bonded by cultural and religious expectations of what makes a girl, especially a “good” girl. When I got sent away to live with a relative in Virginia for misbehaving one too many times, I started to drift away from Christianity. Instead, I found myself enticed by spiritual practices, some that were stolen from my ancestors. I discovered witchcraft, psychics, and tarot cards, mystical traditions that Christianity called “evil” but that I found thrill, comfort, and meaning in.
My family didn’t understand me. They thought I was trying to be a “white girl” because they didn’t see women of my race or ethnicity dressed in goth garbs. They would tell me I look like an old white woman and ask me if I’d ever wear color again. Despite their confusion, they never casted me out for wearing black, even if they didn’t entirely embrace it either.
Unlike them — and many of the people who stop and stare at me confusingly — I see beauty in darkness, I see reminders of the cyclical nature of life, and I see a tomorrow ahead of me. The contrast of black and white represents life itself: darkness and light, birth and death, joy and devastation. How can you appreciate one without the other? Being in my Goth Era makes me look at life from new perspectives. And in the oscuridad, there’s hope, beauty, and rebirth.
Want to learn how to join the dark side? Well you gon’ learn today. Here’s 5 ways I go back to black to achieve the goth aesthetic and lifestyle.
Dress as dark as the night, but don’t be scared of inviting a ghostly contrast.
If there was a gothic bible somewhere, I’m sure the first pages would say, “Thou must weareth black until the end of time.” Wearing black is key to being goth, but don’t be scared to contrast so parts of your outfit stand out more. Sometimes, I do a Victorian gothic style with everything black, including Victorian floral patterns. Other times, I’ll add some contrast, like wearing a black skirt or top with white lace trim or adding some color for a more pastel goth style.
Wear drop-dead gorgeous makeup.
Gothic makeup is known to be dark and lovely. First, I start off with black lipstick, preferring a high-quality black liquid matte. Sometimes, I like to add more contrast by putting a white lipstick on the middle of my black lips to blend together. Next, I do eyeshadow. I tend to do a smokey eye with black and silver gradients with really long eyelashes on the top, and sometimes on the bottom of my eyelids for a more dramatic effect. If I’m in the mood, I may add stickers to my forehead, like a pentagram or a cross, from Magic Markings. I then add a pop of color for blush on my cheeks and the tip of my nose because it makes me feel like a gothic doll. Lastly, I put in my colored contacts. Since I have naturally dark eyes, I like to switch it up with pink, blue, or red eyes.
Find accessories that are sharp as a knife.
Or find some accessories that are knives! One of my favorite parts about picking out an outfit is choosing the right accessories. From belts, to earrings, to headpieces, there are so many possibilities. It’s like the bow (sometimes literally) on top of the outfit. I like to go for graphic necklaces or earrings that make my outfit pop. Some of my accessories have illustrations of cats, knives, spiders, skulls, moons, and pentagrams, to name a few. Sometimes I also add a belt to my outfit, whether that be a waist belt in the shape of a bat or a belt that has dangling elements like crosses or ankhs. I love to hunt for my accessories at thrift stores, unique shops, and online platforms like Etsy. I also like to refer to my Pinterest board for new ideas and try to do an Internet scavenger hunt to find the items I saw and loved.
Style your hair bigger than life … or death.
Lately, I’ve been really vibing with big white wigs. I like that it contrasts with my mostly black outfits. I like to either tease my wig or dress it up in a really big beehive hairdo inspired by Winehouse. After I finish styling, I add lots of bows, flowers, clips, and headbands. I think of my wig as my huge crown and then I adorn it as such. It gives goth royalty. When I’m not wearing big bold styled wigs, sometimes I wear a simple lace front and add a graphic snapback, depending on the kind of look I’m going for.
Be yourself and be bold.
The most goth thing about me is how I live my life. I always do what feels natural to me. Someone always has something to say and I’ve learned that I can’t please everyone. Many people say I don’t listen to goth music enough so I don’t count as goth, but it doesn’t stop me from dressing the way I want to dress and being myself wholly. I say: just be yourself. There’s nothing wrong with embracing a killer style. Live your life the way that makes you happy and the people that truly vibe with you will be around, like the spirits from the grave beyond.