Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Criticizing Constructively

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Lolitas are really given an amazing opportunity these days, what with the internet being as commonplace as it is. Newbies as well as seasoned veterans trying a different style can post pictures of themselves on internet communities ranging in audience and, well, severity (for lack of a better word) to get feedback and tips on how to improve their outfits. That's awesome - it's something that previous eras of fashionistas wouldn't have even dreamt of. With the simplest google search, I can see what's going on in the sartorial scene of any city in the world - Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York City.

However, with this new power we also, as always, receive great responsibility. This responsiblity we call "constructive criticism." The new global nature of all internet fashion communities, especially in the lolita scene, means that politeness is key in maintaining fair international relations - by which I mean don't be a bitch. I haven't seen many problems with this in lolita, to be honest, but let's just think of this post as preventative, okay?

How to Criticize Constructively

First, let's define: Constructive Criticism is, by my own definition, an answer to the question, "what can be done differently next time to better achieve the result you want?" Constructive criticism is well-meaning and graceful; no "YOU'RE UGLY &STUPID &GROSS" here.

Giving constructive criticism

  • Start and end with the positives - this is a tip I learned way back in English class in middle school. It makes a frame of good that softens any negative blow, &generally comes off more well-mannered than ranting about the negatives of the subject (in this case, a daily outfit or coordinate) &throwing in a half-assed compliment at the end. Starting out positively will also give the subject a confidence boost &make them want to listen to what you have to say.
  • Be polite - a good way to do this is with "I" statements- "I'm not a fan of the socks with that skirt," or "I think pink would go better with your complexion than blue." "You" statements sound accusatory - "You should wear pink instead of blue cause it'd look better," or "You shouldn't wear OTK socks because it makes your thighs look huuuuge!!" Of course, these are very extreme examples,but the idea is still true. "I" statements are opinions, while "you" statements are judgements, or at least that's how most people feel (or so I have read!)
  • Embellishments like emoticons or exclamation points should be used to make positive statements stand out more - again, they can look accusatory or angry when paired with negative statements.

Accepting constructive criticism gracefully

  • Always be greatful for the opinion, even if you disagree - if you didn't want them, you shouldn't have posted to a public forum! (Personal fashion blogs I consider a different story - something posted to your friends page via daily_lolita can be hard to ignore, but on an entirely different website that readers have to go out of their way to look at, post whatever you want. Go crazy. in b4: this is not my personal fashion blog.)
  • Listen to the suggestions you receive - somethings you don't notice things that other people do. Sure, you adore your new Innocent World blouse, but maybe you don't realize that the buttons gap a bit at the bust - listen to that person telling you it might look better with a JSK than a skirt!
  • Don't get offended! Except in extreme cases such as cyberbullying, usually your critics just mean the best &aren't trying to hurt your feelings, no matter how crass they may phrase it.
  • In summary: Listen, smile &nod, consider their suggestions but don't try to please everyone- remember, this is your own personal fashion statement, &you should only be wearing things that make you happy. If you receive too much negetive feedback to the point where you don't want to wear what makes you happy anymore, maybe you should stop posting photos on those communities or forums - I will never tell you to stop wearing things you like! However, as I've said before, respect yourself - if you know posting pictures at a certain website will get you nothing but flack, find somewhere else to share - like I said above, a personal fashion blog is great for this purpose. I started one a while ago for my non-lolita fashion, and even though I don't update it nearly as often as I update here, it's a nice change from articles &outfits that are so compartmentalized as they are in lolita - for anyone who's curious, it's here: trespass.urged - can't believe I never linked to that here before! I'm probably secretly ashamed of how neglected it is.

Now that I've waxed poetic on the joys of blogging and completely deviated from my original topic, I'll leave you with a summary to remind you of what i was actually supposed to be talking about: don't be offended, and don't offend. Play nice with others. Treat others as you'd like to be treated - all that jazz. Do it for karma, if you have to justify it somehow. Just do it.

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