Becoming Someone Else This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Carrie, Amanda and I headed for the mall. We talked about the same things we usually did, wentto most of the same stores, and walked around in the same manner we ordinarilydid. The only differences were our clothing and make-up.

We had becomegoths with simple adjustments to our appearance. Gothic, if you don't know it byname, is the mostly black, some red, chained garb that some people enjoy wearing.That day, Amanda was wearing a black skirt and top, black glasses, fishnets onher arms, striped knee socks and black shoes. Her hair was atop her head in twobuns. I wore a red plaid skirt, fishnet stockings on my legs and arms, knee-highblack lace-up boots, a black sweatshirt, headphones, and some of my hair waspink. I even wore a small red nose ring, which was undetectable fake. My eyeswere thickly lined, and Amanda and I both wore black lipstick. Carrie sported anincredibly short black skirt, ripped black stockings, a low-cut plaid jacket withblack fur trim, and a red sequined devil horn headband. We were all adorned inchokers, rings and multiple pairs of earrings.

When I looked in themirror at my house, my first thought was, I'm liking this look. Why don't I dresslike this more often? But I knew why - this outfit made me look like I wasbegging for attention. It was the clothing of a different group of people, agroup of which I would never be a part.

Entering the mall, we initiallynoticed only a few glances at our clothes. That was to be expected. Then therewas some laughing and pointing. At one point, a whole family watched us. Somepeople, including adults, stared rather obnoxiously. A middle-aged man stoppedbeside us and gave a quiet "You're looking good" whistle. It didn'tsound like a joke, it was rude - and serious. Our clothing made us seem lessrespectable.

As we walked through the mall, escalators full of peoplegawked at us. We found this rather funny most of the time, but once in a whileour mouths fell open in astonishment at some of the ruder reactions. Some salespeople treated us the same, but in other stores they seemed disgusted by ourattire. In a bookstore, Carrie asked for the poetry section. "It's in thecorner, in the back," he told her elusively. She looked, but found nopoetry.

Later, we returned to the store after we had taken off ourmake-up and dressed in our normal jeans and shirts. This time we began looking atjournals. An employee came over and showed us which journal was her favorite.After she left Carrie nudged me and said, "That guy at the register wasdefinitely checking us out."

"Where is the mysterysection?" Carrie asked. This time he said, "Oh, let me show you."He then politely took her to the section. Looking around, I noticed the store wasjust as busy as it had been before. Obviously, our clothing affected somepeoples' reactions to us.

At one point our gothic style had made amother steer her kids away from us, and another lady had walked by with a look ofutter disgust. As she passed, I heard a great, loathing sigh of disapproval. Onelady commented, "Isn't that weird?" Her older companion replied,"I think it's cute." That was the best comment we heard all day.

We even passed three young military men. There are stereotypes that gowith military men just as there are ones with goths. I expected the three to bestiff, but mostly respectful. That's why it surprised me when the man in themiddle coughed and muttered "hoes" as he looked at us, and the othertwo laughed.

When it came time to change, I looked one last time in themirror at an outfit I was beginning to enjoy, despite the comments. In some waysit was fun to get a rise out of people and see what they had to say. It amazed methat some seemed so mad when they had no idea who or what I reallywas.

Dressed in my usual clothing, I noticed an immediate change. I wasn'tanything to anyone anymore, just another teenager roaming the mall. I was lookingfor people to stare at me in my blue jeans, but they didn't. I was looking for awhisper, a sign of my existence in someone's eyes, good or bad, but there wasn'tany. One woman did stop and ask where a particular store was, and we politelytold her as we would have in our other clothing, though I'm sure we never wouldhave been asked dressed in our goth attire.

As we were leaving themall, I noticed a short, overweight man in a funny little poncho and almostwhispered to Amanda "Look over there," but I stopped myself as Irealized that he, too, had probably been followed by whispers and stares all day.

The moral of the story is heard many times, but I'll repeat it becausea lot of people don't get it: Don't judge people by the way they look. It's whatis on the inside, not the outside, that counts.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

ramfthomas4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm
This is spot on. Great writing on a great topic. Judging people by their clothes is ridiculous (unless their clothing broadcasts specific messages). There should be a study where people wear different "types" of clothes and see how they are treated. What if you dressed like you were from a conservative school? What if someone (probably a guy) went to the mall in Jewish attire? What about adding a tattoo, dyed hair, or lots of piercings to your normal outfit? What if (for the really brave)... (more »)
babigerl1194 said...
Mar. 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm
wow this is strikinggg and a well lesson learned.
Site Feedback