Exclusively for the Illamasqua blog, we have put together Empowered: This Is Me, a series of interviews with individuals who felt empowered to speak-up and tell their story after reading Illamasqua’s Anti-Fascism Pledge. Raw vegan & proud Goth, Goth in the Raw tells us her story below…
What did you think about Illamasqua’s recent Anti-Fascism pledge?
I literally sat at my computer, started clapping and a loud “YEESSS!” followed. While some brands sit quietly and idly by, Illamasqua has always stood for equality, diversity and fighting injustice. When Sophie Lancaster was tragically murdered, my heart shattered into a million pieces and like many others around the world, especially within the Goth community, I was devastated.
In response, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was created in her honour to stamp out prejudice, hatred & intolerance. Illamasqua has never backed down from standing up against those that try to strike fear and as an activist; I will also stand with a company that shares my beliefs.
Is there a particular part of our pledge, which resonates with you?
“We refuse to remain silent while extreme right-wing populism gains momentum… wherever it is happening.” Hatred in the heart of a person renders them a puppet on a string to a master. We see this now and this is what our parents, grandparents and ancestors experienced.
What we see is history repeating itself, with extreme right-wing populism trying to gain complete control. Make no mistake, we are not the same generation as before and we will not stop fighting because future generations are counting on us.
Have you ever been victimised personally?
Growing up, I knew that I was different. I faced victimisation from all directions.
I went to Catholic schools even though I was not Catholic, because the schools were close to where I grew up. I faced harassment from my classmates and teachers. I had bricks thrown at me; I was tripped up, called names and racial slurs and singled out during lunchtime.
This went on for years. It was literally what you see in movies when one kid is being bullied & picked on – utter torment.
Being from Nigeria, when I would travel back home to visit, I was faced with the “demon” slur because of how I dressed and what I liked. Being a Goth person of colour, I was faced with “You can’t be a Goth and black” from some in the Goth community and “You are trying to be white!” from some in the black community. Stereotypes are hurtful and destructive.
My experience has allowed me to rise above their ignorance. Acceptance and diversity has made great strides within both the Goth and black community, and while it is welcomed and long overdue, there is still a long way to go.
At Illamasqua we see beauty in everyone and everything. We believe in celebrating individuality, diversity and self-expression. Would you say this resonates with Goth In The Raw?
Absolutely! On a daily basis I celebrate my individuality and self-expression. This is also something that we need to teach our children every day.
No one should ever feel that they should have to hide who they are, feel bad or believe that they have to fall into a particular stereotype because of their skin colour, gender or beliefs. These three things are what make the world a wondrous place; without them the world would be devoid of beauty and riddled with cutouts.
Tell us about you…what spurred you to start Goth In The Raw?
I have been a part of the Goth and Alternative culture since I was young (I’m an 80’s baby). The first songs I heard were “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division and “A Forest” by The Cure, “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode and “Christine” by Siouxsie and The Banshees. As a musician and a poet, one thing that resonates with me is song lyrics. When something resonates with me, the connection is immediate. Goth culture has always been where I belong; artists like Bauhaus, Dead Can Dance, Sisters of Mercy, Alien Sex Fiend, Velvet Acid Christ, Depeche Mode, New Order, Nine Inch Nails, London After Midnight, Type O Negative, The Cult, David Bowie, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Rammstein, Blutengel, HIM….the list goes on. I also love art and fashion, especially the avant-garde and “out there” styles.
I became Vegan at 16 years old. Since then health has been a major passion of mine. With an artistic eye, I started creating dishes that represent me, dishes that are unique and an extension of my personality. It was actually my wonderful husband, Matthew who said I should start an Instagram page and share what I do. I did not know what I would call myself and he said, “Well, you are Goth…and a raw vegan. How about Goth In The Raw?” And the rest is history.
Vegans of all kinds exist, and I wish to be an example of this. We are not all the same in appearance but being vegan for the planet, the animals, for health, for ethical reasons or whatever it may be…we are a family. The love that I have received from the Goth community and people, in general, has been amazing! I have even been called “The Morticia Addams of the Vegan World” which I consider a major compliment. I get to show people the vegan world in my eyes.
If you could talk to everyone in the world for 5 minutes, what would you say?
I would tell them one thing that my grandfather said to me, that still resonates to this day; “You do not have the right to leave this earth until you have made a difference in this world. Be the one to change the course of the future and do not leave this world unknown.” We are all here with a purpose; whether it is giving the world greatness via arts, education, wellness, science, beauty and activism…we must share it. The world needs it more than ever now.
What is one thing you love about being you?
My resilience. I have always been the black sheep or the “strange one”. The one that is misunderstood because I am Goth, my taste in music, my love for the dark, the morbid, the odd and unknown. I have faced much adversity and obstacles, more than I can count, that have at times rendered me beaten or to the point of tears and wanting to give up. The universe reigns down challenges or “tests” – tests to make me stronger. As a mum of two, I know that I must be strong and an example for my children. I am a fighter. I also love a good challenge and I do not give up easily. I would say that I got this trait from my mum, and she is a walking example of resilience. Some would call it being stubborn, but I call it being a force not to be reckoned with.
What is your favourite raw vegan food?
Oh, dear…this is a tough question! I will most definitely say that I am a fruit bat. Just like my little ones who adore fruit just as much or more. They would tackle you for a pint of blackberries! Being vegan, I love all fruits and veggies, with a special place in my dark heart for the darker, rare and heirloom varieties. But I would say that my favourite food (or dish, rather) is my Raw Vegan KRAKEN Ink Pasta with ‘Roasted’ Tomatoes and Black Garlic drizzled with Truffle Oil and a little bit of Himalayan Lava Black Salt. It is decadent and art on a plate.
Do you have a favourite Illamasqua product?
Is this a trick question? I have pretty much every product that you have created. My latest obsession is