Friday, December 10, 2010

Get Offa My Lawn! Lolita and Territoriality

I've often said that lolita fashion should be for everyone. I feel that all girls have a princess inside of them waiting to be released, just as we all have Joan of Arcs waiting for something to fight for and Juliets confronted with something worth dying for. Like many lolitas, sometimes when I'm bored in class I sit and imagine dressing up my classmates in frills and petticoats and tiaras, just so they can feel it for themselves once. I'm one of those girls who was elated when brands started making larger sizes, not just for my own purposes, but because it makes this amazing aesthetic so much more accessible to the people who, arguably, may need it most. After graduating high school, I discovered that some of my friends in the class under me were buying their first frills, and instead of feeling replaced or getting hot-headed about having done it first, all I could be was happy to have played any part in introducing lolita to these girls' lives, no matter how small. In conclusion, I'm not one to get territorial over lolita. It's not mine, I don't own it, and therefore I feel no need to keep it all to myself. And anyway, it's kind of silly to try and keep your clothing style to yourself- everyone within a quarter-mile is going to notice a huge, walking cupcake!

But sometimes I feel kind of alone in this. Everyone knows about the cattiness of lolitas, the stereotype that "lolitas are bitches" - I must be mostly meeting the exception to that rule, because a large amount of my lolita friends are even sweeter than I am (though admitted that's not saying much!) It's always seemed to me that lolitas are so harsh on newcomers almost as a form of hazing: if you can prove you can take the heat, you're worth your frills, but if you get offended or hurt, your name will be splattered across the front page of Get Off EGL and maliciously passive-aggressive Secrets will be posted about you. Now, I don't use either of these communities, and I've heard that they're getting much more docile, so maybe this is one of those "Back in MY day..." things; if so, then just assume I am speaking only of the past, commenting on the actions of girls who've grown up or quit the fashion. However, it has always seemed to me that this was almost a way that a newcomer proved she deserved the status of a "lolita;" she was allowed to call herself a lolita only if she could take the ugliness of this fashion as well as the beauty. That's honestly a very poignant sentiment, but what about those girls who can't? They, this argument would have to state, do not deserve any of our beauty. They need to remove their rose-tinted glasses and go back to the grayness of modern life.

Now that doesn't jive with this princess. I'm of this crazy opinion that beauty is beauty, and that it belongs to the whole world, no matter your size or age or ethnicity or religion. That being said, even I get possessive of my lifestyle sometimes. This is my conundrum: I don't think any hopeful should have to pass through some kind of flaming hoop to be considered a follower of this fashion, but on the other hand, one can't just drop everything one day and simply decide to be a lolita. There are even times when I see someone in lolita and I get physically angry; she doesn't deserve this, she doesn't appreciate the beauty she's trying so vainly to emulate. That's the hardest for me, personally; I try my hardest to be non-judgmental in every aspect of my life, especially topics which already garner such hostility as lolita. If I do find myself judging other people, I tell myself that everyone gets exactly what they deserve in life, and if that's a nicer dress or better job than me, so be it. It's normal for people to be jealous or judgmental or territorial over things they love; however, that doesn't mean that these feelings should be indulged, nor does indulging it answer the bigger question.

That question is: why? What good does it do the individual or the group to be so insular? Of course, I'm not saying that people make a conscious effort to be territorial- mostly it's an instinctual way for us to protect what's important to us, and it's not lolita-specific, either. How many times you heard of so-and-so being called a poser because they don't perfectly submit to a certain stereotype? Those who willingly fall under that label make a point to exclude those who don't. Maybe this action is a testament to how much they've given up, e.g. a normal lifestyle, to earn the title of "freak," and anyone who hasn't given that up just doesn't deserve whatever title they're striving for. However, in lolita, while lifestyle-ism is rampant and wholly encouraged (especially by me!), usually, no matter how far into the depths you get, most lolitas do have a non-loli side to them, whether that's the clothes they wear to work or the way they act around their friends. I'm not saying this is bad- quite the contrary! I think it's great- all lolitas have many sides of themselves, just like all people do, so why not express them?

It also means that we're a little more immune to this idea of absolutism: "you're not doing it right" rarely becomes "you're not doing it enough," so while we're definitely more hasty to get territorial than your average Joe, the followers of other subcultures have been known to be even moreso (I'm thinking old school punk or goth here, simply because that's the only other subculture I've ever found myself involved with). Is this to do with the mainstream-ing of lolita fashion? Maybe. Once we're as household of a name as punk, when "cosplay lolita" becomes as common a fashion insult as "mall goth," I wouldn't be surprised if we started getting just as up-in-arms over purism as our alternative fashion predecessors. For now, however, it is important for us to remember that, while territoriality has its place (and I'm not saying we should be all open-arms-y to people who won't understand or appreciate this fashion), but if push comes to shove, I'm certain that she can protect herself just fine without us playing overbearing mothers. Besides- it's not like any of us own this fashion.


