Posts Tagged lolita

Penis? In MY Lolita?

I admire boys in lolita. Actually, I admire any boy who is not afraid to put on feminine markers, whether it’s a skirt or a bit of eyeliner. But lolita, in particular, takes feminization to a whole new level. There is so much girlishness in lolita that even I sometimes feel like I’m dressing in drag.

As we all know, lolita has a long history of gender-mixing. How many Gothic and Lolita Bible ads have you admired for years, only to discover later that the lolitas you’re admiring–all of the lolitas you’re admiring–were male all along? This is one fashion in which one should never take gender for granted.

There are many possible reasons for why this may be. The ties to Visual Kei are an obvious one, of course. Mana notwithstanding, there are a variety of male artists who prefer the lolita look, such as Aya, Kaya, and others. But beyond the big artists, lolita’s ultra-feminine style exemplifies girlishness in a way that most mainstream fashion does not. For a boy who wants to play at being a girl, there is no better fashion style. If you’re going to be a girl, you may as well go all the way.

Mana

I find that lolita fashion, in many ways, caters to those who wish to soften their masculine features. Just look at how Mana layers his socks and tights to obscure his knees. The way that he uses gloves and long sleeves to hide his arms and hands. The way that his throat is always covered, and how his platform shoes give the rest of his body the illusion of being smaller. The giant bell shape of the skirt perfectly creates the hourglass silhouette that his body does not naturally take, while the lack of shaped bust on his dresses makes his lack of breasts less noticeable. Regardless of the body you started out with, lolita is designed to give you a super-feminine appearance when it is done well.

It is of no surprise that there are some naysayers against our lolita brothers. Of course, there are naysayers against everybody that is perceived as different or a minority in lolita, as would be expected in any fashion subculture, and such people are best ignored. Although one of these people once asked, why is it that whenever a boy shows up in lolita, girls practically trip over themselves trying to be nice to him?

I can’t speak for other girls. I know that many people love the idea of a girl who is a boy who is a girl. But for me, it comes down to the same reason why I prefer to be nice to someone who is just starting out, or someone who is a little overweight. Because they are probably going to have a very hard time of it when they walk out their front door into the real world. Because they are braver than I am. Because they could very well be threatened, hurt, beaten, and humiliated for doing what they are doing. Because maybe, nobody else will tell them that they look beautiful. I believe that every lolita, girl or boy, deserves to feel a little bit beautiful.

There is one nagging blight on my love for the brolita. One thing that tarnishes them in my mind. And that is the brolita who takes a superior attitude. I see it everywhere: in a predominantly female group, one token male walks in and feels the need to act as though his opinions, his experiences, his observations, are better than everyone else’s. Maybe he feels threatened. Maybe he doesn’t know how to communicate in such a situation. But whatever the reason, nothing will kill my sympathy for a boy in lolita faster than self-righteousness.

If you are a boy in lolita, or a boy who wants to be a lolita, or even a boy who just admires lolita, be humble. I know it’s hard, when you’re used to being the one in charge. I know it’s not easy to be the odd one out. But know that lolitas respond infinitely better to somebody who is a little bit humble, who is open to advice, who says “please” and “thank you.” You’ll find that many of your sisters will, quite literally, trip over themselves to help you. If you are a girl in lolita, be nice to your brothers. Know that it took some true bravery to like what you like, and to wear what you wear.

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The Rule Book

Lolitas have a reputation for being one of the most elitist, rule-bound subcultures on the internet, and this reputation is perhaps not entirely undeserved. If you visit any lolita website or community, what are you likely to see? Extensive categories and sub-categories of styles. Endless guidelines about everything from skirt length to lace quality to the thickness of your shoe heels. Advice over how to wear your hair, how to do your makeup, and whether to tuck in your shirt. For the uninitiated, the world of lolita is a dizzying change from hyper-casual mainstream fashion.

What any seasoned lolita will tell you, though, is that the longer you are in the fashion, the more likely you are to bend, break, relax, and challenge those rules which we so greatly pride ourselves upon. You become less concerned about categories: after all, lolita is lolita, even if an outfit may be punk or classic depending on who you ask. You are less afraid to introduce elements into your outfits that are unexpected. You are less afraid to act “un-loli.”

