10 Misconceptions About Lolita


Lolita is often a very misunderstood fashion, a lot of different people think a lot of different things about it, not all of which are anywhere close to true! I am sure anyone who has worn the fashion a fair amount in public, or even someone who simply loves to do the occasional Google search for "Lolita" has heard any number of these applied to themselves and the fashion they enjoy so much. The following misconceptions are ones that I have often heard, either told directly to me, or talked about in forums where people didn't think Lolitas were listening! Of course, not everyone outside of the Lolita fashion feels this way, but these are just some of the more negative or generalizing misconceptions that some people seem to have about Lolita fashion, as well as a little bit of musing, and a little bit of ranting, about why people feel this way about Lolita.


1) It's named "Lolita", which is also the title of a fictional book about a sexually promiscuous young girl, so that must mean that people who wear Lolita are doing it because they want to attract pedophiles! 
Probably the #1 misconception about the Lolita fashion is that we must all be pedo-bait simply because of our name. Hearing things like this always sort of makes me shake my head in disbelief, even though I had been hearing a very similar complaint before I even discovered Lolita, the good old "Goth?! You're so stupid, don't you know that Goth means a style of architecture/was a tribe of invaders? How can you wear architecture/invaders!?" Honestly, the disbelief comes from the fact that I find it hard to believe that people who say things like this have ever even read the book Lolita, or know anything about classical architecture or Roman history. Am I going to be lectured on the original meaning of "decimate" as well? 

Here's the thing, I know what the book Lolita is about, I have actually read it. I also know that the term was coined years ago in a non-English speaking country that often uses English words in ways that we don't. I also know that sometimes words have multiple meanings and that sometimes, over the years, words change to mean different things. 

Years ago, for whatever reason, the world "Lolita" was coined to describe our fashion. Why? I honestly don't know. Speculation is that "Lolita" got loosely translated to mean a young girl and thus got applied to that group of girls dressing in what looked like young girl's fashion, "Lolita" being a foreign girls name and the fashion often taking inspiration from more Western and less traditional Japanese youth's fashion, the name just clicked. For the record, Lolita looked significantly different in the mid 90's (which is the earliest I have noticed the term "Lolita" used to describe the fashion) ago than it did now, so the current idea of what a Lolita should look like, actually looks very little like whatever it was that made people want to call it Lolita in the first place.


2) Lolitas love anime, they must if they are always dressing up as anime characters!
Believe it or not, Lolitas actually have many different interests. Some love anime, some don't particularly care for it, very few of them are wearing Lolita simply for their love of anime. 

Lolita is not an anime invention, quite the opposite actually, Lolitas are in anime because it was a real-world fashion first. To say that people wear Lolita because it is occasionally featured in anime is the same as saying that people dye their hair unnatural colors just because anime characters frequently have naturally colored hair.


3) Aren't all Lolitas completely obsessed with the fashion to the point that they've built a lifestyle around it? Don't they all wear it constantly while sipping tea on their pink stuffed animal covered bed while listening to classical music?
No, not even close. Again, Lolitas actually have a lot of different interests, just like regular people, no two Lolitas are exactly the same. While some Lolitas choose to wear the fashion as much as they possibly can and live the Lolita Lifestyle, to most Lolitas the fashion is really just that, just a fashion. A fabulous and frilly fashion that they spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on, but a fashion none the less.



4) I thought Lolitas are supposed to be polite and nice all the time!
This is often the cry of someone who, upon joining an online Lolita community for the first time, somehow manages to get into an argument with someone and is completely shocked to find that *gasp* Lolitas are arguing back and generally not being cupcakes, kittens, and rainbows. Yes, believe it or not, most Lolitas are not in perpetual polite mode, at least not any more than any other regular human being is. 

This fact is often used to shame Lolitas "For a bunch of girls dressed so pretty, you sure acted ugly, tsk tsk." Frankly, this assumption is complete BS. Not only are we Lolitas, but we are also just, more or less, regular people. We're not playing some sort of strict roll-playing game when we slip on a petticoat. You wouldn't shame a Goth for smiling, a Hippy for wearing shoes, or a Punk for engaging in an activity that doesn't involve throwing bricks through windows, so why shame a Lolita the instant they steps outside of the Lolita cliche?


