It’s no secret that...Lolita a Lolita January 2012
This month, Sherry and Cookies asked you to tell the world what’s been bothering you about the Lolita community, what your worries were, what you think needs to be changed. The goal of the Lolita a Lolita project is for you to be able to (figuratively) pick up the phone and have a conversation with the community as a whole, or rather, whoever reads this blog. ;)
The following wonderful young ladies were the first brave to volunteer to share with us. Their stories are inspiring, thought-provoking, joyous, and heart breaking. I have the utmost respect for every one of them, as will I for all future participants. Since I had a much better response than I expected, Lolita a Lolita will continue on! The prompt for February and the rules will be at the end of this post.
Since conversations have more than one person speaking, I gladly welcome discussion in the comments. Feel free to address any of the posters or myself individually. However, any comments that harass or attack in any form, will be removed immediately.
Without further ado, hear what some of your peers have to say:
1. Victoria Suzanne of Parfait Doll
For January, the theme proposed is ‘It’s No Secret That…’, where you end the sentence with some not-so-secret-secret that we don’t like to talk about in the Lolita world. I took it to be the proverbial pink elephant in the room. Running with the ‘secret’ theme, I decided to discuss something I’d usually not mention: loli_secrets.
First, the backstory: loli_secrets is a community hosted on Livejournal that updates every Sunday with ‘secrets’ in the manner of Post Secret. When it was started (and yes, I was there and I remember, so get me my walker) it was supposed to be a place where we could discuss the lolita issues we didn’t want to admit straightforward. It was, as conceptualized, very much Post Secret for lolitas. Lolitas expressed how they wanted lolita friends, that they didn’t feel pretty, all kinds of quiet whisperings that ranged from touching to joyful to heartbreaking.
As loli_secrets evolved, the power of anonymity took over and the secrets became not-so-secret after all. First there were the general hate secrets, such as ‘I hate x race of girls in lolita’, or ‘I hate sweet lolitas’, etc. Next came the ‘All my friends know who I’m talking about but I just want to anonymously rip this ‘not-naming-names’ person to shreds.’ And finally, the moderators eventually lifted the ban on ‘personal attacks’ and the real vitriol spewed out: now, anyone could take a photo of you off the Internet, slap some insults on it in MS Paint, and upload it anonymously for the entire community to see (and by entire community, I mean the 19,478 registered egl members. No biggie.) Now, plenty of personal attacks appear every week, just like the Sunday comics.
I haven’t read loli_secrets in ages. As soon as personal attacks started coming out, I was gone. Not only did the entire Secret Sunday process give me ogida, something akin to waiting on a vaccine in the doctor’s room, but the personal attacks were the last straw. Seeing a not-so-secret secret is one thing, where you can at least pretend it’s maybe not about you. Seeing your face, or the face of your friends, scribbled over is quite a different matter. The scribbling being that the author hopes you will be mercilessly brained with a toilet seat. (True story.)
But, before you think that it’s only the ‘e-famous’ lolitas who end up plastered all over the weekly secrets, think again. I just read a brief blog post by a lolita whose photo was used for a secret. It wasn’t exactly a personal attack – it didn’t disparage her personality and her face and her inability to coordinate. Instead, the secret-maker professed that she was scared to wear lolita as a plus-size girl, lest she look like that. It doesn’t matter whether you are a big name or a fairly keep-to-yourself lolita. If you’re online, in any capacity, you can be a target. Post photos on the community? Sure. The daily outfit shot communities? Yes. Tumblr? Yes. Your friends-only Facebook account? You bet. That photo you posted to Blurty six years ago? I’m sure someone can be bothered to dig it up. The longer you have been in the scene, the more likely it is that someone has started anonymous hate about you.
I recently introduced one of my new lolita friends to the concept of loli_secrets. After a few pages, she reported back to me: “You know, it’s this kind of stuff that really kills my poof boner.” What she meant, ahem, is that this kind of negative, for lack of a better word, crap, really takes the enthusiasm out of lolita. Maybe it’s because we all want to imagine we live in a sparkly pink world where all the lolitas are at the best tea party (doubtful, but hey, there are always the cries of ‘But lolitas are supposed to be nice!’). But seeing as this friend is a very down-to-earth punk lolita, I would doubt that she believes we’re all playing Disney Princess here. I think, more realistically, the reason that loli_secrets is so harmful to the lolita community as a whole has more to do with courage. When we get up the courage to wear lolita, we expect to take a few shots from the ordinary world. We expect that maybe we don’t look fabulous, on top of our game. But we tried, and we were brave, and that… that feels like a million bucks. And nothing takes the wind out of your sails to find out that, after feeling you were finally victorious, that hundreds of your own are really laughing at you.
The undercurrent of backstabbing weakens the community. The mess of drama and secrets is harmful because it pits us against each other. It builds a real structure to female competition and bullying, online and in real life. When you do finally go to a meetup and meet new girls, there is an unspoken thought bubble in the air: What have you heard about me? Another of my friends reads the secrets just out of the compulsive desire to know what people are saying about her. I’d rather not know at all, though I assume there are plenty of them for me. How do can we foster the intention of making friends and sharing interests when there’s already preconceived notions about who’s a bitch and who’s a stupid fat-ass?
The subculture is supposed to be about a shared interest in fashion. We all swoon over the same poofy dresses and teddy-bear hairclips and curly wigs. Unfortunately, it often seems what ties us to the culture is not the love of fashion but the jealousy we have of each other. Lolita fashion is not online, wrapped up in Internet culture and message boards. Lolita fashion does not need the Internet to exist. Egl is not the world.