I frequent a number of lolita communities, and the tone of those communities is dramatically different depending on the “age” of the majority of members (that is, how long they have been lolitas). Almost without fail, the communities in which the members are newer will be the most stringent, rule-bound communities there are. They are the ones who are most concerned about whether their hair is lolita. They are the ones who worry about whether their outfit can be classified as sweet or shiro.

I often see newbies warning each other over “purists” possibly attacking them for their ideas about lolita. What is funny is that the things they often warn about are those very things which most experienced lolitas are less concerned about. Crazy hair styles. Unusual shoe choices. Ironically, they worry about older members condemning them for breaking rules, when they are the ones who are far more likely to condemn each other for breaking those rules.

The reason for this is easy to see, of course. Newbies are still finding their way in this fashion. They are still grasping new concepts, still working out what looks good and what is better avoided. For a newbie, the easiest possible way to navigate lolita fashion is by following those rules to the letter. That is, after all, why so many sites go to such great lengths to set out as many guidelines as possible: it is simply the best way to explain the fashion.

Lolita will never be as relaxed as most other subcultures. There is simply no way to construct a lolita outfit without navigating a specific set of requirements such as skirt shape and length. But obsessive? Rule-bound? Elitist? Maybe those stories about us are just a wee bit exaggerated.

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Changing Tides

Various events have been preventing me from making a lot of updates to this blog recently, and for that I apologize. The good news is, one of those big events is that I have moved in with two of my very good friends–friends who are both lolitas.

Yes, I have infiltrated their natural habitat, all Steve Irwin-style, so that I may better understand the lolita’s elusive habits. Long has the academic community debated over such questions as, “What does a lolita eat?” “How does a lolita attract her mate?” “What are a lolita’s nesting habits?” and “How does she make her hair do that?” I feel that this is a most thrilling opportunity to find the answers to these questions, and report them to you, the reader.

On that note, this blog began primarily as a place to more formally discuss my thoughts and opinions, but I wonder whether it’s missing a more personal element. Perhaps I should be posting more about my regular lolita excursions, my outfits, my hair woes, and things of that sort. I don’t want to bore anyone with my mundane life, but I do think this blog might benefit from being able to put a face to my name. Any thoughts on what you would like to see here?

And just so this won’t be a text-only post, let’s talk about Polyvore. In case you have not yet discovered this piece of procrastinating fodder, Polyvore is a site that allows you to make collages from pictures you find around the internet. Specifically, it is intended to create outfit collages from store stock photos. This makes it, needless to say, lolita coordinate heaven.

The upside of Polyvore is that it does most of the work for you. With a few clicks, you can copy (or “clip”) the item photo, and with a simple drag and drop, you can place it in your new collage (called a “set”). If the photo has a neutral background, Polyvore can even delete the background color, allowing your item to float free. You can layer and arrange things however you like, something people like to take advantage of.

The downsides of Polyvore are the clipping limitations and the frustrations of poor stock photos. Some sites are blocked from clipping (such as the Jesus Diamante site, oddly enough). Polyvore also does not allow you to clip from image hosting sites such as Flickr, Photobucket, or Tinypic. As such, you may have the perfect item for your coordinate, but no way of getting it into the clipper. As well, some brands are notorious for their lackluster stock photos, which are small, blurry, and set on an overly-busy background. Sometimes, I find that my set looks better with a poorer item using a better stock photo, than an amazing item with a poor photo.

Still, one of my favorite aspects of Polyvore is the community part. There are various lolita-related groups to be found, including Sweet and Gothic, Pour Lolita, Gothic, Victorian, and Lolita, and my personal favorite, The Lolita Fashion 50, a group that challenges you to create a coordinate for each of 50 prompts. In addition to the communities, people can comment on sets and favorite them. The favorite system works as a sort of rating system on communities, allowing “popular” sets to rise to the top of the list.

My own sets can be found on my profile, but here is one of my personal favorites.

LF50: 9. Pirate
LF50: 9. Pirate by Ellorgast featuring All Saints accessories

Cheers!