5) Lolita came from Japan, therefore it's only okay when Asians wear the fashion.
I really hate to hear this. I especially hate to hear this from what are, otherwise, perfectly pleasant to be around people. It always sounds so, well, racist. "Oh, well it's okay when those wacky real-life-anime Japanese people wear Lolita, it is just what they do over there, but when normal people wear it, it's just weird!" There is absolutely no reason why non-Japanese cannot wear Lolita. Lolita is, by no means, a traditional Japanese style of dressing, even if it is heavily embedded in their pop-culture, so you can't even make the argument that it is disrespectful towards their culture to wear it (side note: here's an interesting blog article about "borrowing" cultural dress as a fashion statement!). People all around the world, of all different races, wear Lolita fabulously.



6) Most Lolitas don't have the confidence, aren't fashionable enough, or don't have the right kind of looks to wear "normal" clothes, so they wear Lolita to feel pretty, because they can't any other way.
A misconception that many alternative sub-cultures face, not just Lolita. When someone dresses strangely, some people feel that it is because it is the only option for them, for whatever reason. Even if this was true, that Lolita was only worn by people just trying to find a way to feel pretty or special, what would be so wrong with that?

Many of us want to feel special in some way or another, why should someone get to say that there should be a line (at least, within the realm of fashion) that you cannot cross to feel that way? If wearing Sugary Carnival and a hat shaped like a merry-go-round is the only way you can think of that will make you happy, no one really has the right to say "No, that's just too far! Wallow in your misery until you find something socially acceptable that will make you happy."

While Lolita might not be popping up in mainstream fashion magazines, urging everyone to buy the newest Angelic Pretty dress, or how to get that Juliette et Justine look for Bodyline prices, it can still be just as challenging to create unique coordinates in as it is in any currently trendy or even high-end fashion, and it usually takes twice as much guts to rock even the simplest Lolita look with confidence as it does more mainstream fashions. So, to say that a Lolita knows nothing about fashion just because they're not wearing a fashion you're familiar with is just silly, and I'd like to see the fashionista who who sneers at the Lolita try to put together a creative coordinate using a Lolita's wardrobe and not come out looking like a hot mess.

7) Lolitas are people who are trying to relive their early childhood. Either because they were picked on and abused as a child, or they have a sexual fetish for it.
Things like poofy dresses, the color pink, and pigtails are often synonymous with little girls clothes (regardless of the fact that, more and more, it seems like little girls are just dressing up like little grown-ups nowadays!) some people make the assumption that we must, therefore, want to be little girls again. The truth is, most Lolitas are perfectly content with their current age, and the ones that do dress childishly, are just one of many facets of the Lolita fashion.

I really don't know why people often assume that the childishness in the fashion is either the result of a dark and buried past, or a secret fetish, but this is another thing that seems to often be the case with alternative sub-cultures and fashion, that when someone sees someone wearing something strange it's for a strange reason, not simply because the person wearing it happens to like the way it looks.


8) Lolitas love attention and just want people to stare at how strange they look, why else would they wear something like that?
This is another one of those things that makes shake my head in disbelief, the idea that only people who are dressed "strange" want people to look at them. Nearly every fashion trend in casual mainstream fashion seems like it was meant to get people's attention. Walk into any clothing store and you'll find tons of tee shirts either with witty sayings meant to provoke a response from people, blunt proclamations of what you think about yourself, what kind of significant other you're currently on the prowl for, or to loudly proclaim your favorite bands/movies/hobbies; open up any fashion magazine and you'll find it filled with articles about how to make yourself stand out in a crowd in the trendiest way possible. If standing out is such an apparent crime, why aren't more fashion magazines talking about the most inconspicuous shapeless sack dresses to wear this summer and why aren't there more clothing stores devoted to completely utilitarian extra large plain grey sweatpants?

Everyone seems to be obsessed with drawing attention to themselves, but if that attention comes from an out-of-the-ordinary fashion, then it's all the sudden bad attention. Except that, most of the time, those of us who put ourselves out there and dress "weird" are really doing it only for ourselves, not so that others will look at us, but because we truly love the way it looks and feel our best when we're wearing something we completely love. Most of us don't actually love it when strangers yell obscene and stupid things at us, in fact, some people hate that kind of attention so much they are afraid to wear what they love.


