22 March 2006
By KRISTI GRAY
Fretting that your teenager is a Goth and destined for ruin? Fear not.
A British study shows they are more likely to become doctors, lawyers or architects.
Researchers at Sussex University say many Goths – identifiable by their white faces, heavy make-up, black hair, piercings and jewellery – are just middle-class youths opting for a rebellious stint.
Researcher Dr Dunja Brill said Goths were more likely to be bookworms than druggies.
"They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub-culture. It's a peaceful sub-culture. Drugs and anti-social behaviour do not play a big part," Brill said.
"Many parents start to worry because they think their children may be depressed or suicidal when they start wearing black, but this is not usually the case. Most teenagers carry on being Goths into their adult life, wearing toned-down clothes, having good jobs, a mortgage and children."
Christchurch student Michael Snook, 22, likes the shock factor in dressing as a Goth.
He is finishing a mathematics honours degree and plans a career in code-breaking in the Government.
For him, the clothes and the image are more important than the sub-culture, and he does not belong to any group.
Snook enjoys making his own clothes, having learnt sewing skills in his part-time job making swimming-pool covers.
Snook said most of the Goths he had met had similar backgrounds to his and he had not met one he did not consider intelligent.
The spotlight fell on the sub-culture after the murder of students and staff at Columbine High School in the United States in 1999. Reporters mentioned that the perpetrators followed the Goth culture, which they associated with satanism, violence, white supremacy and intolerance.
Evidence later showed the murderers were not Goths but had incorporated its symbolism into their image.
But many Goths write about being depressed. Literature shows some people turn to the sub-culture after having a hard time at school and feeling alienated.
Trainee furniture maker Kym Spinner, 18, whose Goth name is Onyx, said many of her friends were depressed and found life a bit of a drag.
"But being this way is not something you choose unless you're a poser," she said. "It's a head thing – a chemical imbalance."