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.
Food and I have had a volatile relationship since I was little. As a child, I was a standard picky eater, raised on the blandest of food with its saving grace being a proclivity for whole grains. In my high school and college years I probably subsisted on a nauseating mix of oily instant black coffee and embarrassing instant noodles, the kind that stain your utensils neon yellow. Once I started going to the city and meeting new people, my diet expanded quickly: my favorite foods became big bowls of real Tokyo-style ramen with naruto and steamy balls of takoyaki at karaoke. I had a very rough patch with food trying to maintain a dialysis diet for the past two years, which cuts out dairy, chocolate, whole grains, beans and legumes, and almost anything processed in an effort to curb sodium and phosphorous.
At first I started cooking in an effort to accommodate my extremely narrow diet: I would get obsessed with one dish that fit my parameters and make it over and over as a comfort mechanism. There was a point when I ate almost exclusively avocados and egg whites and rice milk. After my kidney transplant, my relationship with food took another hairpin turn and my diet is mercifully unrestricted. Not having any ‘food rules’ was scary at first: walking into the grocery store felt like going to the zoo with all the tiger cages left open. It took a while for me to relax around food I couldn’t fit into the very small category of organic-unprocessed-dairy-free.
Being able to eat anything I want has opened up my desire to be creative with food. I use it to connect with my boyfriend as we’re both adventurous eaters with similar tastes; and as a way to bring home my love of New York City and Koreatown food to my own backyard. The food I cook now is still mostly dairy-free, but fused with the Korean and Japanese flavors I loved onto my own classic Americana background. The tastes I understood first were the spice and sweetness of gochujang and soy sauce and sriracha, so I fall back on these frequently no matter what I make. Like me, my food fits no one definition, and each dish tells a story of where it came from.
So now, onto my favorite new recipe! My method is usually to start with someone else’s recipe, and then fly by the seat of my pants with flavor and substitutions until I end up with something new. This is my sweet-spicy, smoky-strange Korean Root Beer Chili, in all its secret ingredient glory. You can also make this dish vegan by subbing the chicken stock for vegetable and skipping the beef in favor of a second kind of beans, like kidney beans.
Check the cut for the recipe!
Usually I’m not big on the usual summer fruit prints that come out nearly every May and June. We’ve all seen the strawberries, cream and cherries before, punctuated with the occasional daisy or lemon slice. They all seem the same to me, and even the names blend together: Strawberry Whip, Milky Berry, and all the others. But this year I can’t get enough. Maybe it’s the country-ish way they highlight the warmth and whimsy of the season, or maybe I’m feeling more partial to cream now that I’m no longer in an all-out war with dairy.
Lolita Miranda Priestly: a truly fearsome face.
When I saw Infanta’s Strawberry Kitchen jumperskirt from their online carrier Devil Inspired, I decided to give fruits a go this season. I was pleasantly surprised – the original print has a very Baby the Stars Shine Bright feel, as does the wide heart-embellished lace along the neckline and hem. The print itself features the obvious strawberries, jars of jam and twining ribbons. I decided to take this dress out for a spin at a local ice cream shop.
I paired this dress with a lightweight pink chiffon blouse (because trust me, the heat dome of New England is no joke) along with a pink ribbon choker from Peiliee and a quilted Betsey Johnson purse. Oh, and cherry chip bordeaux makes for the best photoshoot prop!
When I last wrote my popular “How to Have a Super Kawaii Instagram“, in 2012, seems like several eons ago in social media age. Apps can spring up overnight and change the face of mobile blogging and connection in an instant (can anyone remember a time before Pokemon Go?). So with the advent of AliceHolic, another new app for mobile kawaii style, I thought it was high time to revive my favorites-list of editing apps for 2016, along with some of my go-to tips for getting that IG starpower following to witness all this cuteness.
BeautyCam Is Every Girl’s Real MVP
Whether you just enjoy the forgiving filters that manage to add great candy color while also smoothing out your skin, or get crazy with the leg-lengthening and eye-enlarger, I still can’t let this app go unmentioned. I’ve used this to fix dark circles, remove scars or bruises, or even just zap out a stubborn pimple. Is this DIY retouching at its finest? Yes, but I have no regrets in the option to remake and modify my image in a way that feels most comfortable. Plus, they have a feature to add live bokeh like hearts, stars, or snowflakes to your selfies. Who can turn that down? Check out the Beautycam info page here.
Every Filter You Need
I quickly grew bored with the stock filters on Instagram, and instead rely on SelfieCity. Packed with filters for every style, and with a few easy edits like background blur, vignette corners or square cropping. I probably use this on my every photo before it goes live. They also routinely add new collections of filters, which is always fun to see.
Augmented Reality Beauty is Trending
Brought on by the Snapchat live-selfie style filters to give you the well-known puppy dog faces and flower crowns, I’ve found two favorites from Korea: the Egg Action Selfie Cam and Snow Camera. Both of them show your face inside a jelly, a strawberry, as your friend, or with rainbow tears. They’re not exactly serious selfie game, but they are seriously fun time wasters for you and your friends.