9) Only spoiled rich girls can be Lolitas! They must just sit around all day buying clothes online with credit cards mommy and daddy pay for, how else can they have expensive things that require more than a minute to put on? 
Believe it or not, some people actually have jobs. Jobs they use to help fund things they enjoy, like wearing clothes. Life is not spent either working 24/7 or completely devoted to playing dress up. While Lolita does take a bit of dedication, most Lolitas are completely capable of managing their money and their time so that they can fit the clothes into their budget, and the fashion into their lives. Besides, Lolita doesn't really take that long to put on!


10) Lolita fashion is way too strict! There are rules for everything! How can you express yourself at all if you have to remember about a thousand stupid rules about how you're supposed to look?!
I feel like this might be the opinion of someone who thought they might be into Lolita, tried it, and found it too difficult, and now they have quite the bitter outlook on the fashion. While, yes, there are "rules" to Lolita, there are also "rules" to every other possible fashion style out there. After all, you wouldn't say you're a "jeans and tee shirt kind of gal" if you rarely bothered to wear jeans and teeshirts, so really, there are rules to something as simple as that as well. While the guidelines for Lolita are sometimes a little more complicated than other fashions, they are fairly generous and can easily be bent and even broken if you have even a moderate grasp on the fashion.

In regards to expressing yourself while being limited to a certain set of rules, well, the Lolita fashion is not the only way Lolitas express themselves, in fact, most everyone finds other ways besides just their clothes to express themselves. Just because it's hard to work a hoodie announcing your favorite band to the world (see misconception #8) doesn't mean that Lolita is necessarily trying to stifle you underneath a layer of lace, petticoats, and strict rules about skirt length.

27 comments:

  1. This was a really interesting post! Ive come across most of these sadly, particularly the first post (I've read Lolita too so it makes me angry!) it was nice to see these written down and know that they're common as opposed to directed!

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  2. I love #9! I'm a new lolita and I'm always so worried people will say this about me since I already have several brand dresses! I'm an adult, I have a well-paying job (well mostly, it IS commission-based) and I have the ability to manage money. I wrote about how I saved money for my brand in my crappy little blog, lol. No mommy and daddy helping here. XD

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  3. fashion guidlines are for pussies

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  4. What really stand out to me was #6 because people don't get that some clothes aren't for them, like the same way with hair styles. For example, I try mainstream fashion, but whatever i put on i look like a slut espicially with does tight ass skinny jeans. But that wasn't me, i like being modest ( thats one of the reasons i like lolita). Once i read this qoute in a book:  “Beauty is finding the right fit, the natural fit. To be perfect, you have to feel perfect about yourself ― avoid trying to be someone you're not” and that is so true and that inspire me to be a lolita

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  5. tell her the difference between the bad lolita and the good one and the reason why you want to wear it.

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  6. I have when people say those things. I am at a young age and starting be a lolita. I wanted to do it because it is adoreable and fun. So, I don't care if people stare or take pictures. I am fine with it

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  7. I agree with #9. I work hard to pay my bills and dress the way I do. It's not easy. What people don't think about is that a pair of brand socks cost $23, not including shipping or customs. We can't afford to sit around and do nothing. Most all of us do something for the money we need!

     Thanks for this post. A lot of what you said here is what I tell the girls that come to my panels. We are just people. Lolita is not a play or an act. It's a fashion. A term for a style of dress. Wearing BTSSB is like wearing Prada or Gucci. It's just a label. Just a name. Fashion is Fashion. ...In a way.

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  8. I think maybe you're underestimating just how inhumanly nice people expect us to be sometimes XD The example I have used is something I've seen many times, where someone expects they can show up, say some rude things, and then expect that Lolita's will maybe at the most politely reprimand them for using strong words, not tell them to take their attitude and gtfo. It's really a 2 sided coin of politeness I'm talking about, I honestly do not believe that anyone needs to just sit around and take a bunch of crap from someone all in the name of politeness and niceness, after all, we are indeed just people. I've actually had several comments left on this blog where people tell me I'm a bad Lolita because my blog name is in reference to a swear word, that is the level of politeness that some people expect all Lolitas should maintain.

