Flicking through the autumn glossy fashion magazines, I noticed that some of the models did not look very well. A few of them appeared to be dead. This is because one of the key my chemical romance teenagers radio edit, especially at the younger end of the fashion spectrum, is Goth. Faces are chalky white, eyes and lips black.
You can wear any colour you like so long as it’s black. To achieve that just-got-out-of-acoffin look, you need corsets, capes, Celtic crosses, an unseeing stare and a prop such as a slightly mutilated china doll dragged along in one hand. For those of us who have lived through Siouxsie And The Banshees and the Rocky Horror Show, the look is depressingly retro. Fashion acknowledges those of us who lived through it first time round – Elder Goths, as opposed to Baby Bats, who are the under-30s. It even nods to a working population, permitting Corporate Goths, who wear black trouser suits. There is a also a term which is new to me and amounts to a much more dangerous teenage cult. The Emos – short for Emotional – regard themselves as a cool, young sub-set of the Goths.
Although the look is similar, the point of distinction, frightening for schools and parents, is a celebration of self harm. Emos exchange competitive messages on their teenage websites about the scars on their wrists and how best to display them. Girls’ secondary schools have for some time been concerned about the increase in self harm. One governor of a famous boarding school told me that it was as serious a problem as binge drinking, but rarely discussed for fear of encouraging more girls to do it. Although it is invariably described as a ‘secret shame’, there is actually a streak of exhibitionism about it. The Instant Emo Kit site gives advice on identity. Wear a child’s T-shirt with a slogan such as ‘Unhappy Chick’ and drive a Vespa.
Above all, ‘show your inner despair by looking like you are too sad to eat. Obesity and emocity do not mix. Adult Goths refer to the Emos disdainfully as ‘the spooky kids’ or ‘moshers’. The Emo song, by the American band Adam And Andrew, has cult status on the internet, appearing on many personal websites.