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Beneath the Frills




Kamikaze Girls

Originally uploaded by Loving Bryan Adams

There is a reason why I don’t end up writing a lot of lifestyle articles on this blog. I’m not one of those people who thinks that “lifestyle” is a dirty word in the lolita world, but I do feel that the concept is somehow overblown. I guess you could say I sit somewhere in the middle of the lifestyle debate. After all, any lolita who claims not to be somehow changed by their fashion–whether it’s in how they act, in their interests, or simply their makeup and hair care habits–probably wasn’t all that devoted in the first place. You would not be here if something about this fashion did not get under your skin.

On the other hand, I think it would be a shame to completely form one’s own identity around a single interest. Isn’t that the very definition of “otaku” in the original, derogatory sense? Why limit yourself so much that you must eat, sleep, and breathe lolita when there are so many other wonderful things in the world?

And what is a lifestyle lolita, anyway? I have seen lots of interesting articles related to the topic, but never a firm definition of “a lolita lifestyle means this.” In debates, I have often seen lifestyle lolitas claim that the anti-lifestylers have the wrong idea about things, but my requests for an explanation were never answered by any.

The result is that I often hear mixed messages. Should all lolitas listen to classical music or to J-rock (and does this mean electric instruments are only okay if the lyrics are Japanese)? Should lolitas never work, or should they be completely independent? Should she act like a little girl or like a demure young lady? Should she be confident or helpless? Should she sew her own clothes or be a complete consumer?

And who decides these things, other than a handful of bloggers who are every bit as human as we are, who buy the same brand and follow the same trends? Novala Takemoto? I often see lifestylers quote Novala to me, but have they already forgotten that his character Momoko was anything but a role model? Momoko begins the story as selfish, shallow, and bitchy. Her personal lolita “rules” are over-the-top and ridiculous–such as refusing to work or eat anything other than sweets. Her growth as a character throughout the book and movie is marked by a relaxing of her rules as she learns to value friendship over her ideal image of herself. And in the end, it is not Momoko who becomes a model for Baby the Stars Shine Bright, but crude, violent yankee Ichiko.

But in their own personal lives, people can and should do what they want. If following a lolita lifestyle, however you define it, makes you a better, more fulfilled person, then that can only be a good thing.

I do, however, feel that there is a more insidious consequence of pushing lolita as a lifestyle. The moment you begin to say “lolita is about the person, not about the clothes,” you are opening up a Pandora’s Box of questions about who this person is meant to be. Not only how she should act, but what about everything else about her as a person? What race is she? How tall and how thin? What sort of hair must she have? Must she be rich, educated, and privileged? Must she be a (biological) female and heterosexual (or asexual)? Must she have perfect skin, lacking in glasses and visible disabilities, with the voice of an angel and the manners of a saint?

The fact is, the vast majority of lolitas agree that people of all shapes and sizes and colors are worthy of their frills. And in the end, isn’t it better to be welcoming than exclusive, to accept people no matter who or what they are, or where they come from? This may be a solitary fashion, but it’s a community, too, and I would pick an interesting, diverse one over a boring, clonelike one any day.

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A Lolita Auntie’s Musical Despair




Totally Lolita Bands

Originally uploaded by spirit_seraphim

Those who watch Lolita Secret may recognize the photo to the right (click to see the fullsize version and read the text). Am I now in the habit of stealing secrets to make my point? Absolutely not, because I am going to come clean: this was my secret.

It all started last summer, when I took a trip over to Vancouver, B.C. where the local lolitas happened to be holding a meetup. It was a pretty nice get-together, as far as meetups in a mall with several strangers can be. We chatted, we did some purikura. Everyone felt friendly, accepting. We took over a ring of seats in the food court and just chatted for a while.

It was during the chat that I started to feel a little bit awkward. Bands like The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana were heavily discussed–underaged Disney Channel kids who I only knew of from the overflow of merchandise oversaturating my local Wal-mart. I understood The Jonas Brothers to be something like the new Hanson (for whom, in 1997, I was also a couple years too old to be among their target audience). In fact, the last time I had ever fallen for a boy band was when New Kids on the Block was the hottest young group alive. It was 1990. I was six years old. They were my first concert. I had a white sweatshirt and a pair of sweat socks with their neon pink logo screenprinted on. Hangin’ Tough was the most badass thing that I had seen or heard in my young life.