    I am certainly not saying "WE NEED TO BE BAD TO BREAK THE STEREOTYPE  OF BEING NICE!" just that we are all regular people who are allowed to have regular emotions an regular reactions to things and sometimes a regular emotion is to simply not act like an unfeeling robot programmed to be nice. 

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  9. Regarding #4: Actually, lolitas should be nice all the time, not because they are lolitas, but because they are PEOPLE!  Just because being nice isn't directly related to the fashion one wears doesn't mean one has an excuse to do evil things.  Being bad is bad, which should go without saying but so many people seem to forget this nowadays!

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    1. While it may be hard for people remember that lolitas are people that just happen to be wearing that stuff, and whilst it seems that there are some guidelines to the culture, they have virtually no excuse to generalize the way they do.

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  10. I just see Lolita as a style that some people like to wear. It's no different from a woman prefers to wear Gucci or a woman who likes vintage. I love Regency dresses/Victorian bustle dresses and I try to sew some elements into my clothes. And I could care less about what people have to say or think about my style. 

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  11. CottonCandyDreamJune 21, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Omg I just HATE it when people have misconceptions about Lolita, but I hate it even more when they pretend to know more about than I do. IE saying stuff like
    " Lolita is only for people with a fetish for age play!" or something. Especially when you tell them what it's REALLY about, and they try repeatedly to tell you that it is actually what they say it is. Usually I just say something along the lines of "yeah, because I'm SO SURE that you, an COMPLETE STRANGER, know more about my intentions than I do.". If I'm feeling particularly touchy that day, I might add something like "do you mind telling me what I plan on cooking for my party in a few weeks because I'm sure your almighty mind already has that figured out!" sometimes mankind makes me wanna facepalm sooooooo hard!

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  12. I really enjoyed reading this! So many good points.

    I especially loved misconception #8.
    As it's so true! Isn't the reason the average person buys trendy clothes, or clothing with unique messages/style to it for the reason of standing out? To be appreciated by other people? To be accepted? (As you have said!) It's just ridiculous how hypocritical the general public is.
    Besides! These "people" have no reason to complain about us wanting attention. If they didn't want us to get attention, perhaps they should've have given us the attention in the first place! >:l Shheeesh.

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  13. #5 is my biggest peeve. Only asians can wear lolita, in the same way that only white people can use the public drinking fountain. *insert eye roll here*

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  14. I'm a lolita who enjoys heavy metal festivals. How's that for breaking the stereotype :P

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  15. I have heard many of these been said by others to me as well... My mother always keep saying that it's childish and that it is a japanese fetish for pedophiles.... Why can't she just see the classical beauty of it! :O

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  16. I think you are maybe seriously misunderstanding #4. As I said to someone else, #4 isn't about being mean for the sake of being mean just because it's "unloli" to be mean, but the fact that people assume that just because someone is a Lolita they are Lifestyle Lolita to the extreme and that means they must all shy away from all harsh words. The point of #4 was that Lolitas are just regular people, and in general, aren't required to be any more polite than anyone else just because they're wearing fancy Victorian dresses.

    Ironically, along the same lines, I am actually going to screen your comment because saying that someone is going to "get their cute faces smashed in" is seriously NOT a cool comment to leave somewhere. Besides the occasional ad spam, the only other time I've ever screened a comment on my blog is when someone came in and was just arguing with comments posted like a year ago, and this comment of yours. I am completely not OK with comments like this, even if they are just exaggerations and not aimed at anyone in particular.

    I'm aware how ironic this is, since it's in regards to a comment about being polite, and I'm not screening your comment out of spite because you disagreed with me (there are tons of disagreeing comments all over this blog, I absolutely do not care if someone disagrees with something I have to say), but because it is WAY too hostile and violent.

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  17. beguilingBrillianceJune 21, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    I need to send this to my mother...she seems to think I'm acting like pedobait.

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  18. Lolitas can be 'rude' (imperfect, swear at times...) like any normal person...just as long as they're not being bullies. Thats my only concern, no one should be a bully, anyways (that should be illigul. completely :/).

