Friday, October 23, 2009

only the japanese...

Sometimes I have to wonder about the Japanese's sense of fashion, especially when I came across the Lolita look:

image source: daylife
These clothes makes young women look more like little Victorian schoolgirls, cute and innocent. According to the Lolita fashion entry in Wikipedia:
Adherents present themselves as Victorian children or baby dolls and prefer to look "cute" rather than "sexy." Many Lolitas claim that the term 'Lolita' doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sex at all... The irony of the name, Lolita, is that the actual fashion was created to fight the growing exposure of the body and skin in today's clothing, specifically in regards young women. Lolita fashion can be even considered a movement where girls ranging from pre-teens to late 20's fight the current fashion with modesty. It allows a girl to feel young, cute, beautiful or off- limits, depending on which type of Lolita a girl chooses to be.
Although the Lolita style claims to not be sexually driven, I have to wonder if there is some sort of fetish out there with the corruption of innocence which this style caters to. The look is named after Vladimir Nabokov's novel of the same name about the sexual obsession of a middle-aged man for a 12-year-old girl and his ensuing sexual relationship with her, for crying out loud.

Still, one has to wonder how this look is so Victorian, even though the novel Lolita takes place in the late 1940s-early 1950s. I suspect some sort of association with the sketches of Alice Liddel from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.

image source: 1st Art Gallery

If you want to dress the look it is recommended that you purchase the Gothic and Lolita Bible, a magazine that has set the standard for the look in recent years. There is also, apparently, a lifestyle associated with the look. Some things that go along with this lifestyle, suggested by the Lolita Handbook, include:
♥Tea Parties♥
Tea parties are one of the most common but elegant ways to get a group of lolitas together. Tea can be taken either English or Japanese style, or it can be less formal.
Like a tea party but a bit more informal. The perfect chance to bring out your country lolita clothing and your parasols for some hopefully ant-free lolita fun. Just get a nice wicker basket and pretty quilt and have everyone bring snacks. Sandwiches and cakes are good picnic foods while still being elegant, and even things like chips are good if set out in a nice bowl rather than a bag.

♥Enjoying the Arts♥
This can range from going to see Madame Butterfly to just seeing a movie. Get a group of lolitas together or just dress up by yuorself and go catch a symphony. Just don't wear you lolita finest to a rock concert - chances are it'll get ruined or stained.

♥Other Group Activities♥
♥Ballroom dancing
♥Little girl games - hopscotch, jump rope, hide-and-go-seek, and hoola-hooping
♥Playing cards
♥Going to an amusement park or circus

♥Lolita Sports♥
♥Horseback riding (side-saddle of course :P)
♥Old-fashioned bicycling
♥Bocce Ball

♥Activities That Can Be Done By One or More Lolitas♥
♥Music - violin and piano are epsecially lolita but any instrument works really
♥Gardening and flower arrangement
If the plethora hearts didn't sicken you, I think some of the pastimes will. Really? Hop-scotch and jump rope? And how the hell are the other pastimes purely "Lolita?" I can knit and sew and play croquet without thinking it as part of a fashion lifestyle.

I am so relieved this fashion hasn't gone mainstream in America yet. We don't need adult women running around in old-fashioned little girls clothes. Ladies, we got out of frilly dresses and Mary Janes for a reason- because we grew up.

For anyone more curious about this lifestyle, check out these 101 Lolita Lifestyle ideas. And don't ask me why Friday the 13th seems to be an "appropriate" date for a Lolita-themed party (#42).

And here's a song by Emilie Autumn called "Gothic Lolita." It's not about the fashion statement... or is it?


  1. I don't know if you ever watch What Not to Wear but there was an episode of a girl who wore Lolita dresses (she was a mega-bitch too and hated everything Clinton and Stacy did for her) and I remember thinking: what the hell is this baby-doll thing? So maybe it hasn't totally caught on in America but apparently it has with someone....

