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From Girly-Girl to Glamorous Goth

Finding the Confidence To Be Your Authentic Self

By Katerina PetrouPublished 23 days ago 3 min read
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Nervously introducing myself to a group of teenage strangers, one girl in particular caught my eye. She was beautiful. Dressed in confidence with golden hair. Certainly, she was the most popular in her previous class. Being in her presence induced a sensation of inferiority within me due to our contrasting hierarchal positions.

It was our first day of college and I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life. One much brighter, I had hoped. The tutor grouped us like cattle and it was apparent that we were in the same herd. Polite and humble, I learnt through conversation that this girl was not as intimidating as she appeared to be.

Since that day, Jess and I have remained friends. Though her gentle heart has not altered over the years, her image certainly has. Admiring her growth of confidence and individuality, I asked Jess a few questions about this transformation of self-assurance and her passion for all things goth.

The way I would describe Jess's style at college is Y2K meets Barbie. Decorated in pink velour, she looked like she belonged in a dream house. Jess, on the other hand, describes her style as "very basic". She stated that she merely mimicked the appearance of other girls her age, as she feared standing out would put her in a vulnerable position and invite mockery. Confirming that she "definitely felt pressure to look a certain way", the pressures of adolescent acceptance are evident.

"I worried about this all of the time." When asked about how much time she spent concerned about her appearance, Jess validates that insecurity played a major role during her teenage years. Amongst a constant battle of comparison between herself and her female peers, she found the social competition to be a challenge for a teenager to navigate. Despite my early assumption that Jess knew just how beautiful she was, answering my question related to the confidence she possessed during her youth, she revealed that she "always felt very ugly".

The contrast between Jess's persona now compared to when I met her several years ago is one of day and night - quite literally! Adopting an interest in gothic culture, Jess grew her fascination from "the music, the films, the books". Additionally, her "deep love for vampires" encouraged the ignition of her sombre attire. Jess confides that she felt she was unable to express her passion for this due to concerns of unacceptance and judgment. She revealed, "this love for all things gothic has shown up when I finally feel confident enough to express it".

Jess's gothic transition was a slow one. With anxiety installed into her knowing that the appearance she desired to possess would attract negative public judgement. Beginning with "more emo" styling choices, Jess reveals that although her image transition was cautious when her visual transformation started taking shape, she finally felt like herself. She says, "as I began to embrace it, I loved it." Making alterations to her image using hair dye, piercings and tattoos, Jess reveals that these changes made her "feel amazing and so incredibly confident". Walking around her neighbourhood still fills her with nerves. However, Jess has learnt to embrace her unconventional image admitting, "now I love standing out and expressing myself."

During her dark transition, Jess publicly identified herself as a bisexual woman. I questioned whether releasing this hidden confession had allowed her to find the freedom to express herself fully. She solidifies that revealing her sexuality motivated her to become her "most authentic self". Furthermore, Jess answered with this, "It feels like a weight off my shoulder and has taken away a huge worry of mine of coming out to my friends and family."

It is not easy to come out to family. Especially traditional ones. In a conversation of weddings, Jess confessed to me that she wants to wear a black or red wedding dress. My question to her posed whether her ambitions and desires cause challenges when navigating being one's true and authentic self and pleasing loved ones. Confirming that her family would prefer to see her walk down the aisle wearing a white dress, Jess's mother has proven to be supportive and uplifting - telling her daughter to only do what makes her feel happy and to "focus on that". In a powerful statement, Jess said, "This is who I am and they love me for that."

Eventually finding the confidence to act on your instincts is not merely about the way that you look. This affects your mentality, the way you think about life and how you carry yourself within it. Once you own the power to be your authentic self, you begin to live your life differently.

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About the Creator

Katerina Petrou

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