    So long as they're trying they're best and can be good friends...and aren't TOO 'mean' to other people they might dislike or something....thats what matters......

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  19. Annabelle:Interesting post,I'm no fan of Lolita or anime or manga though.What I like are bohemian tops,long and flowy dresses made from silk/chiffon,bootleg pants,fringes,Native American tribal prints and jewellery,and headbands-those across your forehead.What would be my style?

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  20. I can't believe people get angry about there being rules to lolita. There are rules to many and most styles of fashion. Just ask true goths, punks, rockabillies, steampunk people and others. I remember watching the latest season of ANTM and they had a "steampunk photoshoot" all they did was wear barely Victorian-eque clothing in the wrong colors and stand in front of a train. It was majorly disappointing and I felt bad for how many more mistaken people it would create.

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  21. Actually, I think that being lolita is like being emo. As a person who is really devoted to emo, I was thinking that emos cut themselves, are evil, child haters, worship Satan etc, all of that was totally WRONG (many emos were actually totally opposite to what I said about). However, some emos were some form of that stuff (but not exactly that).
    Same is also, but not just for lolita, also for every fashion styles around the whole planet. Many lolita followers I talked to, were total anime haters. Even non-lolita celebs like that annoying Anastasia Shpagina also hate anime. They hate words like "kawaii" or "nyan". They don't listen to J-pop or oshare kei - mainly to exactly opposite (Slipknot, Lacrimosa, Rammstein)!!! #4 is totally true (especially for shiro, sweet etc), but many lolitas I was talking to were very impolite and evil. #5 is a total nonsense. Not just Japanese can wear lolita as well as draw anime, or even play koto or shamisen!!! #6 is also nonsense. I saw a BLACK (!!!) lolita actually. #7 is some kind of saying like people who collect scale model cars or follow RC hobby were not playing toys enough as children, thus true only a very little bit. Also, 99,9% of lolitas are total child haters!!! #8 is nonsense too: it's just the fashion, nothing that special!!! #9... Many nice lolita dresses I saw in online specialized Internet shops, were at moderately expensive price and were slightly equal to the price of a good mountain bicycle or a used guitar. And last - you should actually distinguish lolita fashion and lolita personality. Same is also for emo etc.

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  22. Mana from Moi Dix Mois has been claiming in interviews to have invented the Gothic varients of Lolita fashion since his early days in Malice Mizer.

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  23. #4 is spot-on. My girlfriend (who is also a lolita, yay!) and I were visiting her brother in law at his job (a bar). It was early in the day, so the bar was empty, save for a table of three middle-aged men who started shouting, taking pictures, and generally harassing us. I told them that they were acting 'fucking stupid, for grown-ass men,' and immediately it was: "That's not very lady-like!"

    I don't get why people get offended when the frilly girls they've been harassing decide to bite back, and then have the gall to lecture us about manners.

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  24. okay but it's hard to even begin to get into the fashion with so many rules (#10) and so many snobbish lolitas (#4) who will immediately start to criticize you if you break any rules the first time you put together an outfit. how about some constructive criticism, instead of lording your expertise and 'brand' dresses over others?

    being sneered at and called a faker/poser/cosplayer is demoralizing for the beginning lolita, especially when cobbling together a first try at an outfit was probably really expensive (compared to dressing more 'normally').

    despite the whole 'don't judge a person based on how they're dressed,' the fact is that being dressed so cute and then acting so elitist does make a terrible attitude all the more apparent, by contrast.

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    1. As the title of this post suggests, these are all misconceptions, I go on to explain how these are incorrect assumptions in the post. The statement you are making is just assuming these misconceptions are correct. The entire point of this post is to say that Lolitas are more or less regular people, some are polite, and some are rude, but that making general statements about the fashion and those who partake in it is silly.

      Getting into anything new is going to be difficult, especially if you assume that it's too hard to begin with and think that people are going to pounce on you the moment you try. You are only demoralizing yourself by assuming that the deck is stacked against you.

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  25. I think you're over estimating the cultural impact of Lolita, because I've never had ANY conceptions about the look. When I see it, I think, "Right on. Whatever."

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