Friday, 22 September 2017

Lolita Blog Carnival: Difficult Things to Deal With in the Fashion


This is an interesting writing prompt! Until I sat down to write the post, I hadn't seriously considered all of the difficulties associated with participating in this fashion. It's a bit shocking seeing it all laid out here, but to me it's 100% worth the struggle.I can certainly understand why people find it difficult to break into lolita, and I've definitely encountered people who give it a try but ultimately lose interest just because it can be so challenging to deal with at times.

1) Lolita is a shopaholic’s worst nightmare.
I’m impulsive by nature and I’ve always had the attitude that there’s no point in hoarding money when you could be using it to enjoy life (within reason of course). Time or money wasted on something you enjoy is not wasted. I also love bargain hunting, so lolita can be a dangerous temptation. I deal with it by keeping a strict list of items that I want, divided into tiers based on how badly I want them and how much I’m willing to spend on them.

Another thing that can help curb impulse buying is holding items in your cart for a long time before purchasing them. This is especially useful when ordering from Taobao, where it's easy to amass a huge cart of inexpensive items only to be unhappy with them when they finally arrive months later. Been there, done that! Now, I keep my items in the shopping cart for at least a week and carefully consider them before making the decision to purchase. How often will I wear it? Is the fabric quality and construction worth the price? Very often, I find that by the end of that week, I've dumped most of the items from my cart.

2) Lolita fashion can promote consumerism.

I can think of a LOT of  things I could have bought with the money I spent on lolita.
I wouldn’t call myself frugal, and I don't have any problem with enjoying shopping and collecting items in themselves - but I try to be mindful of advertising and consumer culture, and how it affects my psyche and behaviour. Lolita is interesting because it is an underground (yet brand-focused), expensive luxury fashion subculture. Like more traditional luxury fashions, having a large collection of name-brand items and owning coveted, rare pieces is a status symbol. Lolita itself is an expression of decadence.

On the other hand, lolita is an indie, "slow" fashion with a thriving secondhand shopping and handicraft culture in a conglomerate, fast fashion world. I think that the craftsmanship and quality of the average lolita garment has given me a greater appreciation for well-made clothing in general. I find myself doing a lot more secondhand shopping and making alterations than I did before, and buying fewer quality pieces instead of heaps of poorly made items that I won't get much use out of.

3) SO MUCH LAUNDRY.

I am eternally grateful that most of my wardrobe is machine washable, because I wear lolita a few times a week and it's just way too much to handwash. Laundry sucks. I don't even want to devote a full writeup to laundry because it doesn't deserve it.

4) Meeting up in public spaces attracts a lot of unwanted attention.

Toronto is a big city with a huge alternative scene so it isn't at all unusual to see lolitas, punks, goths, or other weirdly dressed people hanging out in public. The response from locals varies from total apathy to candid photos and awkward questions, but it's usually not too bad. I love taking out my phone and snapping pictures of them in return! Most people are curious but harmless, and some are nice enough to ask for photos instead of just taking creepshots.

Going into a touristy area is almost guaranteed to turn into a paparazzi shitshow of harassment. People have tried to get me into their cars, asked me if I'm a prostitute or a dominatrix, touched me without permission or tried to look up my dress, and all sorts of incredibly inappropriate things. I've lost count of the number of times someone came within spitting distance of me and started filming or chatting me up while I'm eating a burger or on my phone or something equally uninteresting. They wouldn't do that to someone dressed normally, so I'm not sure why wearing an unusual outfit waives my right to sit in peace.

My local comm has a lot of girls who are too shy or afraid to defend themselves when someone is getting out of line. Thankfully, most of the older members are good at politely defusing the situation and asserting themselves, but it doesn't always work on people who are really persistent. I'm...less than polite to say the least! My natural inclination when faced with rudeness is to be even ruder - and quite frankly, I feel no need to show decorum or respect to someone who won't return the favour. Juvenile, yes. Satisfying, also yes.

5) The media depicts lolitas in the worst light possible, making it difficult to explain our hobby to others.

Anyone remember this debacle? This poor girl was misled about how her photo would be used, resulting in this movie poster that associates lolita fashion with ageplay and pedophilia.
If I had a dollar for every shitty, badly researched """""documentary""""" (using that term extremely loosely here) I've seen about living dolls or every cringeworthy ita making an embarrassment of themselves on one of those TLC makeover shows...well, I wouldn't be rich but I could buy a fancy bottle of liquor and that's almost as good!