This wasn’t about music, though. This was about a social divide. I suddenly began to feel like a stranger in a foreign land. As we went around the circle, giving our name, favorite brand, and–horror of horrors–age, my sinking suspicion was confirmed. I was the only person present who was not in my teens. As the circle closed in on me, I had no choice but to confess with intense embarrassment that I was five years older than everybody else. In fact, I was more than ten years older than at least one of them. The girls graciously swooped in to reassure me that I did not look it.

I suppose they assumed that I feared looking old, but as somebody who has been mistaken for a middle school student well into my twenties, this was not my concern. At the time of the meetup, I had been out of high school for five years. I had a university degree. I had been a teacher for nearly a year. I had been of legal drinking age in my province for six years. I made insurance payments. I had investments. A car. A credit card. A cheque book.

These girls still did chores and received allowances. Drinking and partying were exciting, taboo experiences. Shopping online was done under the close supervision of Mom and Dad.

There were, thankfully, a few 18-year-olds among the 13-year-olds. Somebody made a joke about us “lolita aunties” taking off by ourselves, and I said we should go to a bar. Then I remembered that the drinking age in B.C. is 19, and I would therefore be drinking on my own.

“Auntie,” I thought. That’s what my 5-year-old god-daughter calls me. I’m now an auntie to these teenagers.

I think I fled pretty quickly after that. When I went home, I ran into the workplace of my fellow lolita and practically blurted, “they were so young! And I’m so old!” My local lolitas are all much closer to me in age. Though I’m the oldest among them, the only time I ever feel the gap is when I make mention of some 80s cartoon that they did not have the privilege of watching when they were little. My friends tried to reassure me, but I was greatly disturbed: was I too old for lolita now? Is that what this meant? Was I like those people who still wear Care Bears t-shirts into their 30s?

It seemed unfair. I was already out of high school before I started seriously wearing lolita. My “lolita nieces” got to discover it almost a decade before I did.

And yet, never have I had to ask my mother if I could buy myself a new skirt. Or worse: ask her to buy it for me. From the very beginning, lolita has been mine, and only mine. I worked and I saved for it. I wore it where and when I wanted to. I don’t need my mother to drive me to meetups.

Still, the experience has left me slightly shaken, and I believe, has changed the way I wear my lolita. I have never been a sweet lolita fan to begin with, always leaning on the gothic or classic or even punk sides of the fence (this is a very multidimensional fence, you see). Now, even my classic outfits are beginning to grow more mature than they were in the past. My skirts are getting longer (or sometimes much shorter!). The pearls are coming out more often than the bows and ribbons. The socks are being shelved, and my tights collection is growing. The heels on my Mary Janes seem to be growing higher with each new pair I buy. Sometimes, I wonder whether the young lolita community would even recognize me as one of their own anymore. But I am beginning to accept that maybe, I am not as much a part of their group as I once was.

More and more, I am noticing this influx of young teenage girls into lolita. And while I have nothing at all against these girls, their life is not my life. And by extension, their lolita–the way that they experience it and live it–is not my lolita.

There is room in lolita for everybody. But sometimes, the aunties like to move into the other room, sip their margaritas, and crank the Hangin’ Tough.

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Review: Sucrerie Magazine

A few weeks ago, a new indie lolita magazine by the name of Sucrerie was unveiled for the lolita world. Since it’s not too often that we get a brand new, free publication in our midst, I thought a review was in order.

Format:
When the concept for Sucrerie was first suggested, the editors were considering releasing it as a series of .pdf files, and I admit that this immediately turned me off to the project. As somebody who deals with them regularly for research papers, I find .pdf to be extremely awkward and not at all user-friendly. Any content that requires your viewers to download a file before viewing it is going to turn many away.

As such, I am very pleased that they decided to go with a Flash version of the magazine, provided by flashpageflip.com. FlashPageFlip allows the reader to view an entire two-page spread at a time, as one would a real magazine, and on clicking forward, can see and hear the page “flip” to the next. You can even grab the corner of the page and “flip” it yourself. The reader does not have to download the magazine, and loading times for each page are relatively quick. As well, the reader has the ability to flip between pages, or jump directly to a page number. Each two-page spread can be viewed as “fit to screen” to see the full layout, or as “actual size” to zoom in and read the content. Another bonus of this format is that links may be embedded into the pages. This is particularly cool in how you can click directly on a section in the table of contents to reach the page you want, or click on an ad to go straight to the online store.