    Here's a link to a summary/critique of the episode and the girl: and also a youtube video (albeit of limited quality) of her in the 360 mirror:

  2. Hey, just found this via a google search and I thought I'd add something. I'm a lolita girl living in Arkansas and I have to say that the lolita style has definitely caught on in America, and all over the world, really. On Livejournal there is a community (EGL, short for "elegant gothic lolita") of over 14,00 lolitas from all over the world, including myself. We're definitely not "mainstream" or anything, yet, but we're slowly seeping into popculture- celebrities like Lady Gaga and Lil Mama have been spotted wearing lolita clothing on multiple occasions and lolitas have popped up on shows like Bones and movies like Tokyo Drift, among others. As for the name, most lolitas believe that either it wasn't named after the novel and just chosen as a random "cute" name by the Japanese who didn't understand its Western connotations or that it was a label that the media gave to it that just stuck. People have asked before why we don't just change the name since we hate being associated with that kind of thing so much, but it really isn't that easy, given that the lolita subculture has already been around for a few decades now and that just wouldn't be practical. Sure, I don't doubt that there may be some people out there that fetishize the fashion, but that's not why we wear it. There are men that fetishize ladies high heeled shoes, too, but that doesn't mean every woman in heels is doing it to attract weirdos. As for the "suggested lolita activities", half of those are just bullshit. I've never known a lolita to skip rope or play hopscotch in my life and frankly, I think most lolitas would be a little offended if you asked them to. The thing about tea parties and picnics is true, though, but those aren't always some big formal affair or anything; its just hanging out with our friends. Lolitas joke around, use swear words and drink alcoholic beverages(well, not everyone, of course, I'm just generalizing here) just like everyone else, we don't try to be "proper Victorian ladies" or anything, we're just normal girls who happen to be into an alternative subculture. The thing about music and art and sewing and all that was true, too. We lolitas value creativity. As for the rest of the stuff listed, sure, some girls may do it, but its not required or anything and those that do are in the minority. Those girls are what we in the lolita community call "lifestylers"- they like to take the lolita culture to the next level. Most of us, though, don't do anything much different than normal girls, we just happen to be a little more dressed up when we do it.

    And as someone that is both a lolita and an Emilie Autumn fan, I can say with all certainty that no, Emilie is not singing about the fashion statement. I'm not trying to force you to like the style or anything, that's your opinion and that's fine if you don't- if I wanted everyone to like what I wore I wouldn't be dressed up like such a damn freak. I'm just trying to straighten up some misconceptions you might have about our little subculture. Sure we may be different from most people, but we're far more similar than you'd think.

  3. Have you ever wondered what Japanese fashionistas may think of Western fashion? :)

    I appreciate your opinion and input, but as someone else has already said, you do have a lot of misconceptions about lolita fashion. If you don't like it, I'm sure a lot of us would appreciate it if you simply let it be...after all, we're not hurting anybody are we?

  4. This post is very insulting to all the lovely boys and girls in the Lolita fashion.

    It is not about sex. We do not claim it is not about sex. In is in FACT not about sex. And you know what, most likly every style has some sort of fetish around it.

    Most people don't follow the 'lolita lifestlye', many of us are more crafty than others, mostly from making our own clothes. But most people do not let their clothing contoll their lives.

    And Emilie Autumn. I am a huge muffin of hers and I can tell you for fact that 'Gothic Lolita' is not about the fashion. The song is about how she was raped as a child. Emilie is actully a fan of lolita stlye, she just doesn't wear it.

    And really, wikipedia as a resorce?

    If you want to insult us fine, we can take it. But at the very least, know someting about our fashion before you do

  5. Zombieplaything is right ^^ you have the wrong sorses :) Look at the picture how can you not love this adoreble fashion :)

  6. Lolita is a conservitive style! Even ero-lolis are conservitive! More so than your average Abercrombie girls that you see everywhere! (really look at how short THEIR skirts are, then look at ours. Which one has more sex appeal? Thought so!) So how do people as ignorant as you still not see there is no link between WhatsHisNames crappy novel to the Japanese Lolita?

  7. It's hilarious that you look up a word that has multiple meanings (as so many do) and decide to reasearch every possible correlation and compile them into one big pile of digust. Try maybe talking to someone who participates in the fashion subculture before you throw together a bunch of assumptions based on 2 books, a song, and a wikipedia article.
    You don't see me running around calling every girl who wears thong underwear a slut do you? Maybe there is a simpler, less sexual reason these girls wear this fashion. Maybe they just like it.
    I'm just sad that pedophiles are the entire reason this fashion is seen as a sexual one.
    The fashion trend originated as a rebellion against the more revealing mainstream fashion. Maybe you could write a bit more about that, and what it says about our mainstream society as a whole.
    By the way, pedophiles are more associated with terms liek "ageplay" and "ABDL" (if you're confused about these terms, they are also on wikipedia, too, lol). Just thought I'd give you a little factoid, there.