It's incredibly rare to come across a media depiction of lolitas that is fair or realistic. Instead, they usually fall into one of two categories: A) we're all depressed, emotionally damaged girls using babyish princess clothing as a way of escaping real life or B) we're all perverted fetishists who dress as children (or worse) for the kink. Sometimes a combination of both.

I personally am not bothered by ageplay fetishists, even though the idea makes me deeply uncomfortable. It's none of my business what people do in their private lives as long as nobody is being hurt. But I really don't want any kind of fetishistic lifestyles associated with lolita fashion. 

It doesn't help that these documentaries almost exclusively focus on sweet lolitas who love cutesy, pastel weeby stuff. I personally have no problem with that, but many westerners conflate liking sweet childish things with being immature, or wanting to be an actual child. I feel like if they interviewed a gothic lolita it would be similar to those really bad 90s-era news reports about how goths are S&M maniacs who believe in literal vampires - still bad, but less damaging than potentially being viewed as someone who has a fetish involving children.

The filmmakers seem to go for the easy targets - people who are willing to talk about themselves at length on camera and expose themselves to public scrutiny are usually the absolute last people you would want to represent lolita fashion to the world. In short, they seem to pick people who are total itas or people who are a bit...off, instead of choosing the 99% of lolitas who are completely normal functioning adults who happen to like dressing up.

6) Sizing is a royal pain.

Lolita is notorious for running too small for most western body types. We're just bigger over here than the average Japanese woman, even at a healthy body weight. Height, bone structure, and bigger busts are usually the culprits. I think it makes people feel insecure and unhappy with their bodies, which is really sad. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a "wrong" body - it's the clothing that is wrong. Thankfully, many brands do custom sizing now and there's lots of shirred pieces available. Overall, brands are increasing in size as time goes on, But there's only so much you can do - if your ribcage is too big for a bodice, you can't do a whole lot about it short of sawing them off.

I have long limbs and broad shoulders so finding things that fit properly is an adventure. Blouses and OPs are a crapshoot - either the shoulders are too small or the sleeves are too short. For instance, my ladies' size Atelier Boz Roland jacket fits my chest and waist with wiggle room to spare, but it's so tight on my shoulders that I can't raise my arms properly. I own a lot of JSKs and skirts because it's just easier to deal with than having an OP that I can't cram my shoulders into. .

Some brands are much better for me than others - Moitie and Millefleurs fit me perfectly, longer dresses from AatP/Baby and JetJ make me look stumpy, AP is too big in the waist...basically, if a dress doesn't have waist ties or corset lacing, I won't buy it. Of course, it doesn't help when manufacturers' measurements aren't accurate. I'm looking at you, Moitie.

I'm trying to give you money, Mana. Why you lying?
But despite all of the annoyances and heartache that come along with the fashion, I'm never going to stop wearing it. I've met so many amazing people and had some wonderful experiences all because we bonded over these ridiculous dresses. I don't think I could have picked a better subculture to call home!

Check out what these other lolitas had to say on this week's LBC topic!

4 comments:

  1. 1. True. It is so easy to step into that trap.
    2. I would even argue that the fashion is a product of 80's yuppie consumerism, live fast, spend fast and we all die tomorrow(no future). We know that spending wouldn't save the world or ourselves, but we do it anyway. We are aestistics!
    5. But at least there is some good web docs to show instead of that reality crap. People need to be educated in critical in terms of source.
    I feel you in the last one, I have a long body, the last three jsks,I have to lower the buttons on the straps, just get the bodice length right. I like corset lacing on blouses, I am no fan of floating blouses. Shirring is curse or blessing, full shirred pieces are really unflattering, even they are comfortable, full back shirring and partial shirring is better, because they still have those fitted parts.

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    1. 2 - Good point about the yuppie consumerism! It seems like it has roots in that whole idea of rebellious girls spending money on themselves and fun material things because life is too short. That is definitely how I like to live, too!

      5 - There are some pretty good ones on Vice, I just hope going into the future documentaries will be more thoughtful in how they portray lolitas instead of just trying to shock normies with the whole "look at these crazy living doll girls!" Most viewers are not very critical :/

      6 - have the opposite problem, my body is too short, so I have to wear heels and shorten all the straps on my JSKs lol. I really hope that the trend will move towards more comfortable dresses that fit a variety of sizes.

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  2. Really interesting post in detailing the realities of being a lolita. I'm not hugely into Lolita or such but I do love the gothic Lolita aesthetic. The culture on of incorporating demure behaviour and fashion.

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    1. That is definitely what attracts me to the aesthetic, just how elegant and refined and girly it looks! Except for the demure bit, I may like to dress as a baby vampire but I'm definitely not the refined type. :P

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