An online protest has erupted in China after a woman was banned from getting on public transport because her goth-style makeup was “too frightening.”
Goths in China have been sharing selfies with the hashtag #ASelfieForTheGuangzhouMetro, in support of a woman who was stopped from boarding a train because she might “upset” other commuters. Since the incident in Guangzhou last Monday, more than 5,000 people have posted in solidarity.
According to the South China Morning Post, the harassed woman was wearing a long black dress, dark red lipstick, and purple eyeshadow when she was told her look was “problematic, too horrible” and asked to remove it. While she was hesitant at first to talk publicly about the incident, the woman later decided to post about it on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, where she goes by the username EIGA-In My Heart. “This is based on which country’s laws and regulations to stop me, delay my time,” she wrote. “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?”
The company who manages the subways has apologized, but it’s not the first-time China’s gothic lolita subculture has been targeted by public transport fashion police. Last November, another social media user claimed to have been stopped from entering the Guangzhou Metro Sports West Station, on the grounds they were “scaring” other passengers. Five months earlier, a group of girls was prevented from entering Dashi Station in Guangzhou, for wearing a “not particularly gorgeous” lolita skirt, they wrote.
Gothic lolita has gained traction in China ever since Tokyo’s Harajuku Girls became a global phenomenon in the mid-90s. Inspired by the British glam rock and Edwardian childrens’ costumes, gothic lolita’s aggressively feminine aesthetic is at sharp odds with mainstream China’s demure expectations of women. Internet has always been heavily censored in China, and authorities often crack down on subcultures deemed unacceptable, but that hasn’t stopped the online goth community rallying together for its black lipstick-loving brothers and sisters.