  8. Your post is thoroughly un-researched and poorly written. As someone who heavily adores the lolita fashion and was also a victim of pedophilia as a child I can tell you the two are COMPLETELY unrelated. As mentioned before, the book and the fashion have nothing to do with each other since, the book is western and the style originated in Japan. I love frills and lace and don't really enjoy showing too much skin so Lolita is perfect for that. What other fashion lets you layer on as much as you want and still be adorable?

    In my humble request, never ever link pedos and Lolita FASHION together again because it's idiotic and incorrect.

  9. Honestly, you are making yourself look a fool here.

    You obviously haven't done any sort of research into the Japanese fashion culture, and furthermore, into Japanese culture. Gothic Lolita fashion is not based on a book, it is based on an era. The Victorian Era, to be exact – their lifestyle mimics the way that people used live in those days – simple, and taking pleasure in the smaller things in life.

    Gothic Lolita, in Japan, isn't about a fetish (people do have a fetish for it, but then again, people have a fetish for people walking around in stilettos and fishnets...) it is about aesthetics.

    Friday the 13th is a fun day seen as taboo – why not have a tea party on that day? Lighten things up, make a day of bad luck and omens? I think it is an inspired idea.

    Seriously though, who do you think you are – you haven't lived the lifestyle, so you can only comment on it as an outsider, you haven't researched so you can't make an accurate assumptions, and you really have nothing support you in this.

    As other people have said РLolita is a conservative style, more conservative than any American fashion at the moment. If I were you, I would an expos̩ (if you can call anything you write that) on the Pedophilia in American society and the over sexualisation of the underaged within said society.

    Onto Emilie Autumn: Her song is based off the book that you mentioned, she even said so herself: "Oddly enough, it's not about the fashion, though I am a huge fan of that as well (duh), but rather about the real thing, if you know wheat I mean." – the real thing being an actual Gothic Lolita. If you cared to research, you might have noticed this.

    You are right about one thing: "Only the Japanese..." could be so inspired as to revive such a beautiful age, in such a modernised world. They bring class, beauty, innocence and fun together in one lifestyle/look.

    Next time you wish to critique a lifestyle, an artist and fashion in one, poorly worded post, then please take the time to do some substantial research. I know people have said that Wiki is a bad source, and it is – but if you are going to use Wiki, use it right, for the love of tea and muffins! USE IT RIGHT! You could have used only Wiki, and realised that you were way off base.

    Lots of Love & Tea,
    Muffin x

  10. Hi.
    I'm another Lolita who has been a little put out by your article. It makes me a sad that these days people feel the need to have a list of pre-conceived notions about everyone who dresses strangely. Just let us be strangers?

    It's like the "Goths Are All On Psych Meds, Emos Are All Into Self Harm, Gals Are All Sluts, Punks Don't Wash Properly" misconceptions.

    I don't put on my dresses every day and go "Oh KAWAIIII, I'm off to drink TEA and eat CAKE and GIGGLE! Let's get our dolls and have a tea party."

    I go to work, I spend my time like any normal girl. I do meet my similarly-dressed friends for tea now and then, but that's just like going for coffee with any other bunch of people.

    In every subculture, yes, you find sexual anomalies, but that may be because those types of people are drawn to "underground" things.
    Most often, these are not the founding members of the community.

    And the name is totally coincidental. Unfortunate, but coincidental. We needed to call it SOMETHING, after all, and "Lolita" is a cute girls name. The word suits the style, the Nabokovian stuff doesn't.

    I look forward to reading your new article when you've interviewed a few fans of the style.
    x x x

  11. I guess this post touched a nerve. It would seem that those criticizing the blogger for her criticism of their "lifestyle" could find some wise advice in their own words. If you are free to criticize her, why was she not free to criticize you?

    If there is no connection between the "Lolita" fashion and the book why does the name exist? Clearly it is not just a coincidence. There are many "cute girls name(s)" that someone chose Lolita for it must have something to do with a perception of the style that goes along with Nabokov's work.

