On Being Lolita: When Courage Fails–Keep Going

On Being Lolita: When Courage Fails–Keep Going

This weekend was a whirlwind of fun and lolita activities. I missed out on a very lovely tea with a lot of girls in the area, but did find a way to keep myself occupied in the meantime. A friend of mine has been continually reminding me that she owns a Hello Kitty waffle maker, which is basically one of the greatest things ever invented even though it isn’t a high-quality appliance. So Saturday, since I couldn’t attend the tea party with everyone else (the upcoming Dolpa, which I finally registered for yesterday, has made my pocketbook cry) I took her up on her offer and went over for waffles.

I carefully selected my outfit, styled my hair, and prepared to leave; everything was going well. Yet for some reason, when I locked the door behind me I felt afraid. Every step towards the train station made me nervous, despite the fact that I’ve worn lolita fashion in public alone for years. Sometimes, negativity gets the better of me and makes me ashamed and nervous about being myself. Before I started wearing lolita fashion I was extremely shy and perpetually frightened of just about everything. Finding the courage to wear clothing that wasn’t “accepted” brought me a skill that has impacted my entire life in a positive way.

Then sometimes, experience seems to melt away and I feel like I’m going out for the first time again, worrying fretfully about what strangers might say or do. There’s no easy way to deal with that kind of anxiety, but I refuse to let it get the better of me. I like myself more when I’m not terrified needless of everything around me. I have more fun and enjoy a more fulfilling life if I’m not holed up in my room. I want to wear my frilly clothing while enjoying the other things I like to do.

I absolutely adore the movie Dune, and recently read the novel by Frank Herbert. (Although I couldn’t come up with a sufficient connection to write a book review about it here~) Whenever I am afraid of something I always think of the often-repeated quote that states:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

In the book this is the Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear,” but it has a practical application even if you aren’t trapped in a moisture-deprived planet amidst possibly-hostile native peoples after the assassination of most of your family and closest friends while different warring political powers seek to destroy or control you for powers you may-or-may-not be bred to have. n_~

The thing that makes me most uncomfortable when I’m wearing lolita fashion are not whispers or shouted commentary, but laughter. Sometimes I will walk past someone or they will walk past me, and immediately I’ll hear a chorus of laughter. I always think they are laughing at me, and although I don’t value the opinion of a random stranger, I feel ridiculed and embarrassed. There’s a human tendency to assume that everyone else is paying attention to you and notices every mistake you make, since you notice it, but usually this is not the case and others don’t notice at all. However, it’s very hard not to notice something like lolita fashion, so I worry that my suspicions are correct.

But even if I am correct, it shouldn’t matter to me. I don’t want to limit myself to wearing lolita fashion only where no-one else might judge me. I don’t want to hide. So, even on those types of days, I look straight ahead and walk confidently–even if that confidence is entirely pretended. I’m very glad that I didn’t run back inside and change my clothes, because although I would have avoided the confused or disdainful stares, muffled commentary shouted from passing cars, and real or imaginary chuckles, I would have missed the broad smile and exclamation of “Look at your bad self!” when I stepped off the train near my destination.

There may come a day when I won’t wear lolita fashion, so I want to make it count and enjoy the most of it while I can!

On Being Lolita: Why Not Every Day?

On Being Lolita: Why Not Every Day?

Whenever someone asks me if I “dress like that” every day, I wish I could say, “♥★♥★♥YES!♥★♥★♥” (Even better if a shower of sparkles could emanate from me in a halo~)

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, no matter how many stars I implore. I used to tell myself that it’s because I can’t afford to wear lolita fashion on a daily basis–I can’t afford to buy enough garments to outfit me for more than a few days, and I can’t afford the time and cost launder them properly. I would tell myself that I’d worry too much about ruining my nicest clothes–I can’t wear it every day for practicality. I used to say that I didn’t have time to get dressed up on a daily basis–I can’t wear lolita fashion every day because it would take too long. I’d insist that wearing lolita constantly would be tiring–I can’t put forth the effort. I’d think of all these excuses and convince myself that there was something about me that meant prevented me from doing what I wanted to do.

Sometimes, you have to make a choice–do I wear what I want or do I wear what is accepted/appropriate/expected? As much as it would be fun to always wear what I want, I make many clothing decisions based on the wants of other people. My job doesn’t have a strict dress code, but all the same I can’t wear a formal lolita coordination in my style. My clients and coworkers have expectations about what is to be worn at work–and even if I could explain to them what the fashion is and what it means to me, it would add another layer of connotations and impressions of me. I want those who interact with me to remember me for my work ethic and disposition–not for being “the weird girl.”

Similarly, I don’t wear lolita to class. I’m studying at business school, hoping to enter a field that is very conservative and traditional. I certainly wouldn’t be hired if I wore lolita fashion to a job interview, and because of this I don’t wear lolita fashion to class on a regular basis. Sometimes I just can’t help myself–especially if I’m taking a class that is an elective as opposed to required for my specialization–but usually I try to dress like my classmates. My professors and any special guests that might come to the class are all potential business contacts; I want their impressions of me to be free of biases due to my clothing habits.

