Self expression influenced by ‘Punk’ culture

Ryan D’Souza | Visual Design Editor

Jake Sapp | Staff Writer

Pink hair, torn jeans, and a “take it or leave it” attitude are all things that come to mind when the word “punk” is used to describe someone. 

But certain students are willing to take the next level through outlandish projects, creating their own music, and expressing themselves through whatever means necessary. 

Senior Tabitha Parks is one such individual, and is striving to stand out from the crowd by dressing in her own self-made clothing in a campaign to become entirely reliant on nothing but herself and her wild tastes.

“Punk is about doing your own thing,” Parks said. “Doing what you like, not caring about what other people think, and standing up for what you believe. There’s a lot in punk for people to appreciate. It’s not just scary music and drugs.”

Parks says that she decided to take after major punk icons of the 20th century, and wants to incorporate their style into her own self-expression. Even though she takes heavy inspiration from the past, Parks said she still wants to make her mark on everything she creates.

“My biggest inspiration was Ian Mackaye, the lead singer for the band ‘Minor Threat’,” Parks said. “They were the band that really pushed the whole DIY Punk movement in the 80’s. It’s all about putting your own spin on things, which I think is really cool.”

 


Senior Tabitha Parks sews patches onto personally crafted clothing that represents her punk style.

 

Senior Christopher Gerdes is also an active member of the punk community. While he experienced childhood ridicule, Gerdes said his introduction to the community invited him into a sense of comfort and acceptance. 

“I’ve always been a bit of a loner,” Gerdes said. “I was bullied a lot in middle school because of the way I looked and it wasn’t easy for me. Until my best friend introduced me to rock, I didn’t really have a way of connecting with people. It’s really helped me to break out of my shell in recent years.”

Despite the independent style associated with punk culture, Park said the atmosphere present in punk concerts adds to the interactive aesthetic of the community. 

“Everyone else at concerts is just as weird as you,” Parks said. “When I’m in Mason and I’m around all these people, I act a lot different than when I do when I’m at one of these concerts. Everyone there is your friend, even if you don’t know them, they’re your friend. It’s like an unspoken bond.”

Junior Elissa Evans said her punk enthusiasm stems from a similar passion for music, an interest that has aided her self expression and individuality. 

“I’ve always been really into music that isn’t exactly normal,” Evans said. “Pop music and stuff like that just isn’t really my thing. I listen to everything from Green Day, to Ghost, and even local bands. Music has given me the ability to express myself in a different way than other people can understand.”

With this passion for music, Evans said she wants to start her own band and craft her inspirations into something that she can add her own personal flare to.

“My friend and I have wanted to make our own music since we were really little,” Evans said. “It’s always been a passion for us and we’re really starting to get close to our goal. There’s just something about music that affects me physically, it’s almost like I can just feel it inside me.”

The sense of community is what drew Gerdes to the punk movement, and believes that having the ability to be around similar people to him has made life much easier to deal with.

“I love being able to hang out with people like me,” Gerdes said. “Everyone is always super welcoming and the group is just great. Some people think we’re strange, but I think of us as a really weird family.”

Even with the connections she has made through her pastime, Parks says that she gets odd glances in the hallways because of things like her patch covered jeans and band apparel, making her feel slightly alienated from her peers. Despite this, she chooses to ignore the negativity.

“I think there’s definitely a gap between me and some people who think my style is weird,” Parks said. “But I don’t really care what other people think. It’s what makes me happy and I love what I’m doing. The way I see it, if people don’t want to associate with me because of how I dress, then I don’t have to associate myself with them.”

Prior to being introduced to the punk lifestyle, Parks was very reserved. However, her involvement and experimentation in the culture has broadened her social life and her outward expression. 

“Before I started getting into punk, I was super, super introverted and had a lot of self esteem issues,” Parks said. “I started going to all these punk shows and talking to all these people then I just started opening up. It made me realize that being happy is more important is than caring what other people think.”

Even though he had previously faced scrutiny for his counter-culture approach, Gerdes said the way he presents himself has given him a family and and an outlook that he would not have had otherwise.

“I honestly wouldn’t trade any of this for the world,” Gerdes said. “I love what I do and it has really changed my life for the better.”

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