On Being Lolita: Your Attention Please …Or Not

On Being Lolita: Your Attention Please …Or Not

A few weeks ago, when I was waiting for a bus, a gentleman approached me and asked what I was wearing. My response in such a situation is always, “Oh, I just like to dress up.” He answered, “Huh. You must like attention.”

This seems to be a common impression of lolita by outsiders. It’s understandable–even a more subdued classic outfit or one in hues other than bright pink stands out in the crowd. When I look out the windows from my office, most people look somewhat the same: jeans and shirts, sometimes black or gray business suits, and the occasional person who lives in sweatpants. It’s rare to see groups in completely identical outfits, but other than very slight changes they seem to wear the same style. This is why I rarely notice what the person who passed me on the street is wearing–my senses are automatically filtering it out. However, the boy with neon pink hair or the girl with a halo of safety pins piercing her left ear catches my eye. Regardless of whether it is intentional or not, anything beyond the norm is attention-grabbing.

However, I don’t wear lolita fashion because I crave attention–and I don’t think most lolita do, either. I’m much happier when I glide through the crowds, passers-by turning a blind eye and pretending that I’m not pink and fluffy, than when there are stares, comments, questions, or blundered attempts at stealth-photography. After all, I’m not dressing up for anyone else–I’m dressing up because I like it!

It takes a certain type of courage to wear lolita fashion, because it isn’t often accepted or even admired. Strangers will puzzle over your “costume,” balk at the mere mention of the fashion’s name–immediately associating the style with the pop-culture interpretation of the famous novel, text candid pictures of you to their friends to ridicule, grumble if your skirt accidentally brushes into them when passing in a narrow corridor, or insult you to your face because you aren’t “fitting in.” Thankfully not all reactions are bad, but you can never gauge who will say or do what when you go where.

However, I’m sure there are some lolita who revel in the attention–whether it is positive or negative–and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Assumptions and stereotypes aren’t a reliable manner of reference, one way or another.

The stranger who approached me at the bus stop didn’t care enough to listen to any explanations on my part, so I let the topic die without protesting. It stuck with me, though, as something I mulled over during my bus ride. I do expect a different level of attention when wearing frills, although I don’t look forward to it. I get the impression that this is a common sentiment, but I can only speak for myself.

Do you wear lolita fashion because you want attention, or do you consider the attention a negative “side-effect” of wearing the style? Do most people you encounter think that you are trying to get attention?

7 thoughts on “On Being Lolita: Your Attention Please …Or Not

  1. I'm shy, so I rather dislike all the attention I get when going out in Lolita.
    My mom often asks me why I wear clothes that are guaranteed to get people's attention then, but I don't want to stop dressing how I want to just because some people stare and make rude comments!

    I don't think it should be me who was to change and wear normal clothes just to I fit in, but people who should become more tolerant – at least a little bit.

  2. I dress up DESPITE the attention, not FOR the attention. To be honest, I hate the attention and wish it would stop! I don't harass others about their outfits, and they shouldn't do it to us either.

  3. I'm quite shy too and that's why though I've known lolita for quite some time, I never dared wearing it until recently. Going out dressed in lolita was tough, but the feeling of being beautiful, wearing what I liked was stronger in the end. Yesterday was my first time wearing OTT sweet in the street and I was not ashamed, lolita gave me strength and self confidence. I got stares, glares, laughing in my back but neverming, I feel beautiful and really myself through my clothes, that's the most important.
    I find "normal" clothes so sad, everyone is wearing black, grey, even though there are many trends for this summer, everyone is wearing the same thing…well it's sad

  4. I don't dress in Lolita for the attention, like you I only dress for myself because it makes me happy.
    However, I do have to say that I rather like getting the glances and stares. I don't seek attention – I'm perfectly happy without it – but I don't mind that I get it either. I always like to imagine that I've given someone a little out-of-the-ordinary beauty for a tiny moment, maybe those girls who sneered 'at the weirdo' were actually captivated and intrigued! Or at least a happy moment as they laugh at my stupidity for dressing in a big frilly skirt. C:

  5. Alice,

    I completely agree with you on the topic. If it was attention we seeked, we'd probably be dressed like hookers. ):

    My mum is constantly trying to get me to wear other clothes; I think it's for my own safety, as she's seen how rude people can be regardless of how many friends I have with me.

    People like routine.
    People don't like things that stray from the norm.
    I think people just really don't know what to think. 😛

  6. I wear lolita, because it makes me happy, not because of attention. I hate when people have that misconception. I don't see why so many people see being normal as a rule.

  7. Wow, I really appreciate all the responses! I didn't expect there would be so many~ ♥

    @ asuka ☆: I would also like to see people be more tolerant.

    @ E: I also agree–harassment over something like clothing is just silly. u_u

    @ Anya: Feeling beautiful while wearing your clothing is definitely most important. ♥ I feel that's the strongest reason to wear lolita–to feel good about being yourself!

    @ Kylix: It is fun to bring some sunshine into other people's lives~ My husband likes to see little girls faces' light up when I pass by; he's always pointing it out.

    @ Morgan: It sounds like your mom has your best interests in mind, even if you ultimately can't change yourself and do what she'd prefer you do. n_n People are far too critical of anything "different," even when it's harmless!

    @ Kaitlyn: I'd love to experience a future where "normal" isn't so well-ingrained anymore, and there's more room for creative expression! I feel like people follow what everyone else does without even wondering why.

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