"The stranger you are, the better you have to be. That's why I have to be really good."- Larry Winget Thoughts and Observations
First of all, I will refrain from going off on just how much I adore Larry Winget. Essentially, he is a speaker who goes around the country teaching people how to excell in business and life. I learned about him by borrowing one of my Auntie's books and have been inspired by him ever since.
Yes, by now I am certain some of you have Googled him. And your thoughts are something along the lines of: "Wait... our frilly Lady Harra is being inspired by a guy who looks like he just stepped off of a Harley?! 0.o " YES. Because no matter what Subculture you come from, from the frilliest and cutest of Sweet Lolitas, to the Deathrocker Goths straight from the club, to Cosplayers, to anything. We are all like Mr. Winget here. You see, Mr. Winget is known for being a bit off-beat, and not caring what others have to say about it.
We could all learn from that. People are going to be unkind to us, and it's something we have to get used to. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry, but we don't live in a perfect world. Some of us live in countries and towns where people are very judgemental, and it's unfortunate.
However, there is another side to this coin (isn't there always?) While we can't care what people think of us, we have to care what people think of us. Doesn't make much sense, does it? Let me explain.
Let's say that a couple of Cosplayers decided to get together and have a luncheon in full costume. During this time, Person A is commuting to the lunch, and someone sneers at them. Person A has two choices:
a.) Ignore it and move on.
b.) Sneer back and say something potentially nasty.
If you're in this situation, you would probably want to choose option 'b', we all would. But you can't. It's very important you choose option 'a'. It is very important that you be the bigger person in this scenario.
Why, you ask? Because in a sense, we are the outsiders. And it is very important that we present a better image to the general public. If we don't, we're just going to assist ourselves in making our reputation worse and worse. People already have a low opinion on those who differ from them, the last thing we need is to go off making it worse.
My insane ranting aside, we need to be mannerly while out in our costumes, our fashions, and anything else we might be doing. Like it or not, you are an ambassador to the subculture community at large. If someone has a bad experience with a particularly surly-acting Goth, they're going to think that all Goths are surly, and treat us accordingly. Same with Cosplayers, same with Lolitas, same with anything else. However, if a person has a positive experience with one of the aforementioned types, they're going to have a positive opinion overall.
So, since this wouldn't be a proper post without my stereotypically-bolded tips, let's get this show on the road.
-SMILE! Not saying you have to have to look like you've been injected with Botox, but smile a little. If someone gives you an odd look, just give them a genuine smile, nod your head, and move on with your life. You don't have to go over to that person and be their best friend, just smile at them. Some people are genuinely afraid of us (can you believe it?) So smiling tends to disarm any fears.
-Be polite wherever you go. If you're ofering food at a restaurant, say "Please" and "Thank you", everything your guardians taught you as a kid should be minded. A little bit of politeness really goes a long way.
-Patience is key. Yes, we know that you've been asked if you're in a play about fifty times already. You've been asked that one before, but the person asking you? It's probably their first time seeing someone like you, and it's a brave step for them to approach us sometimes. (I'll be honest, I hate to think of myself as intimidating, but anyone in strange dress can be a little intimidating, whether we mean to or not. Heck, I'm always hesitant on complimenting people on their gauges, because I'm afraid they've heard it fifty-million times before.)
The results pay off very well, I've had many people ask me why I'm so dressed up. I always smile and say, "Thank you for noticing, but I'm not really dressed up, I just dress like this every day." People (especially the middle-to-older ladies) tend to love it.
-Being a doormat is NOT always the answer. While there are people who are genuine with their curiosity, interest, and questions, there are going to be others who will be trying to get a reaction out of you. There will be people who will try to annoy you, and mean you ill-intent. Don't get angry, instead, a little bit of snark will go a long way.
"Hey, Halloween is over, man!" ---> "Is it now? Why are you still in a mask?"
Now, that's a little snarkier than I would normally go, but you get the picture. It works wonders at times. Keep in mind, this response is usually only warrented when the person is clearly trying to get a reaction out of you.
Don't give them the luxury of seeing you upset. It's not worth it.
Flip-side of all of this? We need to be our best in another way. Recently, on EGL, there was a post about discrimination against Lolitas at work. I found the entire discussion rather fascinating, and one of the posters brought up Abby from NCIS. Abby is the stereotypical "Perky Goth", and she is brilliant. She can get away with her eccentric dress because she is that good. Were she not as smart, people would think very lowly of her because of her dress.
As Mr. Winget says: "The stranger you are, the better you have to be." Unfortunately, eccentricity is a privalage, not a right. You have to earn it through being the best you can be, particularly in places like academics and the workplace.
Fortunately for me, academics were alright a strong point. I've been the top of my class for as long as I remember. When I first moved to Arizona, I went to a completely new high school, and, this being a small, private religious academy, people didn't take as well to my eccentricities. Sometime in the middle of Sophomore year, people started to realize that I was... well... bright. I would assist in class discussions, help others with their homework, and pretty much do anything in my power to help the rest of the class succeed. I went from being the "Weird kid" to the "Eccentric genius", a trait that has carried on into college.
Unfortunately, if you're not mainstream, or have something that deviates you from the norm (be it chosen, like fashion, or uncontrollable, like disability), you have to be better than everyone else in your chosen field. You have to work towards some sort of talent to show that your differences only aid you, not hinder you. It is an unfortunate fact, but a true one nonetheless.
"The stranger you are, the better you have to be. That's why I have to be really good."
Strive to be better every day. No one else is going to be better for you, so you have to be the one to do it. It's hard, and sometimes you'll want to give up, but you mustn't! After all, you'll be able to smile triumphantly at those who brought you down once you're sucessful.