10 January 2023

Fashion’s obsession with the goth girl is all the rage – but is it as simple as ebony hair and a sullen stare?

Remember when asking ‘are you a goth?’ was funny? Yeah, you’re not giggling now. Fashion’s newest ‘It’ Girl is proving that the rise of the goths is nigh, and it's definitely no laughing matter.

The goth girl is back, and not in the form of an Edward Scissorhands getup, but as a high glamour vampiress with ebony locks and cheekbones that are as sharp as daggers. Think Siouxsie Sioux meets Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body, with a splash of Morticia Addams. 

The look is fashion’s newest obsession, being adapted by the ultimate cool girls for a feminist revamp – with the likes of Gabriette, Cindy Kimberley and Alexa Demie spearheading the trend. Celebs are even trading in their thick brows and wide-eyed selfies for a thinner alternative, or a completely bleached brow, but, it should be paired with an unruly stare and perfected head tilt for the ultimate energy overhaul. Take Kylie Jenner for example, everyone’s favourite basic baddie, who took to her Instagram to debut her dark updo and siren-style liner, accompanied by, of course, bleached brows.

The beauty trend behind the ‘goth girl’ did not arise until the discussions of eye contact came about, in which ‘siren’ eyes with winged liner took a hold of TikTok users last year. The look then perfected the allure behind the ‘triangle method’, where flitting between the eyes and the mouth was deemed a successful way to dominate your desired one. Then followed the brows, where 90s ultra-plucked and bleach only accentuated the eyes, meaning avoiding eye contact was nearly impossible. The beauty regime then extended from focusing on the eyes to trying the ‘red nail theory’ that took over TikTok in 2022, claiming the colour of nails makes you immediately attractive. The ‘doe vs siren eyes’ of Lily Rose-Depp became the new big thing, and masked intelligence as innocence, creating the ultimate femme fatale style beauty. All that was left was a slick painting of scarlet lipstick and the perfectly angled head tilt with eyes looking up. The new style of ‘goth girl’ was then born… no pale skin in sight.

Whilst ‘goth girl’ may be the new ‘it’ girl, the underlying shift in beauty sits on the pillars of dark, feminine energy, as pushed by TikTok. The energy isn’t just a fashion trend, it is a whole lifestyle being curated to harness your inner empowered self. Unlike other aesthetics that face claims of stemming from the male gaze, the goth meets dark energy hybrid is said to be based on rejection. The aesthetic includes a complete change in persona; from eye contact to boundary-setting, self-love to being a ‘bitch’. Many are using it as a tool for change, and as the year starts, the aesthetic is picking up traction to encourage us to completely reinvent ourselves.

But the waters in which the dark feminine goth sit, feel rather murky. It’s not simply a case of a ‘triangle method’ manipulation, and the claim that it is a complete rejection of the male gaze does not necessarily align with the way fashion has adapted the lifestyle. The guidance, predominantly given by TikTok, revolves around the mysterious allure of women to draw in men, or reshaping the malleable brain of an ex-fling to draw them back. But these pseudo-spiritual ideas that push magnetism within a single stare are being criticised as revolving completely around the male gaze, with the leather-clad dominatrix-esque trend reinforcing it.

The surface of dark, feminine energy is advertised as manipulation and ultimate seduction. But barring its criticisms, aspects of the lifestyle are actually moving towards the grounds of rejecting the male gaze. Take Julia Fox for example, who many credit with harnessing her dark, feminine energy by revealing her manifestation techniques for success and allure. Predecessors of the dark, feminine energy look hailed Lana Del Ray songs as their anthems, and any iconic femme fatale character (think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct) as their blueprint. The energy didn’t align itself with fashion until the trend of eye contact came about, and when married to the darker aesthetic, birthed the ‘goth girl’ we are obsessed with today.

As more and more influencers and TikTok users harness the advice of empowering dark, feminine energy, and adopt the subsequent goth girl aesthetic, perhaps it is time to question whether this is the start of the mega-independent woman in 2023. Musicians and models are breaking up with partners and staying single, not shying away from their darker side, but in fact reinforcing it with their fashion and art. The divine feminine may be the reigning force of this year, and with goth girls following closely, the branches of aesthetics are already forming. So, who’s ready to strap on a cobweb bikini for a goth girl summer?

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit Kylie Jenner's Instagram

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