Kaya, a very, very young lolita, whose mother modifies Angelic Pretty clothing and items to fit her. (It’s rumored that her mother is an Angelic Pretty designer.)
I see this topic coming up again and again – not only on your average online forum, but also in the many emails I receive. If I had a nickle for every girl who wanted to know about how her age fits into lolita, I’d have a very pretty brand wardrobe indeed (unfortunately I’m not getting paid on this price point… sigh!) The whole hub-bub, especially from new readers on the Doll, is this way-back-when article right here.
This was one of the first articles I ever wrote on my lolita blog, then called Lolita Charm, and it’s always attracting comments both positive and negative. For those of you who don’t want to reread it, here’s the basic synopsis: lolita fashion standards and most importantly the lolitas’ drama-laden internet culture is not something I’d want to impose on my child, or children as young as, say, 13. To put it in context, this was written when they was a lot more emphasis on ‘doing it right’ and the hammer came down pretty severely on those who put a single toe out of line. It was a commentary on our general culture and whether or not this was a good influence on younger girls, and not a VIP list of who’s in and who’s out.
Since then I’ve had girls who worry they’re ‘too young’ at eleven, or others that they’ll be ‘too old’ at seventeen. And since then, I have talked to very sweet lolitas ages younger than I, and appreciated the work of teenaged bloggers like Tavi, who are quickly joining the ranks of professional style bloggers everywhere (check out her Rookie magazine, I’m currently in love with it). On the other hand, I’ve now met many girls in my local community pushing the other end of the spectrum – don’t ask a lady her age, so we won’t address any specific numerals – but suffice to say well into the age of adulthood or even AARP status! And guess what? They’re all pretty fabulous, dedicated lolitas.
For the record, once and for all, to be blunt, get your notebooks out: You can be any age and wear lolita.
Anyone can appreciate the lolita aesthetic and want to incorporate that into their life or fashion style. That’s all you need to know. Lolita fashion is lolita fashion. Lolita is clothing. The most important thing to learn, at some point in your lolita experience, is that lolita is not the Internet. Lolita is not even other people, lolita or not, online or in real life. If the Internet disappeared tomorrow, would lolita still exist? Of course. I stand by my belief that lolita internet culture is not perfect, but it’s not lolita. Lolita is an idea, a concept, expressed in fashion, that you tailor to yourself somewhere between your imagination and your heart. Fashion and style has no age restriction.
Speaking of age now in this article is funny for me, because I wrote the previous article when I was perhaps 19 and now at 22 (and a half!) I can already see a difference in my thoughts. In 2008, the ‘pseudo-science’ of lolita was popular, trying to analyze ourselves for why we liked what we did, in every aspect from our desires for childhood and childlike ideals right down to whether or not we romanticize other lolitas in a notion of bisexuality. Today I find the attitude to be more that we like how it looks, it’s cute, what else is there to know? I think the emergence of this attitude in the West is due to the many cute styles filtering out of Japan that aren’t quite so loaded a gun as the concept of ‘lolita’. There is little analysis going on, in, say, the world of fairy-kei or mori-girl. It’s cute. What else is there?
As I read recently online and to my chagrin just got the meaning of, age is all between the ears (did I used to think that meant brittle hair? I don’t know.) It’s true. Age is just between your ears, in your head. If you feel young in your heart, then that’s how you’ll be. If you think, I’m already 40, it’s time to throw in the towel and get used to being middle-aged, then you’ll turn into your idea of a typical middle-aged lady, minivan and all. Who you are is all about your perception of yourself, who you most want to be.
A great example is my belly dance teacher. She is over 60 and is absolutely full of energy and sass. I saw her out at the grocery store once, dressed to kill in a caramel-colored suede jacket with flower cut outs and high heels, dripping in shimmer powder and spangly belly dance jewelry. She is not afraid to stand out, and I am sure she doesn’t let her age get her down. If you hunt around on the Internet, there are plenty of fabulous older ladies to give you inspiration. I even saw a 70ish lady in New York City once, looking like a fashion plate, with a shock of Tarina Tarantino colored pink hair. That’s who I want to be when I grow up. (Can you imagine, no more bleach! Pastel hair as far as the eye can see…)
So, no matter when you discover lolita, or at what age you want to express yourself, I encourage you to take the plunge and follow your bliss. If it makes you happy, if it makes you leap for joy in your heart, if a pile of pink lace sends shivers down your spine -
Go for it.
Here’s a few articles specifically addressed on helping out younger lolitas (lolitas still in junior high or high school):
Blossoming: 8 Checkpoints for Younger Lolitas: Advice for younger girls with less pocket money interested in lolita style.
Convincing Your Parents to Let Your Wear Lolita by F Yeah Lolita: How to help your parents understand lolita fashion.