  1. Great blog post! I hope that when I (eventually) go to my first meet up I don't get ignored or hated or whatever. I <3 your blog!

  2. Just to put my two cents in, a lot of what ends up on Loli Secret seems like trolling to me. I don't really read it much these days, because it's gotten to the point where most of the secrets are personal attacks (which I thought were banned?). As for getoffegl, most of the people who end up there aren't there because they "look bad" or as a form of "hazing", but because they did something that was either really ignorant (like attacking someone for how they look, whether they were in lolita or not) or because they were caught out as a scammer in the sales community.

    It seems like most of the really nasty drama spawns from other locations, and that at least two of them have died off in recent years.

    Personally, I don't get upset over girls "doing it wrong". It's their business how they look, and even when we're doing it "right", we lolitas look ridiculous to the normal population. What I do get upset about is when a new lolita asks for criticism, and then explodes with "you're just elitist! You brandwhore!" and so on when she actually receives it instead of getting praise and flattery (I'll refrain from naming names, but it's been very common lately on EGL).

    I think that that behavior, more than anything else, is what starts people picking on newbies. Having a nasty attitude is far more likely to get you ripped into than having nasty clothes, I think. There are plenty of lolitas who have worn lace monsters who were treated with respect and civility because they accepted the criticism that they asked for, and likewise plenty of lolitas in brand who were told off for being bitchy.

  3. >Besides- it's not like any of us own this fashion.

    This cannot be more correct. Western lolitas especially make such little contribution and hardly show any participation that they can barely be considered secondary fans.

    It's just the same normal/local community transplanting itself onto a niche/exotic aesthetic. LJ? Seriously? Come on! Nothing to try and one-up each other about. щ(゚Д゚щ)

    Life is too short, so people should stop fussing over details, enjoy what they like, and take it easy~

  4. I agree fashion is not something we own. I admit there are times I judge unkindly, I'm human. I never express them externally because I hate hurting people, even unintentionally.

    I wish girl's would spend less time being catty and more time helping one another.

    Great post (as usual, the Lolita community needs more sweet people like you.

  5. Fashion isn't something that one can claim to own, but on the other hand, I think Fashion should be earned, not handed to you. I worked very hard for my frills. I worked to save for my first dress and only invested in my first dress once I knew what I was doing within this fashions' very bendable rules. I get really irritated with girls who get their parents to buy then their first AP outfit, complete with socks, bag, and jewelry. I honestly get very very angry and find myself snubbing them or ignoring them for the simple fact of 'If one has nothing nice to say, say nothing.'

    I hate to think of myself as one of those girls. I don't talk bad about people behind their backs and I try to help any new girl that enters my Mid-western realm, but there are those...and there are a lot more of then than one would think, that enter the scene in perfect regalia, from their fluffy bonnets to their polished rocking horses, that just get me and I can't help feeling they didn't work for what they have. They didn't go though the, 'Am I doing it Right?' Hazing most of us went though.

    Maybe one day I won't feel this way any longer, but until then....

    Thank you for this Article. It'll give me something to think about, though I tend to be stubborn in my thoughts, I'm willing to bend and change.

  6. ilu for the mustache picture XD <3 <3

    -love, beanfaceanna <3

  7. Thanks for this post. I'll be honest I have been dressing Lolita for almost two years now and still haven't joined sites like EGL b/c I am fearful of what others might say. I dress Lolita to make me feel better I am not going to put myself in a place to make me feel badly about something I love. This puts me in the position though of missing out on some things. It seems like many meet ups are planed through egl and I never seem to learn about them till after the case. Luckly my best friend is there to dress with me but I can say we both can get lonely without other girls to share our afternoon tea with.
    I dream of a Lolita community that excepts everyone no matter if they are "doing it right" or not.

  8. That is a very interesting post. I love the way you see things concering this matter I got to say I sometimes get a bit more territorial than what you describe as your own actions, even though I try a lot to be helpful to new lolitas in my community. I don't mind people doing it wrong, I mind those ones who ask for your opinion or help and get all defensive when you tell them something they didn't want to hear. Those people, I don't give any further attention to and move on.

    As for getoffegl, I am not quite sure about what it was before, I've only known it for a couple of years but I believe that most of its posts are pretty much well deserved nowadays. They deal with bad behaviours and scams mostly.



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