    Even if most lolitas do not have anything to do with sexual interest now there must have been some interest in the fashion as pedophila or a pedophilic substitute at some point.

    If it originated in Japan that is all the stronger argument for it.

    In a country where you can buy used girl's underpants and prostitution is seen as a reasonable way to keep up with current fashions there might be a little bit odd in things that develop there as "fashion."

    Suggesting that the origins of something are sexual doesn't even imply that everyone involved in the thing have sexual reasons for being so involved.

    Yet, here you all are, dressing up like weirdos and then complaining because someone points out that it is weird. You may just like lace and so forth but if that were the case you wouldn't have to go out in public dressed as this. Whether you are emo, punk, lolita or whatever you are dressing a certain way because you want to project an image, say what you will.

    I guess you just need attention in that way. Fine, I'm not complaining. When you do dress in a way that doesn't follow normal fashion you have to expect that some people are going to find it odd. It is, by definition, odd, or different.

    Some people aren't going to like it. It would seem that if you were big enough and this were a legitimate thing, you could shrug it off and not bother writing public posts about such things.

    Some of the posts above were instructive and seem to really have been meant to educate more than crticize and that is legitimate and adds to the discussion.

    If there are misconceptions about your "lifestyle" then it might be better to follow those examples and try to explain what the misconceptions are. I don't think anyone here has explained why the name of the fashion originated in a way that exludes a Nabokovian interpretation. Even if the style has moved away from that now was that an aspect of it orginially? Was it a misconception from the start? And if so, and given that the the fashion is nowhere near mainstream, is it still not a reasonable misconception?

    As a side note, it would also seem that the people criticizing the writing style might take some lessons from the blogger about grammar and spelling.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Oh my. Well, in Japan, some people like to use English words the way people in America like to use Japanese words. They didn't know the meaning except it was something about being young. So they assumed. Obviously if they couldn't speak English, how would they know about his book or what it was about? I think that just stems from the idea that Japanese people have strange fetishes, which the same can be said about us from their point of view. Also, most lolitas don't wear it to show off they wear it because they like it. If everyone said jeans were stupid, you wouldn't stop wearing them, would you? I don't think this article is mean per se, I think the author has just made all the assumptions that everyone else makes when they hear about it. Just because you don't wear it, you don't understand, and that's fine. But I see your blog is about Victorian time? Some people don't like that (i however do) and they say that it was all social and they put down all other classes because they thought they were better and it was an awful time, etc. everyone has their opinions, but I think we should try to respect them and also try not to judge the based on that only. Most lolita is doing what you like and dressing how you like, it just happens to have a name. Anyone who conforms their life to that style ends up being unhappy.

  14. Dear Scott,
    First we are defending a real fashion

    Second the Japanese created the fashion called Lolita under the misunderstanding of the word

    So Lolita FASHION has nothing to do with the world Lolita in American language

    Thirdly, pedos interested in Lolita Fashion? are you kidding Lolita fashion covers from head to toe, I think the pedos would be more interested in less clothing. I think they would be against Lolita fashion because they don't show skin.

    Next, is that a crack on the Japanese? What about Amsterdam? all cloths from there most automatically be whorish according to you right? with their red light district, everyone in that country MUST be perverts, according to your reasoning.

    And next, No Lolita Fashion has nothing to do with sex or the term Lolita.

    why would anyone dress for someone other than themselves? I think we are starting to see you in a new light, do you dress to please everyone? maybe to fit in?

    In definition? again I say, Lolita FASHION is different from Lolita the word.

    Your right to say some people won't like it, I don't care. I'm still going to dress how I want.

    I have now explained why the book Lolita has nothing to do with Lolita FASHION. so stop complaining, and let us be. If you don't bash our clothes, we will certainly not say anything either.

    I would advise you to delete your post, because it IS insensitive, please be nicer when judging people, by what they dress or look like.

    P.S. seriously if you want us to shut up, stop making fun of us.

  15. "Thirdly, pedos interested in Lolita Fashion? are you kidding Lolita fashion covers from head to toe, I think the pedos would be more interested in less clothing. I think they would be against Lolita fashion because they don't show skin."

    I don't think that a fashion covering amounts of skin would disqualify it as being something that attracted someone to that fashion.