This format is not without its drawbacks, however. Many readers find that they must zoom in after each page flip, as it automatically reverts back to “fit to screen,” which, with the thick toolbars above and below the magazine, is too small on most screens. This can make the process of reading the magazine rather slow, as one waits for each page to load, then zooms in. I also found it awkward to have to grab and drag the page around in an effort to read it all when it is at “full size.” I wished for multiple zoom options, but on reading flashpageflip.com, found that the free version does not have this feature, and it is unlikely that this magazine will make the funds it would need for the $49-$99 USD full versions, on top of the cost of their webspace. For the reader, there is a bit of a learning curve to this format–it took much experimental clicking for me to figure out how to zoom, how to flip between pages, and that links were actually links. The fact is, it just isn’t the same as a print magazine, but for a free online one, it’s likely the best that could be done at this point.

Layout and Editing
Like a real magazine, each page gets its own unique formatting, except for the occasional two-page spread. There appear to have been multiple artists in charge of creating the pages, making for a slightly inconsistent feel and look. Sometimes the layout is awkward and crowded. Other times it is really quite lovely to look at. As the magazine is not limited by the cost of printing, the editors were free to spread out, filling whole pages with single photos or poems.

What I found most bothersome were the colors and fonts used. The Courier-like font used for most articles, while clear and easy to read, is distracting and unattractive on the page. My aunt, who is considering doing a master’s thesis on typography, once explained to me that the ideal font is one that is invisible. It should be so perfect at conveying its message in context that you do not even notice it. This font is jarring on the page, and the editors would do well to read up on fonts a little. As well, the font is almost too small to read in places, and feels squished together.

Colors are another issue. The Contents page, for example, is typed entirely in baby blue on a white background. I had so much trouble reading it that I skipped right past it. A section titled Beauty and the Body Image features tiny white text on a pale blue background that grows progressively lighter. This is a shame, because both the article itself and the rest of the page layout are quite endearing. The Artist Gallery, in addition to rendering the artwork rather small compared to the space available (surely a second page could be afforded for artwork, and they could do without the heavy, distracting frames), makes the light blue-on-white text so tiny and unreadable that I almost did not realize the names of the artists were listed at all.

I found that some pages seemed to have too little information. For example, a section called Charmed, a lovely full-page spread displaying handmade accessories by various artisans, lists the artists’ Etsy names, but not their store URLs or even any evidence that Etsy is the place where they can be found. Only when I had read through the entire magazine did I find the back page where the lengthy item URLs are listed. I found later, through some experimenting, that links to the stores are embedded in the artists’ names, but nowhere is this made explicit. Including a blurb directly on the page mentioning Etsy, or one mentioning that the URLs could be found in the back, or that the artist names are links, would make things much clearer.

While we’re on the topic of links, it was probably on my third time flipping through this magazine that I began to really pick out all the places where I could click to find things (the first time, I did not even realize this was possible). I would suggest that the editors make links more explicit, perhaps by associating them with a particular color, or by inserting a very small, cute graphic beside links. Since we’re not dealing with HTML here, we don’t have to settle for a boring underline for every link, but we don’t have to treat them as a treasure hunt, either. Not only would this be more user-friendly, but it would tie in some kind of overarching theme from one page to the next.

Another example of “too little information” is the interview with musician Stephanie Yanez. Even when interviewing the biggest stars, most magazines begin with a brief explanation of who the featured individual is, what her accomplishments are, and why we should care about her. I found myself skimming through the interview, trying to determine who she was, and found that the interview questions continued to assume the reader was quite familiar with the artist’s work. It seemed like an odd way to introduce what is likely a little-known musician to her potential listeners. It would have been nice to see the interview coupled with a review of the artist’s music (hopefully by somebody other than the interviewer), as I’ve seen some music-focused magazines do.

