Building the Perfect Goth Girl

Goth girls are made, not born, and so in the interests of Athena developing that essential patina of removed disdainful alienation that will serve her well to mask her insecurities and neuroses through high school and college, we got her this little goth doll, whose name, if I recall correctly, is “Malice,” and is very much like what Barbie would have been had she been fed nothing but a diet of Anne Rice books and old tapes of Tones on Tail, Japan and Dali’s Car. Athena is delighted, although of course careful not to actually let any positive emotion about that fact show, as you can see from the photo above.

The pump was already primed. One of Athena’s favorite animated films is The Nightmare Before Christmas and her favorite holiday is Halloween; of her three favorite colors, two are black and purple (the other is pink. Give her time). And one of her favorite recent bands is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who are not goth, but as anyone who has checked out Karen O’s wardrobe knows, are definitely a step in the right direction. And: She likes spiders. Really, it’s like someone drew a map to Gothville and gave it to her.

You ask: But now how will you nurture the paradoxically passive-aggressive goth impulse, the one that claims to hate people yet dresses specifically to get attention? Well, you know. With love is how. Krissy has prepared the way with the complete sets of Rice’s Vampire and Mayflower Witches series; on my end I’ve got the complete Sandman collection, including the two stand-alone books about the Ankh-wearing gamine Death. Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow? Check. The recorded works of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, the Cure, Nine Inch Nails and The Misfits? Check. The Crow and The two Addams Family movies? Check and check. And we have at least one Edvard Munch print in the house. Believe me, we’re ready.

And what if Athena rejects goth? After all, she does currently have gymnastics class at the YMCA. Physical exercise is not very goth. And she also loves tuneage from They Might Be Giants and Cole Porter, neither of whom have a shred of gothiness to them. And while she adores The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (speaking of goth training films), she’s also very positive about Kim Possible and Spongebob Squarepants. And — perhaps the biggest strike against her incipient gothosity — she likes playing out in the sun. We have to accept the very real possibility that our darling child may give in to the pink side of her nature, the part that enjoys floral patterns and Easy Bake ovens and wandering around the house in a ballerina get-up.

And of course, the answer is: We’ll love her to bits anyway, because she’s our daughter and we want her to be happy — even if that means she actually, you know, shows that she’s happy. Goth girl, cheerleader, or anywhere inbetween, what we really want is for her to be herself. We’re happy to say she’s already that, and becoming more so every day we know her.