By my count, this is my eleventh International Lolita Day (easier than one would think, since it’s a bi-yearly holiday: the first Saturday in June and December, for the curious). It’s meant many things for me: the years when I met with a few friends and indulged in pink, frothy Starbucks, decked out at local malls; the years when I made long journeys, in the heat and winter rain, to celebrate in style at various swanky tea houses. While the day traditionally constitutes getting dressed to the nines and headed out in the wide world to strut your stuff, or to meet in army formation with as many other local lolitas as you can muster, it has another side. International Lolita Day can be a time for bold celebration, but also a time to reflect and be still.
With the advent of the lolita community (and by this I mean, anywhere you can connect with other lolitas online – the blogosphere, Tumblr, Facebook, weheartit.com, Lookbook.nu, the list goes on), we love to do, dress, and show all about our passion for lolita with meetups, photoshoots, and fashion shows. These things are wonderful, but there is also a place in the lolita experience for simply being. To sit with your frills, decked out in the latest dreamy creation of either your favorite brand or of your own hands, and experience how pleasant it is to fulfill your fantasy. For me, the lolita experience is about feeling what it is to become your own daydream: a princess, a doll, a secret fairy, or an aristocratic maiden. It’s a very zen approach to lolita fashion: don your best dress with creamy lace, sitting in flower fields or your boudoir, with perfectly coiffed hair, to paint in watercolor or write musings of poetry, like a pillow book, or to embroider or hold a dolls’ tea party. It strikes me as the way Novala Takemoto might celebrate International Lolita Day – with a cup of delicate tea and his lolita prose. ILD can be a celebration, but I also think, amidst the activity and group photos, you should take time to honor the spirit of lolita. Even something as meditative as re-reading your favorite GLB would be fine. As for me, I’ll be taking peach tea with my twin Byuls, teddy bears, and stuffed unicorn.
In honor of ILD, I’ve decided to reproduce this short essay by Arika Takarano, a singer from the Japanese band Ali Project. I love the message and feel it’s a very appropriate encouragement for lolita on International Lolita Day. Items in bold are my personal demarcations.
I wonder what made you become lolita? Is it because you wanted to wear cute clothes? Because you like lace and frills? Because you wanted to be like someone? Or was it because you wanted to become cute so you’d be popular with guys?
No, no, that’s impossible, isn’t it? After all, lolita isn’t something with which you worry about what guys think! I bet your answer is something like this, “Before I know it, I was a lolita maiden.”
That’s right! You are a chosen maiden, a born aristocratic maiden. I understand you well. You’re a daydreamer and a visionary who is here in body, but not in spirit. You’re shy, willful, don’t want to be like others. You like reading by yourself rather than partying with friends. You love pretty things and want to live surrounded only by things you like. Isn’t that right?
“I am a special maiden.” It’s okay for you to think that, you know. Even if there are strangers who look away and snicker at you because your skirt is too poofy, or because the ribbon adorning your hair is too big, you don’t have to let it bother you. Sure, it’s aggravating that there are still some confused people who see Gothic and Lolita as unemotional, cheap cosplay, but you should just remain confident and stand tall.
One cannot learn true kindness unless one becomes strong. Nothing will come of indulging in the comfort of lukewarm idleness. It’s trifling and foolish to look at the same things other see and try to discover something interesting from such. After all, there are many more wonderful things, yet-unknown things, beautiful things that will take your breath away in your world. I know that you can find these things.
Cotton candy envelops your heart. Scarlet roses bloom in your eyes, and the taste of honey forever spreads upon your tongue. Your hair is soft and your skin is smooth. You are a maiden who was born to be lolita. You exist in a cocoon. The light of the sun and the glistening of the moon gently fall upon you there. You want to stay there forever with your eyes closed. While you wish for that, the dreams that fall gently upon you there are woven like a sweet layer of powdered sugar…
But girls with a highly developed sense of beauty are intelligent. Have you realized that behind the fluffy cuteness lies a well-honed sword, the blade of which shines brightly? That’s right. After all, you already know, don’t you? That this world does not consist of only beautiful things? That somewhere lurks malice that intends to do you harm? That roses have thorns so that may remain sublime? And that sentiment, you must fight to protect what is dear to you?
This is what I think: Gothic and Lolita clothes are a maiden’s armor, which even a knight armor cannot compare. A maiden’s lace is her steel. Her ribbons are chains. Her dress hat is her helmet, and she surreptitiously changes the blood that flows from her wounds into true red rose petals. Thus, the maiden fights. After all, to live is to fight, and to become beautiful is to become stronger.
You are a noble being that no one may touch, you are cute and yet tragic. Yes, the ideal aristocratic maiden, in my imagination, is very much like you.
There are other maidens who say, “But I’m not cute, so…” You know, though, there is no such thing as a maiden who is not cute. It’s just that there are maidens who don’t have enough confidence. However, modesty is a virtue, and those maidens won’t become the kind of shameless women who are not mindful of their appearance. That’s why I think not having confidence is a step towards beauty, too. So, stop looking in the mirror and sighing! You must find at least a piece of yourself that you like best. For example, part of your face would be nice: like your peachy cheeks or even your eyelashes. Your tiny, pink seashell nails would also be fine. The fact that you’ve got a talent for art, or that your specialty is making sweets would be fine, too. It’s enough for you to acknowledge, little by little, that there is something you excel in. See? When you think of it that way, do’t you recall this and that talent?
Say, I can see wings on your back – elegant wings, with the luster of velvet. Please keep flying freely, without fear. Even if someone should hurt you, you will end up landing in the right place. I know this well, because once upon a time, I was like you, too.