|Source: cropped picture from The Lolita Guide Book|
**It's been a while since I've posted, but that's because this past week was Holy Week, and I've been busy celebrating. Because of this, this post is very close to two weeks overdue!**
I don't know about you, but, I like the references I use to be the least patronizing and opinionated as possible. Though, this can be a hard task when the people creating references surpass their initial task as an informer to become that of a critic, with I find to be a great problem with the new Lolita reference guide, The Lolita Guide Book.
Almost a decade after the the initial Lolita Handbook debuted in 2006, a new Lolita Guide Book has surfaced in a means to represent the current direction the fashion has been moving toward. Looking from a larger spectrum, I agree with the guide's purpose. The handbook from 2006 is outdated and deserves to be modernized. However, this guide book reads as an attempt to alter than to adjust for current times.
Before actually reading this guidebook, I took the time to read lace-a-la-mode's review of the guide. I choose to do this because instead of unconsciously reblogging the post, her review showed that she read the guide quite actively and critically, picking up on points that others had missed. What's more, her review is far from a quick blip summarizing the guide's contents. It's a well developed evaluation, and I appreciate the time and thought that went into it.
|Source: cropped picture from |
The Lolita Guide Book
The problem with creating a guide that's judgmental is that the topic becomes subjective, and, at times, inconsistent in regards to other peoples' experiences. According to The Lolita Guide Book, Kuro and Shiro Lolita "Used to be it's own style but seen as more of a theme nowadays for occasional outfits , and not something that people base their entire wardrobes around." Really? I guess they never got around seeing obsixwi's wardrobe post this year.
|Yes, The Lolita Guide Book, this is not a wardrobe, just a closet|
for a theme. Their real Lolita wardrobe is in their other closet. *sarcasm*
Source: obsixwi's 2015 wardrobe post
And this isn't about me trying to find at least one thing to contradict the guide book with to feel superior. This is about how a reference that's supposed to be used as a way to advise panders to a select set of beliefs and reads as having an ulterior motive of revising the fashion to meet their own standards or views.
I was glad to see the inclusions of some of the sub-styles, but some of their representations were diminished in regards to the others and treated as a mere motif or trait than a style able to stand on its own. And this way of thinking wasn't just with their thoughts on Kuro or Shiro, but on others as well. Apparently Guro Lolita is "Best suited for Halloween or photo shoots" and both Ero and Punk Lolita are "'dead'" because "no one wears it anymore." Why would they even put that in the guide? It's not even necessary. It's off-putting, and doesn't make these styles welcoming. For a section that's supposed to introduce and describe a style, those line reads as being condescending. All it does is repudiates older styles that aren't as popular.
That's like having the last line in the Sweet Lolita style section say, "There are those who see Sweet Lolita as ageplay because of the many child-like motifs reserved for its dresses." How does that help describe the style? It doesn't. It makes the reader weary of the style and further perpetuate unnecessary and negative judgments on select styles in our fashion.
|A Lolita can wear Guro ANY DAY and still be appropriate, not just on Halloween.|
Stop trying to restrict sub-styles as themes appropriate for certain days or circumstances.
Triple Fortune Bloody Skirt from their 2015 collection
Source: KERA Shop (It's being sold right now, in April, not October.)
But the most outcry from Lolitas I've heard concerned The Lolita Guide Book's view on piercings and body modifications. The most outwardly response involved a post created by sugar-honey-iced-tea on tumblr (though, it seems it has been since deleted). Attached to the image below, sugar-honey-iced-tea writes:
"The new Lolita guide: -Natural hair colours work best in lolita- Tattoos/piercings arn't Lolita *WOW shocking discovery, I found this picture of a Lolita with pink dyed hair and *GASP* a parfait tattoo on her arm in a Gothic and Lolita Bible from 2008. Scandalous."
|Photo attached to sugar-honey-iced-tea's post|
The moderator of The Lolita Guide Book has recently addressed this post on their platform as a way to clarify their stance on the subject, saying that the guide:
"never stated that tattoos/piercings were not "lolita." The guide states that tattoos and piercings are generally kept to a minimum to suite the largely cute/girly aesthetic (and not so much an alternative one, although it could work in a well-done punk coord), and tattoos that are jarring to a coord are best to be covered, since they usually end up clashing with the overall look."
You can read their full statement here at their blog page.
I find their explanation hard to understand and a bit round-about. According to their words, tattoos and piercings are okay, as long as they complement a "cute/girly" style. But how does a piercing have or maintain the look of a certain gender? What's a girly piercing and what's a masculine piercing? And if my piercing (or piercings, since it seems that having a lot of them aren't girly) appears masculine, should it be incorporated in the fashion? And what's their definition of cute piercings? Also, since we're on the subject, what's the minimum number of piercings I can have before they stray into that ungodly area of being "alternative". I just want to be thorough with maintaining my "cute/girly aesthetic." (Okay so that last one was a joke. We're allowed to laugh here, right?)
|So, are spectrum piercings okay, The Lolita Guide Book?|
Like, these are alternative piercings, but, like, they work... because it's girly... somehow.
