What is Lolita?
Imagine you’ve taken a trip to exotic Japan. You are excited to learn about their culture: the food, the music, the literature, and the fashion. All of a sudden you catch a glimpse of someone that looks like she just stepped of a movie set about the French Rococo Era. Who is she? An actress just stepping off a movie set? Or maybe a model? A life-sized doll? Actually, a life sized porcelain doll is really the look she was going for. Pail skin framed by a mountain of curls and matched with delicate lace, bundles of ruffles and petticoats. Though the fashion did descend from Europe, the young girls of modern day Japan have raised the hemline off the floor and to the knee. Other alterations have been made as well, the basic Mary Jane shoe has graduated into a platform heel. The lace and frills survived though. This trend became popular 1980 Harajuku Japan. On the weekends the streets were cleared for music festivals, shopping, and to socialize. The street performers began to appear in wildly extravagant outfits. These styles developed in several different directions, including lolita. Several street photographers gathered to take pictures of these unusual events. Not long after these affairs became popular, the photos were published in local news papers and magazines. These styles shocked the public eye- being that they were such an extreme departure from the traditional kimono and yukata of Japan the lolita phase swept through like a virus. As the styles blew up, stores such as ‘Baby, The Stars Shine Bright’, ‘Angelic Pretty’, ‘Alice and The Pirates’ as well as others emerged as the clothes became marketable. The boutiques started off as far and few between, but soon a multitude of them turned up in every Japanese city. In the 90’s the trend carried to Russia, and stretched to England and France. Finally in the 2000’s Lolita landed in America. This style shocked western culture far more than it did the Japanese, and soon the western opinion took a strenuous toll on the up coming lolita fashion.
Though the title ‘Lolita’ did come from Vladimir Nabokov’s western novel, the subculture and the book share nothing in common. The novel itself features a middle aged man who has an obsession with a 12 year old girl who he nicknames ‘Lolita’; he develops a sexual relationship with her when he becomes her stepfather. While that is slightly disturbing, the Lolita fashion has almost no sexual connotation to it; par from some fetishes, like the lolita novel. However, most men don’t actually find the trend to be attractive, but mostly weird. Often teenage boys of Japan look at their female peers and scratch their heads. In one essay where an interview traveled to Harajuku and asked males from the ages 15-21 what they thought of the ‘lolita’ look on their friends and classmates. In one conversation recorded the questioner asked:
Yuki magazine: The fashion world has really taken an unusual turn. Goyza Ryo (17): I know, a lot of these costumes look like they came strait out of a manga! It’s kinda strange. Y.M.: So you’re not a fan of this up coming fashion?
Goyza: I don’t know if I would consider it fashion.
Y.M: What do you consider fashion?
Goyza: I guess clothes and stuff that everyone likes.
Y.M: Well do any of your other friends like lolita dresses?
Goyza: I have a few girl friends that like them, but all of my guy friends think its silly. Y.M: But your girlfriend likes it?
Goyza: No you misunderstand, I have a friend who’s a girl who wears that stuff, but I wouldn’t like it if my girlfriend wore it. Y.M: So you wouldn’t date a lolita girl?
Goyza: I don’t know, I’m not attracted by stuff like that. It’s just too weird, I like normal clothes better. Y.M: What about your friends?
Goyza: I think most of my guy friends feel the same way. I heard some guys at school talking about a lolita classmate and that said they really didn’t like it. They...
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