After Parfaitdoll.com’s spotlight on Bustle.com for plus-size lolita fashion (most notably for this article interviewing two plus-size lolita cuties! Take a read if you missed it!) I got to thinking about body acceptance in lolita fashion, and other kawaii styles. Body acceptance is something we need to talk about more as fashionistas – of every stripe and style.
Fashion is a double-edged sword of self-expression. On the one hand, there is a magic to becoming your own art canvas and realizing your daydreams on your own skin and body. You can become anyone you can imagine – a princess, a pirate, a CEO, a dystopian punk fairy, and everywhere in between. On the other hand, using your own body for art can leave you feeling frustrated when the image you created can’t match your reality. No matter how creative we are, some things will not change no matter how many times we go shopping or alter thrift store finds.
And lolita fashion, which is even more expressive and dramatic than its mainstream counterparts, makes this doubly true. We are formed on the basis of a specific shared dream, the haunting fairy-tale apparition of femininity. This idea is based on a mishmash of Victorian beauty ideals, Asian beauty ideals, and the evolving new dreams and trends of modern fashion, like kawaii and uljjang styles. And with all that pressure, we really need to take a look at not just who we want to be, but who we really are.
We are not talking about just fat acceptance or thin privilege or the myriad of other words we’ve developed and bandied around for the past several years’ of body talk revolution. We are talking about being comfortable in your skin, now, whether it is changing or stable, no matter its color, shape, weight, capabilities or anomalies. This includes not just being comfortable with what it looks like, but also being comfortable with what it can and cannot do, and what your responsibility is to care for it. Each body is unique, both in its appearance and its hurdles and needs. That’s been a hard lesson for me: that my body will always need more care and consideration than others’. Consider it the introvert of bodies – it will need extra recharging and more sensitive care. It is never going to be okay with all-nighters, crippling hangovers, or the occasional wicked sunburn of careless youth.
For me, body positivity and acceptance has been something I struggled with my whole life. Having a chronic illness and at times restricted medical diet has wrestled a lot out of my control. On dialysis, I had to cope with foreign objects and tubes and other medical body mods. The medications I took to keep me alive bloated my body and filled my abdomen with jelly-like fluid. Steroids could make me physically thin but make me feel puffy and flabby. I remember trying on clothes with the sole attempt of hiding my medical equipment, worried I would make other people feel grossed out or uncomfortable if they glimpsed my bandages or stitches. Here’s the bottom line: no one should feel ashamed of or uncomfortable in their own skin.