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?