All subways have an unspoken code: if you sneeze cover your mouth, don’t spread out too much on the seats, when you’re done with the newspapers leave it for someone else. But in Guangzhou, China, it appears the rules extend to make up too. At least, that’s what one woman found when security refused her from boarding the train on account of her dark eyeshadow and lipstick.
Sharing the incident on Chinese social site Weibo, she explained a female security guard told her she couldn’t travel unless she toned down her look. The guard also went as far as calling her manager to tell them her look was “problematic and really horrible,” The Guardian reports.
Understandably, the young goth was less than understanding about having her personal style policed so intensely. Continuing on Weibo 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?”
Taking it further she continued, “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 the subway.'” Which is honestly pretty cool.
In response to the incident, hundreds of goths from around the world expressed their solidarity by sharing selfies with the hashtag #ASelfieForTheGuangzhouMetro. The BBC reports that on Weibo alone, over 5,000 people have joined the cause.
The incident has struck an accord with young women in particular, who have used the incident to highlight the way women’s bodies and appearance are policed in public spaces. One Weibo user Jiolaa noted, "what you see as fancy dress, I see as freedom." Another, Sansen Chenww, argued: "If beauty ideals remain the same, then art will die out… I'm not a murderer, an arsonist, I don't smoke or spit in public, I just love gothic dress."
Since the post went viral, China Daily has reported that the female security supervisor at the Guangzhou subway station has been suspended and will need to take remedial training before starting again.
It’s worth noting incidents like this aren’t isolated. Last July, another Guangzhou woman was told that her Japanese manga-inspired clothes were not permitted on the subway. A few months later in November, guards stopped a goth woman for having scary clothes, according to the Independent.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.