Eating disorders in the gothic community

Eating disorders in the gothic community

The media is obsessed with our shape and dieting extremes are splashed all over the tabloids. The spotlight is on weight, whether it’s the emaciated or the morbidly obese. Subcultures focus on breaking free of mainstream boundaries in favour of personal freedom. But, when it comes to weight, are subcultures subject to their own internal pressures? Has alternative culture escaped the madness?

We know that curves are beautiful, but are we still under pressure to achieve an ideal image? On an eating disorder site Lisa Arndt proposed the idea that eating disorders were prevalent in the gothic community. Men try to achieve the Brian Molko (Placebo) look, and women fare no better as both sexes are attempting to achieve the appearance of a walking cadaver.

Just because it’s not a pair of Calvin Klein’s you’re trying to slim into does not mean you don’t have an eating disorder. You could argue that our garments of choice may actually be more triggering after all they stock that floral dress in New Look from size 6-24 in all their branches but when it’s the last Omen top (or similar, insert favourite brand here) and it’s a size too small who doesn’t think about buying it anyway and slimming into it? Let’s face it skinny jeans are one trend that is sizest and it’s pretty tempting to diet if you try and squeeze yourself into latex. Even the corset comes under scrutiny; is it a girl’s best friend (men we’d like to see more of you try one on)? Or is it just another way to try and mould yourself into a more appealing form? Here I’m talking about tight lacing which when taken to extremes can result in miniscule waists, as small as 16″, as well as health risks such as difficulty breathing, deformity to the stomach and liver.

A plethora of research has been done on eating disorders in mainstream society and cross-culturally but there is little or none available on its impacts within Subcultures such as goth, punk or emo. Previous attempts have been made to link self-harm and violence to the darker subcultures but this is seen as a chicken and egg situation: did they self harm because they became goth, or did they already self-harm or have suicidal thoughts and merely identify with the gothic lifestyle? So there is no evidence to suggest any link with eating disorders but the point is that negative behaviours such as starving should not be put down as acting like ‘just another melodramatic goth’.

So does our unshakable non-conformist attitude protect us from eating disorders, after all we are oh so accepting of people’s differences. Or are we more vulnerable as we strive to be the pallid, skinny crypt keepers secretly trying to be gother-than-thou? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, with the sufferers as individual as you are, still it’s food for thought.

Article references:

  • Wikipedia:
  • Lisa Arndt:


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