Lolita fashion is for you and what you make of it. Don’t be afraid to make it your own, into whatever makes you happy, in the real world. And don’t let anyone – anonymous secret-makers with bad MS Paint skills especially – tell you otherwise.
It’s no secret that everyone loves gossip, but I feel like EGL Secrets and other types of online communities such as these simply just perpetuate drama. I wish lolitas would stop paying attention to these kinds of communities. If we could all agree to ignore it, maybe it would go away. But by so much as looking at those places, we just help to feed into the drama. They offer nothing but hurt feelings.
Couldn’t we be doing something better with our time? Can’t we concentrate on fostering a warmer community and spread more positive messages? Personally, I don’t involve myself with the online community anymore at all because of the rampant drama those type of places spurred. We are already a subculture that has to deal with criticism from the rest of the world; we do not need to deal with it within our community as well. Worry about yourself and if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
3. Val of Pink Tanpopo Designs
4. Miss Anonymous
It's not a secret that lolita unconsciously promotes many things that society considers to generally be a bad thing outside of lolita. It's well known that lolita brands cater to teeny tiny Asian girls. This unknowingly promotes eating disorders in the West. I see many girls talking anonymously about how they wish they were smaller or asking for advice on how to be anorexic and it scares me. I've seen girls listing their measurements and many girls, including myself, become slightly jealous of those that are smaller.
There is a lot of peer pressure within the lolita community to own brand. This comes from the Japanese culture and how brand oriented they are, which comes from their belief that if an item is more expensive, it will be better for their economy. This belief has been instilled in them since they tried to recover after World War 2 and it hasn't changed since. The Japanese do not generally think individually, but think as a whole. Therefore, whatever is good for the group is good for the individual. And, with lolita being from Japan, it is my belief that many of their specific cultural beliefs came with the fashion when it became more popular in the West and these thoughts and ideals were just accepted, with no further thought about them.
With brands being so small, this makes girls want to starve themselves to fit into it and it's sad. It makes girls hate their bodies. We become more conscious of our bodies and our sizes and our flaws. Even though I myself am considered to be very small (In fact, many people frequently remark on how tiny I am), I still often catch myself wanting to be smaller. I weigh myself more frequently now that I've gotten into lolita then I ever have before. Occasionally, I find myself looking at pro-ana websites and wanting to dive into it. I never actually take the steps to do it, but it scares me to notice myself thinking about it and I never had any thoughts like this until I got into lolita. I want to be smaller than I am. I feel all the layers of lolita make me look bigger than I am, and I want to be smaller so I'll at least appear as small as I am now when in lolita.
Not only am I more conscious about my weight and more sensitive about it, but lolita also made me become more conscious and sensitive about my looks. I never in my life strived for perfection in my looks as I do with lolita. I'm always trying out new ways to make myself look like the perfectly flawless porcelain doll that many lolitas want to look like.
I no longer feel that I'm beautiful unless I look perfect. I hate blemishes and spend nearly an hour doing my makeup alone just to cover them up. I dislike my natural hair because it is difficult to style and to make look perfect, and with my makeup already taking up so much time, I don't feel like spending time on my hair too often.
90% of the time, I wear a wig when I wear lolita. It's already styled and much easier and quicker to manage. I even cover up blemishes on my hands, knees, or chest (if those areas are showing while I'm in lolita). I never hated my smile or any of my other tiny flaws I have as I do now, after lolita. I spend a few minutes in Photoshop on EVERY photo just to remove those tiny blemishes. I don't think my photos look good otherwise. I'm not perfect!
Lolita changed my views on A LOT of things. I prefer to be pale white now and put a lot of effort into assuring that my skin does not get any sun. I use 100+ SPF sun block and a parasol almost daily. Lolita makes a lot of girls do things to themselves that they probably did not do before lolita. In most cases, these things are not good things.
Many fashion cultures have similar secrets, but I believe that many of these secrets are unique to lolita, due to the fashion coming from a venue that is unlike those of many other common fashions seen in the West, including other sub cultural fashions that may have their own secrets. Lolita is unique, this is very obvious, and therefore, lolita has many secrets of its own.
Thank you again to the ladies who supported S&C in the first month of this project and sharing your hearts with us. Everyone is more than welcome to share in any/all of the future prompts as well, which leads me to...
Although they seem to be far and few between these days, too many acts of frilly kindness go unnoticed. If you've been a reader of my blog for a while now, you know that I often like to talk about my friends and the amazing kindness inside their hearts. Since February is the month of love, tell me about the kindest thing you have witnessed another Lolita doing. It could be anything from encouraging words that changed your perspective or grand gestures that brought you to (happy) tears.
Unless you have her or his permission, please leave this person nameless. (Of course, asking permission is encouraged so that this person can receive credit for her or his awesomeness.) As with January's prompt, you can write or make a video. Feel free to include pictures, again, as long as you have permission to use them and you can credit the photographer or illustrator if they are not your own. Please remember to keep everything family friendly and honor the respect of everyone that is involved in your story. If they do not want it shared, please do not embarrass them.
Send your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For text, you can copy/paste it in the email, or send me the document file. (The format does not matter. I am pretty sure my processor will open all word processing file types.) For videos, please upload your video to YouTube, and send me the link. Make sure you don't disallow embedding. For pictures, Please send me the actual file. I will upload it to my Flickr at the time I post the entry so it is easy for me to keep everything together.
Submissions are due Monday, February 20 2012 since February is a short month.
I hope you are feeling inspired by Lolita a Lolita thus far and I can't wait to see next month's submissions!
Love and Sparkles,
(P.S. I have no idea why blogger is doing these awful formatting things to me. ;-; I'll get to the bottom of it soon.)