Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alternative "Lifestyles"

So what contitutes a lifestyle?

The way in which a person or group lives: "the benefits of a healthy lifestyle".
way of life"

And what is a subculture?

A cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture."

I suppose my question then, now that we've defined our terms, is this: Can a subculture entail a lifestyle?

You see, I came across a lovely tumblr yesterday, Goth Confessions, and it has been explicitly stated that Goth is NOT a lifestyle. At all. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Which got me to wondering...why not?

Yes, I understand that watching nothing but horror films and old Elvira reruns is not necessarily Goth. Drinking tea from hand-painted skull mugs is not Goth. Decorating your house from front to back with black velvet drapes and wrought-iron furniture isn't Goth either. But that's only skimming the broadest definition of lifestyle.

A subculture, like Goth, can very much define the way a person lives. And Goth, which revolves around a particular music genre and the attitudes presented with it, can very much affect the way one lives their life. Each person's subsequent lifestyle is going to have some fluctuations, of course, but the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, the people you interact with and HOW you interact with them is all part of a lifestyle and for some of us, Goth is a rather big influence.

This is only one side of the coin, naturally, and there's plenty of speculation going the other way.

I want to draw on the example of the Lolita lifestyle. This "concept" is lauded quite proudly by many a Lolita who believe that their everday activities are an extension of the Lolita fashion. Many of them cite activities such as drinking tea, baking, sewing and embroidery, blogging, dressing up everyday, and basically indulging in all things cute, creepy-cute, historical, or whimsical.

However, you can enjoy sewing, baking, tea, and reblogging cupcake photos quite immensely and the only thing you wear are jeans and t-shirts. Does this mean you live a Lolita lifestyle though? Of course not! Lots of people enjoy these things and know absolutely nothing about the Lolita fashion.

And the same can likewise be said for Goth. You can enjoy many aspects of life that other Goths take great pleasure in without being a Goth, naturally. The key difference for me, is that these people who put forth the notion that they ARE living a subculturally related lifestyle, is that they relate their everyday activities to that subculture.

That's the only difference, but I do think it's a crucial one. If you feel that your subculture truly does affect every aspect of how you live your life, I will not tell you that don't have Lolita or Goth lifestyle. That's simply not my place.

And I'm not even going to get into the various different definitions of "lifestyle" - you've got sociological perspectives, anthropological perspectives, and so forth. So it's kind of futile to argue this too seriously.

To summarize my entire point: If you believe you are living a specific lifestyle, kudos to you. I won't deny you are or you aren't. That's your right!


  1. I wrote a huge post about this on my blog when they first posted that, you might find it interesting. I personally think the evidence they presented(insufficient as it was) not only bashed many Elder Goths and the way they live, but basically tore down the subculture to pretty much being a shallow dress up game.

    1. That's what I thought - it was reduced to a "just listen to the music and wear some black eyeliner. Presto Goth!"

      I know for a lot of people that Goth is a deeper thing than that.

  2. "The key difference for me, is that these people who put forth the notion that they ARE living a subculturally related lifestyle, is that they relate their everyday activities to that subculture."

    You have a point there. I suppose Goth can be a "style" of life rather than a "way" of life, so it's a more literal meaning of the word "lifestyle". I can't say for sure, but I get the feeling sometimes that people refuse to acknowledge subcultures as a "way" of life because it somehow separates /this/ kind of life from the regular kind of life. And that can get pretty isolating. And also a hassle, if people start expecting to refuse every-single-thing about normal life just to stay true to their alternate subculture.
    Maybe it would help to clarify that people can live normal lives just styled a little abnormally. Maybe it's a lifestyle depending on what the person thinks a 'lifestyle' is.
    Dunno, just musing aloud.