By Lauren Rearick
Goths in China — and around the world — are banding together in a social media show of support after one woman was reportedly prevented from riding the subway due to her choice of makeup.
In a post shared on the social media platform Weibo, a woman detailed the alleged incident that occured at a station in the city of Guangzhou, the Guardian reports. According to the woman, a member of subway security expressed concern that her “problematic” and “really horrible” gothic-inspired makeup could potentially upset other passengers.
After security contacted the subway’s manager, the woman, who has remained unidentified, says staff told her she was not allowed to ride until she cleaned off her makeup.
Sharing photos of her beauty look, which are posted on Sina News, she challenged the decision, writing, “As a Chinese citizen, I’m hoping to use this relatively public platform to challenge the authorities: What laws grant you the right to stop me and waste my time?”
She continued: “If you are able to cite one, I am willing to pay for a banner to hang at the subway station, which reads, ‘People wearing gothic lolita clothing are not allowed to ride subway.”
In response to the post, which has been shared more than 5,000 times on Weibo, goths from around the world started participating in a social media movement. Sharing selfies that showcase their individual gothic looks, users are hashtagging their photos with #ASelfieForTheGuangzhouMetro.
As part of the virtual protest, one Instagram user called for “the right to dress how we want” and another shared their hope for “Zero discrimination in Goth.” Twitter users expressed similar sentiments, writing, “Everyone should have the right to express themselves through fashion or makeup, however they see fit.”
Following the incident, the subway apologized and suspended an employee involved in the confrontation, the BBC reports.
As Sable Yong, digital beauty editor for Allure explains to MTV News, makeup policing is often dependent on a “community’s cultural attitudes towards cosmetics as a means of self-expression, as opposed to its traditional use as a tool for conforming to conventional beauty standards.”
“There’s always been a curiosity with beauty — how it’s done and its different techniques and artistry,” Yong added, and noted how in recent years, Internet-based platforms including YouTube, Instagram, and beauty blogs have led to a global change in attitude regarding the use of makeup. “Now that there’s so much more access to makeup tutorials by more diverse people, there’s just way more possibility and options for everyone on how beauty and makeup could fit into their lifestyles. Even goth makeup isn’t new so much as it is just becoming more visible and shared beyond its own insular social communities.”
This incident certainly isn’t the first time that reports have surfaced of makeup and appearance policing. Last year in Texas, a man was told to remove his makeup before he could enter a club, while makeup artist Patrick Starr revealed in 2017 that he was once required to clean his face of product for a job. And most recently, a restaurant employee from Montana said she was discriminated against as a trans woman after her manager forced her to remove her makeup, and later fired her despite her compliance.