As well, I habitually looked for the names of contributors for each article, only to come up disappointed almost every time. In fact, at this point I do not have a clue how many contributers are involved with Sucrerie magazine, or whether the editor does it all herself. If this becomes a regular publication, I want to become familiar with my favorite writers, as I do with other magazines. As well, it would be nice to have a page devoted to the Sucrerie “staff.”

Aside from these issues, while a variety of spelling errors tripped me up, I found it overall to be quite well-done for a start-up amateur work, and one can only hope that they will improve with time.

Content
Here is where I feel that Sucrerie truly excels. At this point in time, English-speaking lolitas have already been gifted with two other magazines: the English Gothic and Lolita Bible, and the now-departed indie publication La Vie en Rose. As the new kid, Sucrerie had to bring something a little different to the table if it was to gain any notice at all. We already know all about tea parties, J-Rock, cupcakes, Alice in Wonderland, and who Mana is. Now we crave something more. Sucrerie chose to present a wide variety of features that are a mix of old standards and interesting new ideas.

Want a handy French manicure tutorial? How about a (mostly fictional) history lesson in aristocrats? Or tips on how to be an eco-friendly lolita? Or a guide to beginner photography?

Carrying on the tradition of the travel feature that was so popular in La Vie, this issue of Sucrerie features the beautiful city of Victoria in BC, Canada. I have an admitted bias for this article, as Victoria is currently my hometown (and for the record, it is every bit as charming as they say). Maybe they’ll let me do a follow-up piece on living in Victoria. 😀

Other fun features include the Ask Alice page, which is kind of a “Dear Abby” for lolitas, as well as the In My Closet section, where we get to take a voyeuristic peek at the contents of another lolita’s closet. The charming final page of the magazine (before credits and the back cover, that is) features 10 Things to do in the New Year, and makes such positive suggestions as learning a new craft or becoming a volunteer. In addition to the articles, the magazine is dotted throughout with poetry.

One area in which Sucrerie does not skimp is in its photography. Street snaps, that old lolita mook favorite, return in the form of Western Lolita Style Watch, a full four pages of reader-submitted shots of single outfits. In addition, this issue features three stunning professional photo shoots. I actually have difficulty choosing a favorite between the three shoots, and again, the format allows the editors to lavishly offer each photo a full page or two-page spread.

Overall, I found Sucrerie to be a valuable addition to the lolita community. Rather than rehashing what’s already been done, the contributors offered up new ideas and interesting discussions for old and new lolitas alike. Sucrerie feels authentic and heartfelt in ways that a corporate publication would have difficulty achieving. I encourage any lolita to take the time to flip through it. With some solid support and enthusiastic contribution, it can only get better.

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Our Lady of Preteens




lolita from Agnes B.

Originally uploaded by alex itin

When I started this blog, I kind of went in with the misguided hope that only those with a knowledge of and interest in lolita fashion would find their way here. Sure, there would be some foreigners casually wandering into our safe fairy tale castle made out of sugar and lace, but they would be harmless beings who quickly found the door when they realized their mistake.

I don’t cater to the uninitiated here. You may notice that I lack the usual disclaimers proclaiming “lolita is not a fetish,” “lolita is not cosplay,” and “lolita has nothing to do with the Nabokov novel by the same name” (although that last point is debatable and very intelligently explored by Yumemiru). After five years in the fashion, it seems silly to still tag this disclaimer onto everything I do. I have no interest in educating the masses.

And then a few days ago, as I was casually skimming my blog stats, I came across a recent search engine term used to find this blog. It went like this: “preteen little nymphets.”

Of course I’m not naive enough to be unaware of people in the world who may be Googling sexually precocious preteens, but the idea of being associated with such gives me the sudden pressing urge to vomit on my shoes. Imagine: my writings, my thoughts, my personal emotions on a page, being read by some creepy pedophile who unintentionally found his way here thanks to some unfortunate wording, when in fact he was looking to get his jollies.

I have had people tell me, “well if you don’t want people to think that, you should have called yourselves something else!”

“But,” I insist back, “it was named by a bunch of Japanese teenagers in the 1980s who probably had no idea what they were talking about. It’s not my fault!” Well, but is it?

