Skip to Content

What Makes Someone A Goth?

What Makes Someone A Goth?
Urban goth girl listening to her favourite music over her big headphones
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

What does being a goth mean to you? Is it something that you identify with or simply a fashion trend?

The term Goth was coined in the early 1980s by the media to describe a subculture of young people who dressed in black clothing, wore dark makeup, and listened to heavy metal music.

Goths are sometimes also associated with depression and loneliness and they also tend to be introverts and shy.

Although they don’t necessarily consider themselves to be depressed, they often suffer from low self-esteem and social anxiety.

We look at what a Goth is in closer detail in this article and what factors make someone a ‘goth’.

What Is A Goth?

A Goth is often a person who dresses in black clothes, wears dark makeup, listens to heavy metal music, and watches horror movies.

The word ‘Goth’ comes from Gothic architecture which is characterized by pointed arches and spires. It is said that the first Goths were the inhabitants of medieval Europe.

They were considered to be very religious and believed in witchcraft and sorcery.

In the early 1980s, the media started using the term “Goth” to refer to a subculture of young adults who dressed in black clothing and listened to heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Venom.

In the 1990s, the term became more popular among teenagers and Goth culture began to spread around the world.

Today, many people associate the word “Goth’ with depression and loneliness.

Characteristics Of A Goth

goth woman laying down on asphalt and photographed from above

What makes someone a Goth? Goths have been around for centuries, but their popularity has grown over the past few decades.

They can often be recognized by wearing dark-colored clothes, dying their hair black, and wearing heavy jewelry.

Although some Goths are into death metal, most prefer alternative rock or indie pop.

The majority of them listen to bands such as Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Alice Cooper, and Depeche Mode.

That being said, Goth music comes in a wide variety of genres and there is a thing such as Goth Pop and Folk. 

A person might also be called a Goth if he/she likes horror movies, listens to classical music, reads poetry, watches scary films, plays video games, or enjoys watching anime.

Some people believe that being a Goth means having an obsession with death.

However, this isn’t true. Instead, it means liking things that are gloomy, depressing, morbid, and macabre. 

They do not worship Satan as some people often think and they are not part of a cult, instead, they are a part of a collective community with similar interests.

They can be located all over the world and come from a variety of circumstances and ethnicities. The Goth culture is huge in Germany, Japan, and the UK, as well as constantly growing in the USA.

These characteristics however have been criticized by the Goth community as they prefer to be described as someone who finds beauty in things others might consider dark, instead of being defined by a dark and unhappy person.

Instead of being dark people, they might have dark humor, and dark things are just usually what make them happy and inspire them.

Do All Goths Wear Black?

 a group of witches or Goths in black clothes and hats go down the street

Goths are realists and they are known for being romantic and intelligent. It is not about how one dresses but is about what they are interested in and how they create a community.

Most information surrounding the Goth movement was born out of the Punk movement in the latter half of the 70s, and this was what described most Goths wearing black.

However, there is not a color code to fashion when it comes to being a Goth and they don’t always wear black, even though this is how most people picture the community. 

Although not all Goths wear black, the stereotype does not stem from the air and there are still a large majority of goths who enjoy wearing black.

Moreover, most of them are not happy unless they are dressed up with lots of makeup and accessories, as they love to be different from everyone else and stand out from the crowd. 

Both male and female goths wear dark eyeliner and dark nail polish and like to get creative with accessories such as silver jewelry.

Gothic fashion includes everything from Victorian dresses to steampunk.

Common outfits include black leather and PVC, black and red fishnets, crimped or spiky hair, black lace, brothel creepers, long black cloaks, and so much more.

The style of a Goth is often described as eerie, mysterious, and exotic.

Sometimes, their fashion is described as morbid and can include black period-style clothing and it can express pagan, occult, or religious imagery. 

Goth Literature

While Gothic literature was popular in the early 1800s, it did not become a cultural phenomenon until the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Goths have embraced Vampire literature in the 19th century, and this has stemmed from the American literary influence on the gothic scene by Anne Rice. Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’, included characters who were depicted as self-tormentors struggling with alienation and loneliness. 

The characters depicted a surreal world and the Chronicles unintentionally paved the way to goth attitudes.

Their romance and erotic appeal interested goth readers, and in the 1980s and 1990s, they became popular in the community.

The vampire theme continued when Poppy Z. Brite released Lost Souls in October 1992.

World Goth Day

a black and white portrait of a goth girl

May 22 is known as World Goth Day, which was created by BBC 6 Music in 2009.

Events such as the Whitby Goth Weekend rose in popularity and like-minded Goths can gather together online to celebrate the movement.

It is an excuse to celebrate Goth culture year after year.

Final Thoughts 

We hope after reading this article you have learned a little more about what makes someone a Goth and how to identify a Goth.

Although Goths are stereotyped as being depressive souls who only wear black, there is a lot more to them than we may first think.

They are individuals who belong to a community that finds interest in all things dark, and these dark things are not what makes them so sad, but are actually what makes them so happy.