What To Do If Your Family Hates The Way You Dress

Hi Heather,

I’m going into seventh grade, and I’ve accepted the fact that I’m weird and I like dark colors and rain. I like to consider myself emo/goth, but my family doesn’t accept it. Some of them are very supportive, but other older family members don’t like the fact that I want to die my hair a wild color and wear chokers and they won’t let me do it. My friends accept me for who I am but my family doesn’t and it makes me feel like a bad person. They constantly bring me own and lower my self-confidence. I know that there are more important problems than mine, but I already feel bad about myself and my family against my choices isn’t helping. I’ve already tried to talk to them about it, but they never want to listen and they always either yell at me or change the subject. So what should I do? I want to embrace that I’m emo/goth, but my family won’t let me. Please help.


I’m sorry your family is acting this way! It sucks when the people you care about try to tear you down for no real reason at all, especially when it’s as important as how you identify. The truth is, you don’t need their approval to be emo, goth, or whatever you want to be – the only thing that matters is how that makes you feel, and what makes you happy. That said, I know that that line can sound corny and not really helpful at all. It’s normal to want acceptance and to want other people to be happy with what makes you happy, especially when it comes to your family. So, I totally get how you’re feeling.

Normally I would tell you to be honest with them and talk to them about how this makes you feel, but it sounds like you’ve been trying that, and it hasn’t been working. Unfortunately, while communication is the best way to address issues like these, it doesn’t always work – or at least it doesn’t always work right away. Keep trying to talk to them about this, and if they ignore you or cut you off, consider writing them a letter. Sometimes seeing things on paper can make a bigger impact, especially since it shows you went out of your way to do it. Be persistent. Every time they make a mean comment, say “I don’t like when you talk to me that way about this, it makes me feel really bad.” Maybe eventually they’ll listen.

Unfortunately, the next piece of advice I have isn’t easy: it’s to ignore them and keep doing your thing as much as possible. The fact of the matter is that you can’t change the way they think. If they don’t like these choices you’re making, there’s little you can do to force them to accept you. If you talk to them and they ignore you, you’re kind of left with no options except to ignore them and carry on with what makes you happy, or give in and act the way they want you to. And you shouldn’t have to do that second option ever! It’s really hard to look past what people say about you and just be you, but sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.

Instead of focusing on what the naysayers are saying and doing, focus on the people who accept you. You said that some members of your family are okay with you being emo/goth – that’s great! Focus on those people, along with the friends who love you for who you are. There are always going to be people who don’t agree with what you’re doing, and you just need to learn to push their voices away and just think about you. It’s actually a really important life lesson.

That said, maybe the older people who dislike the way you dress and act are also not letting you do these things. If it’s your parents not letting you wear what you want, etc., then you need to decide whether you can continue to rebel against them or if you have to listen to them. Unfortunately, some of us have to do the things our parents are forcing us to do until we get to an age where we can be who we want to be – it’s part of having parents sometimes. And sometimes you can ignore them, keep doing you, and let them think what they want. It’s tough, and it’s frustrating and upsetting, but you have to remind yourself constantly that their opinions don’t matter. If you’re happy being emo/goth, keep being emo/goth! Good luck.

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at heather@gurl.com


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