Alright, so one of my favorite dorky pleasures is linguistics, so lets take a look at this word objectively as it is used by western lolitas. It is true that western lolitas inherited this name from their Japanese aunties in the lolita world. But it is also true that there are two alternative terms that I have seen used for the fashion, both of which have been employed by western lolitas but are currently shunned by the community at large.

EGL – Ah, EGL. Remember the days when we all thought that this was the technically correct, full name for lolita? And then some smart people were swift to correct us that, in fact, Mana came up with “Elegant Gothic Lolita” to describe only his own line, and that it is simply a derivative term for the much older and more widely-used word “lolita.” True, the acronym involved “lolita” in it, but wasn’t it so convenient to not have to say that part out loud? But there are a few reasons why, even with this convenience, lolitas prefer not to use it. First, it is inaccurate. Lolitas are sticklers for accuracy, and to have their very name be imprecise is simply unacceptable. Second, it has connotations that every lolita is both gothic and elegant, when in fact 80% of lolitas would rather wear pink and baby blue than black. Last of all, it means pretending that all lolitas follow Mana. Non-Mana fans take issue with this, if only to stamp out excessive instances of whiteface.

Gosurori – Ah, this is a fun one. “Gosurori” is a romaji approximation of how the Japanese say and write “goth loli,” or gothic lolita. True, lolita is once again in the title, but how could anybody guess that when you mangle the word with a fake Japanese accent? In addition to that whole “saying we’re all gothic” thing mentioned above, “gosurori” sounds frighteningly weeaboo. If there is one thing lolitas as a whole hate, it is being accused of being a weeaboo. Better to be on nymphet searches than a weeaboo.

So then, we can actually say that, through rejection of the alternatives, the English lolita community did actually choose their name. That doesn’t mean that we can go and choose a different name now, because lolita is entrenched in the language–it is used in the Japanese source material we depend on, as well as our own “official” publications. But more importantly, it is used by the ten thousand or so members of EGL on LiveJournal, as well as the many thousands more who are not part of that community.

So we’re stuck with it–does that mean we have to like it? Maybe not. But maybe we don’t have to be ashamed of it, either. The Yumemiru discussion about the relationship between the fashion and the book “Lolita” makes an excellent argument about the character Dolores being an ordinary girl–not a seductress, as she is portrayed by contemporary media. And in fact, it has been suggested elsewhere that if people are getting the wrong associations from the name due to such misinformation, then why aren’t we talking about the need for society to change its perception, instead of about whether to change the name?

Why is a “Lolita” considered a nymphet, when the character Lolita was a sexually innocent victim? Why, indeed, is there a “lolita complex” and no “humbert complex?” Many girls see lolita fashion as an act of reclaiming femininity. Maybe, while we’re at it, we should reclaim the name lolita for ourselves. Instead of being ashamed of our name, why not celebrate it?

Lolita comes from the name Dolores, which is short for “La Virgen María de los Dolores”, or “Virgin Mary of Sorrows.” This is one of the titles granted to the Virgin Mary (another being the Latin “Mater Dolorosa,” or Mother of Sorrows), referring to the seven sorrows in her life. Whether you subscribe to a Christian faith or not, she is an undeniable symbol of grace and compassion. As the Mother of Sorrows, she is represented with seven swords piercing her heart–an iconic symbol of strength.

This is quite appropriate for lolita fashion, which aims to be nonsexual in appearance. Though perhaps “virginal” is a little too strong a word, there is a strong feeling that lolita should be, in some way, pure. Additionally, lolita is a source of strength–sometimes, it is simply a source of confidence (if only the confidence you need to walk down the street in those frills). Other times, it can be the thing you draw on just to get through your day.

This would not be the first time that lolita adopts a religious symbol for itself, either. La Virgen María de los Dolores is right at home among Moitie’s crosses, Baby’s stained glass print, and the brand name Mary Magdalene, not to mention that unfortunate Juliette et Justine dress depicting Jesus on the cross.

Maybe the symbol doesn’t stretch too far. But for myself, I’m pretty happy to call myself a mini-Our Lady of Sorrows.

And, Mr. Creepy Pedophile with a thing for preteens, I see no reason why I should adjust who I am for you.

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