Some people would consider my actions to be cowardly, conformist, or weak–and for the most part, I agree. After all, it takes quite a bit of courage to be true to yourself even when outside forces are against you. However, it is hard to make and act upon a decision to restrain or unfurl yourself, regardless of the final choice. If I wore lolita fashion constantly, I know that it would close doors to different choices in my life. I make a choice to limit my self-expression to avoid limiting my opportunities, but I’d much rather have both than one or the other; I want to be a constantly complete “me.”

However, I can’t guarantee that I will want to wear lolita fashion forever. I won’t make decisions based only on that aspect if I have to endure the future consequences after things have changed. With this constantly in mind, it’s a bit confusing to maintain a balance in my life of enjoying the things I want to do and working at the things I have to do. (If only they were one and the same!)

I greatly admire those who wear lolita fashion (or any alternative fashion!) on a daily basis. Putting your frilliest foot forward isn’t simple. Some people will fawn over your expression; others will chide or exclude you. It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurdles and withstand biases that would be otherwise nonexistent if only you’d change your clothes!

Sometimes I consider revising my goals, so that I could wear lolita fashion every day. If I aimed for a different career, applied for a new job, and transferred to another school, it would remove some of the restrictions on my clothing choices. Would that really be the right thing to do? Not for me. If I must compromise, it will be on my clothing, not my future–that is how my priorities are arranged. Despite this decision, I still worry that at some point that wearing lolita fashion will have a negative impact on my career… but not enough to stop wearing it.

Almost everything in life is best when there is a balance. This is how mine is working out, at least for now. I can’t even imagine what will happen ten years from now!

On Being Lolita: The Merit of Courage

On Being Lolita: The Merit of Courage

Wearing lolita fashion can be extremely nerve-wracking, regardless of sub-style. Some people are blessed with incredible self-confidence, able to conduct themselves how they please without the creeping fears of being humiliated. Others, myself included, are not so lucky. The outlandishness of lolita clothing makes it as much of a target for unkind words as other extreme styles, but the reputation of “other lolita” certainly doesn’t help. It is one thing to be mocked by strangers–another thing entirely to be mocked by fellow devotees.

Newcomers to the fashion often ask the question: “How can you wear lolita in public?” There is no secret; the only thing necessary is courage.

It takes courage to step out onto a busy street without fearing other people’s reactions to your attire. It takes courage to hold your head high instead of breaking into tears when a crude comment shoots your way. It takes courage to put on a petticoat and hairbow and step outside again when you know that others will mistreat you. It takes courage to meet new people and do new things, no matter what the context.

The most important part, not just about lolita fashion but about any fashion, is feeling comfortable in your clothing. This may not happen immediately when that clothing is something so far from what you may have worn before. I often notice that lolita who wear other bold styles, such as gothic or punk, are less daunted by the prospect of being out and about in their clothing, and I believe it is because most of them have already conquered most of their fears about going against what is “normal” for fashion. If this is one’s first taste of being a black sheep, it can be very daunting!

Recently I took a bit of an involuntary break from wearing lolita fashion, because I moved into a new place and my clothing was left along the wayside for several months. When I finally dressed up again, I felt most of the nervousness that I thought I had lost return to me. As happy as I felt to be wearing my beloved frills again, I worried about what my landlord might think, about what passersby might say, and so forth.

Here are a few tips that I use to help get over that oppressive sinking feeling when fear has taken hold:

  • Stand up straight and tall, and smile! If I act like I am confident, even if I am shaking inside, it is easier to go about my business without thinking too much about my worries. Standing erect and having a pleasant expression exudes an attitude that makes one less of an easy target to pick on.
  • Bring a friend! I find that I think less about what other people might be thinking if I am engaged in conversation with a friend. There is strength in numbers.
  • Remember that strangers have their own lives. They’re not likely to dwell too very much on one odd-looking stranger, so don’t waste time focusing on what goes on in their heads. Keep your thoughts focused on the fun you are having or will have, or other pleasantries.
  • Ignore unkind comments. Arguing with some foul-tongued onlookers is a waste of time and energy. If they’re apt to be cruel, it’s best to move from their presence as quickly as possible. That’s not to say that it’s improper to stand up for oneself, but avoid drawing deeper into an escalating conflict.

The very best way to acclimate yourself to wearing lolita is to do it. Discover how far you can take yourself, and then test your boundaries every once in a while. If you love the clothing but are simply too shy to be seen in public (or you worry about being spotted by co-workers, friends, or schoolmates), pack your frills and change into them at your destination. Walking around with a full “flock” of fully-attired lolita is much less nerve-wracking than being alone.

Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let yourself be unsafe. Whispers or mean comments can wound pride, but anything physical cannot be prevented by courage alone. Do your best to know how the people around you behave. If you live in a bigoted place where you might be threatened for your fashion choices, act responsibly.

Just don’t let unfounded anxiety keep you from fun!