    Pedophiles are attracted to children for whatever reason. If something makes someone look like a child it is more likely that they will be attracted to that person. The fact that clothing can make someone more appealing is obvious. I find women in skirts to be far more attractive than naked women. Some people dress up in animal costumes to have sex. No skin showing there, as far as I know.

    "why would anyone dress for someone other than themselves? I think we are starting to see you in a new light, do you dress to please everyone? maybe to fit in?"

    This is a pretty childish argument. People dress for other people all the time. They have to. Ultimately you are dressing for yourself you are just mature enough to realize that you get more of what you want when you dress according to the expectation of others than you do by dressing in some non-conformist style. In my job I have to dress in a suit and tie or in scrubs depending on what I am doing. If I were to walk into a work situation with a Misfits t-shirt on I wouldn't be able to do my job as well or possibly at all because it is not what other people want to see me in even if I like it.

    I'd rather have the money that my job brings than wear a misfits t-shirt all the time so I am ultimately dressing for myself, I just have my higher order priorities straight.

    I don't know that anyone is complaining about the clothes, dress as freakishly as you want. I would say that if you are going to dress like a freak don't complain when others point out that it is freaky. It is sort of like when some slut wears a t-shirt that is so tight her nipples are visible from down the block and then complains about guys looking at her tits. If you don't want someone looking at your tits don't show them off.

    Same here. Lolita may be a fashion but it is a fashion outside of the mainstream. When people wear it they will attract attention. Most of them probably wear it to attract attention as it doesn't look comfortable. It isn't dissimiliar to people dying their hair green or pink or whatever.

    "Next, is that a crack on the Japanese? What about Amsterdam? all cloths from there most automatically be whorish according to you right? with their red light district, everyone in that country MUST be perverts, according to your reasoning."

    At least there is reasoning. All that comment seems to be saying is that there are a lot of strange sexual mores in Japan. Prostitution, by most reasonable definitions is legal, only actual coitus is restricted.

    The Japanese government defines teenage prostitutes as being between 13 and 18 years of age. That it has such a definition seems odd. But teenage prostitution is a major problem in the country and the numbers of teen prostitutes is rising. While this is not necessarily indicative of all things Japanese having a sexual origin it certainly adds to the argument that something coming from Japan is more likely to have a sexual origin than something coming from, say, Utah.

  16. Wow. So much HUURRRDURRR in a single blog post. Didn't think it was possible. At least you're good at being retarded, if nothing else.

  17. I like how people, who've known about the fashion for a whole ten minutes, like to make assumptions and argue like they suddenly know everything about lolita fashion. More than the girls (and guys) who, you know, actually WEAR the clothes and are part of it's community.


    Pedos are attracted to children, not grown women who have pictures of cakes on their dresses. If our goal was to attract pedos, we would clump ourselves in with the ageplay and sissy communities. Your average lolita wearer would be OFFENDED if you called them an ageplayer or sissy, because our fashion is not meant to have any kind of sexual connotations.

    We don't wear these clothes when it's inappropriate to do so, such as a job or specific event, especially with the more over-the-top styles like OTT sweet-lolita (which is what the first picture is; it's a very 'loud' style of lolita). It's common sense. However, when it's our own free time, or when we're in an environment that doesn't have an expected dress-code, we dress as we please. It makes US happy. Believe it or not, some of us dress how we want because we like it, not to attract attention.

    Most of the comments here aren't complaining that the poster is pointing out how "freaky" the fashion is, but that she's getting the style completely wrong in terms of its "intentions". We understand that no one will "get" the fashion with just a glance, but if you're going to write a whole post on it, we would appreciate a little research first, instead of just blindly painting us whatever colour you want with half-assed research.

    The whole argument about Japan seems irrelevant. Weird shit comes from just about every country, but that doesn't mean EVERYTHING that comes from that country is part of that weird shit. Western lolitas are tuned in very well with Japanese lolitas. Many of us read the Japanese lolita magazines, buy a lot of our clothes from Japan, and even meet some of the brand designers at events held outside of Japan. The communities are not that different. The Japanese lolitas aren't secretly making these clothes/wearing it for pedos. They dress in it for the same reasons westerners do; they *gasp* actually LIKE the clothing.