Guangzhou subway picks fight with Chinese goth, because ‘horrifying’

Society & Culture

As a subculture that’s established itself as kind of a permanent outlier, goth is inherently at odds with the Chinese mainstream culture of constantly “blending in.” Long in the dark side of the public consciousness, China’s goth community (if there is one) recently found itself at the center of attention after a woman in full gothic attire was barred from taking the subway in Guangzhou because of her “horrifying” look.

According to the disgruntled goth (in Chinese), the incident happened on March 10 at a subway station in Guangzhou. When going through a security check, the woman was stopped by a subway staff member who asked her to remove her makeup because it was “problematic and horrifying.” The woman claimed that she didn’t possess any banned items and the rejection of entry was simply because of her look. Baffled and infuriated, she took to Weibo to complain about the unhappy encounter.

“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 wrote. “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.’”

pNsw hufnxfn4253717

The woman also included two photos of the makeup she wore on that day in the post. Featuring dramatic eyeshadow and lips in dark berry shade, the makeup is clearly goth-inspired, but it’s far from what the subway employee described as “horrifying.”


The post quickly gained traction online (in Chinese) with Weibo users hotly debating whether Guangzhou subway had any grounds to deny the woman’s entry because of her gothic aesthetic. Those who stand on the woman’s side argued that subway passengers are entitled to dress however they like as long as they don’t harm or threaten others, and that what the Guangzhou subway did to the woman exemplified abuse of power. Meanwhile, commenters who disapproved of the woman’s style claimed that goth and its dark nature are too provocative for children and old people.

In response, the official Weibo account of Guangzhou subway delivered a half-hearted apology to the woman, saying that they were “sorry for the inconvenience” and had alerted relevant departments to the issue. But as the woman and many internet users pointed out, this is not the first time Guangzhou subway has picked fights with goths. In November 2018, a woman dressed in goth clothing was confronted (in Chinese) by a security guard when entering another subway station, where she was lambasted for wearing an “outlandish costume.”