December 7, 2013

International Lolita Day - Fond memories

As most of you will know, today is our very own holiday, International Lolita Day, a worldwide celebration of our fashion and subculture. I decided for this day not only to dress to the nines, of course, and go ice Skating with the lovely Yaocha Li, whom I met at university, but also to write something thoughtful about my experience of lolita, where it took me, and my hopes for the future.
 I started this blog in the hope of not only posting about the fashion aspect of our subculture, but also my thoughts and reflections, so this post will be a little different!

Strictly speaking, I started lolita when I was 15,  though I would only consider these past four years as having properly managed the style. Building a wardrobe and gaining skills in coordinating takes time!

I started at a time where I believed I should live for others. As a prospective profession, I only considered doctor or researcher, for fear of being selfish, as I perceived were thoses designers or celebrities I didn't much like.
As I said, I was afraid of being selfish when I started lolita. I struggled a little with thinking I was being frivolous and it all really had no point. Until I realised: it made me happy. Simply.
I did set myself "rules": I wouldn't buy what I couldn't make myself, even with my limited skills (I had started sewing lessons). I also wouldn't let myself be taken in by consumer mentality and be uncritical or spend carelessly. To this day I keep in mind that promise to myself (although since they have become my everyday clothes, I do spend more on it!)

Lolita, along with cosplay, was my motivation to learn a new skill which in turn became a full fledged passion, which in all likelihood will be my livelihood. Sewing, lolita, and costume making has led me to understand that there is value in creating beauty and appreciating it. It requires time and skills, and insofar as people involve themselves physically and emotionally in it, it has its own worth.
I made friends in different countries through the community, had a million positive experiences, faced challenges and strengthened myself against negativity.

Maybe you have heard of something called the infantilization of culture: making things cute and seemingly innocent which in turn hides the negative aspect of what is promoted and crowds easier to manipulate by keeping them in a child's mentality. Though on a larger scale and other topics, I don't intend to argue with the sense in that, I would like to disagree with it on a individual level. Lolita came to me at first as an elegant, demure fashion -  the so-called elegant gothic lolita. It was only later that I became interested in  OTT sweet and that it became popular. So in this sense, lolita was in no way a means of staying childlike. (On a side note, this also refutes the theory that Lolita be associated with Nabokov: take a look at old-school: it has the name lolita, but you'd never associate it with the novel, right?)

Lolita didn't make me stay a child. Instead, I find lolita made me grow. I started out like everyone, I suppose, dabbling in the style as best I could with limited funds, knowledge, and support. Yet as time passed, I found myself more involved, read thought-provoking critiques by loita writers. I started my own  blog, giving me confidence that I too had something  I could say that might interest others.

Besides, I don't believe any of us partaking in the fashion are following sheep. Manipulated? Hmm... The blind brand-whore is a myth, I think each of us has a critical approach to our personal tastes; we have mind enough to know what we like and dislike, regardless of what brand came up with it. So I wouldn't consider us to be manipulated to buy anything and everything. Manipulated to ignore larger issues? All the lolitas I met were intelligent, aware, curious people who supported various ideals and faught for causes, main ones being bullying, sexism, racism, LGBT rights... I see savvy business dealers who can negotiate, interpreters who taught themselves a new language, and skilled craftspeople. Though we relate between us on the level of fashion, I wouldn't say we are blind and superficial consumers.

Today, I have gone from a very uncertain, shy and unconfident girl to a decisive, confident woman, one others have said they look up to.
Although it may seem single minded to pursue lolita in this way, it had so many facets for me that it made me grow exponentially in so many domains: art, literature, crafts, japanese language...

I am not even considering stopping wearing lolita, but the question comes up often. Whatever I choose to do in the future, however, I know one thing: I won't laugh at myself and say: "Oh I used to be lolita", the way people scoff at themselves sometimes when they say they had "a goth phase" or were emo.. I can't help but think: haven't you any memories that you cherished from then? Didn't you do those things for a reason? Certainly it built the person you are today?  Don't be unfaithful to yourself. If you turn your affections elswhere, don't dismiss your past. What you were makes you who you are - I kept the first lolita skirt that I made and never altered it.

So on this international lolita day, I would like to remember all this, and keep it in mind that lolita is part of me, and I hope it brought you as much as it did you!

 The first lolita I ever saw

 I remember these being among the first as well. I believe they are all Kera or Fruits snapshots

 So happy International Lolita Day!

gif from creamycandii