Source: Lunie from her LVER post
(I don't know if Lunie's piercing is real, but my point still stands.)
And speaking of "alternative," what do they even mean by that? I hate to break it to them, but Lolita fashion is also an alternative fashion, it's definitely not mainstream. So now I have to worry about dressing too alternatively in an alternative fashion? Wow, I'm super bummed to hear this. But on a serious note, I also find their practice of boxing certain styles, or should I say sub-styles, concerning in this statement. So having many piercings (we don't know the number or the variations) interrupts the "cute/girly aesthetic" that the Lolita fashion demands, but "could" (notice that "could") work in a Punk Lolita coord (but only if it's "well-done")?
Confusing? Don't worry, here's a simple formula:
generally, many piecrings ≠ "cute/girly aesthetic" in Lolita BUT generally, many piecrings possibly "could" = Punk Lolita in a "well-done" coord
They also wrote some more about hair color and wigs, but I won't go far into their statements. To see their full comment, you can read their full post that I've linked above. Instead, I'll just leave some very recent and lovely pictures from Kimra Yu's Twitter post with her in a unnatural wig that isn't match-y-match-y with her corrd and another Lolita who has unnaturally dyed hair that doesn't match the colors in her corrd also.
Does the Lolita with purple and green hair match the colors in her corrd? No. Would she be considered ita to some? Yes. Is her hair cute and still works with her coord, nevertheless? Of course!
|No, but this wig is okay because pink is a common color in Sweet Lolita.|
So she can wear it even though there's no pastel pink in the dress, come on guys.
Kimra Yu in Anglic Pretty Cherry Marguerite
Source: Kimra Yu's Twitter
|Kimra Yu in Anglic Pretty's Cherry Marguerite|
Source: Kimra Yu's Twitter
And, just to reiterate, I'm not trying to disprove The Lolita Guide Book point for point. I'm trying to show how certain "rules" in the fashion are not concrete and how there are going to be exceptions that will occur. Exceptions that we can't even fully explain. Therefore, trying to assort and categorize the fashion in such a compulsive way seems pointless to me. Operating this way makes the style seem contained with a hefty amount of regulations.
However, I think it's great that the the moderators of The Lolita Guide book are willing to listen to criticisms and adjust their guide, and I I appreciate that. Though, what I don't enjoy is how they don't address some of their edits publicly and, in the case with sugar-honey-iced-tea, act as if their edits are in the style of what they had originally wrote. When the guide receives an ask proving information or critique, they post their reply and whether or not they will make additions. I have yet seen a post or update saying that they have adjusted the language or cutout opinions that marginalized certain Lolitas, though (heck, I didn't even see an apology). So when sugar-honey-iced-tea created a post criticizing the guide's original upload, a moderator responded to her as if their initial body of work had always been inclusive and embraced different kinds of Lolitas, when in actuality, some of their language was confrontational and excluded Lolitas who looked a certain way.
Direct quotes from The Lolita Guide Book, that were used in lace-a-la-mode's review,...
|Quotes used in lace-a-la-mode's review from The Lolita Guide Book |
on piercings and body modifications before their edits.
have now been changed to this...
|Current section of piercings and body modifications in|
The Lolita Guide Book as of April 12, 2015.
The last line wasn't even included when the guide was first uploaded.
It has recently been revised with certain additions.
The truth is that Lolita is not as conclusive as the writers of The Lolita Guide Book may think. While we can try to define and distinguish Lolita, we cannot describe the entirety of the fashion as looking a certain way. There are many facets to Lolita and different ways its participants express themselves within them. In the end, there still has to be space for the participants in the fashion to feel as if they are in control of their look and style without having so many nitpick-y and opinionated "rules" they subconsciously feel bound to. It's incredibility stifling to feel such a way.
|Kinza Kasady looking cute in her body modifications and piercings.|
Source: Closet of Frills (CoF)
You can see similar pictures in Kinza's blog post here
|A comment left on Kinza's CoF post (pictured above).|
And another reason why alternative representations are needed in Lolita.
Source: Closet of Frills (CoF)
I could go on and on (like really, who sends beginner Lolitas to ita threads? How is that going to help them?), but I believe lace-a-la-mode's words reflects the most concerning feature about The Lolita Guide Book when she wrote:
"I wonder who it is the authors have conjured up as the example of the perfect lolita - and whether they can exist in the restricting world of the authors' opinion of perfection."
I can't fully give an answer, but I can say that many Lolitas, including myself, wouldn't be able to. And so, where would that leave us?
°˖✧ 'Till next time