MakeupPlus For Your Good Days and Bad Days
MakeupPlus applies a variety of makeup styles and products to your photographs. It’s gone through many incarnations, and I must confess a love-hate relationship with this app. Every time I get comfortable with the new interface or find a look that works for me, it seems like they update the app. As it’s become more popular overseas, they’ve increased skin tones and makeup colors, but significantly moved away from their aegyo-heavy Korean roots to a more edgy Western style, as evidenced even by their makeup tutorials and base model. I like this app for casually dressing up a no-makeup face, or for adding definition to an already-made-up face, like brightening blush or adding extra lashes.
Growing Your Instagram Presence
What’s the point of being super duper kawaii on Instagram if no one is there to see it? (If a kawaii pink sparkly tree falls in the forest, and no one hearts it… oh, forget it.) There’s a few top ways to get more involved with your microblogging social media, and you can do them in just a few minutes a day.
Post regularly – typically one or twice a day will keep fresh content and fresh interest in your account.
Choosing a theme or style can generate interest as well. Whether this is styled by category of content or just a general color scheme, considering how your images fit together as a group will give a unified look to your photos.
Like like like! Interacting with other accounts, whether they’re following you, you’re following them, or you find them with the recommendations page – gets you involved. Send out heart emojis, write and respond to comments – y’know, the social part of social media. Being involved is the best way to make Instagram rewarding and help you build online friends and online personality.
Use hashtags and geotags to up your visibility! I love checking out photos taken from the same restaurant or event I’m at, or different themes, both to get my photos noticed and to see how other people photographed the same subject. If you’re interested in getting involved with different languages or cultures on IG as well, consider tagging your photos in the language you’re studying or the culture you’d like to interact with. Japanese or Korean hashtags can get your stuff spotted by Japanese and Korean fashionistas for example!
So if you’re ready to really have the kawaii instgram of your social media dreams, start today! Even just one new photo today can be the start of a cute new curation that expresses what you find beautiful! Leave your username in the comments or on our Facebook page thread!
“Are you mixed?”
This is what the makeup artist asks me as we hang around the jpop exhibit. I blush and shake my head no. I’m wearing a long lavender wig, lashes sprinkled with stars, and a pastel pinafore. If anything it looks like my parents had relations one rowdy night with a cotton candy machine. But this lady insists I’m Korean.
It happens again while I’m in Flushing waiting for my boyfriend. I’m shopping in a boutique where the staff is freely mixing Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. I’m just here for the floral stationery. One shop girl wants to know where I get my dress – not too unusual, since I typically dress like a Disney princess wannabe. When I tell her my clothes are from Japan, she reminds me that mixed girls are cutest and offers me a discount.
I’ll solve the mystery right now. I’ve had this question a lot online, from fans and friends alike. I am 100% white. I am from European immigrant, pale-skinned, New England stock. I have grasped at the straws of my genetic heritage. In high school, I played the Irish harp. My grandmother made us French-fried onion and green bean casserole, not her mother’s pierogies. They never spoke their languages to their children. Whatever culture we had, my grandparents sold to buy us American whiteness instead, or whatever that meant in the 1950s when my mother was born. (After all, whiteness has changed greatly over the years, but I digress.)
I’m scared to talk about this. There, I said it. I want to support the people I see fighting for racial equality across lines right now. I know I am just an ally at best, and that I might come off as another white-girl-tears Becky at worst. I’m not saying this because I am a weeaboo, Koreaboo, egg, or afflicted with yellow fever, though I’ve been called all those things. It would be easier if I could sum up my heritage as simply mixed or hapa and move on, instead of having to justify myself with my life’s story. But I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I know I am white, and the privilege that comes with it.
2015 at the Mitsuwa summer festival, wearing my first yukata
On the flip side, I’m not white enough for my own family, sometimes. They groan every time they see the rice cooker on for dinner and they are pretty sick of me dragging them to sushi restaurants, where they order chicken teriyaki. My mom cringes when I go to town on a Korean fried fish with a pair of chopsticks. They are exasperated with my pet collection of languages and evenings watching Asian dramas. In my own house with visiting cousins, I’ve been called a race traitor.
When I met a new friend, after a few minutes’ chat he says, ‘So what kind of white are you?’ I stutter a little. I know that being asked ‘what are you?’ is a classically uncomfortable question for lots of POC or biracial people. I know it’s part of my privilege that this is the first time I’ve been asked that. But I’m still not sure how to answer. I eventually say lamely, ‘well, I’m from Connecticut,’ but that doesn’t explain much about who I am. Yes, I am born and bred on cow corn and northwestern Connecticut hills. I’m naturally some kind of blonde and I have the world’s whitest parents. What I can’t qualify with visions of Martha Stewart, Stars Hollow and Yale in the fall is that I’ve inherited a jumble of languages and cultures. My extended family is made up of Chinese, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Jewish and Cuban relatives. I had French picture books from my aunties as a kid, and I coaxed Québécois out of my Alzheimer-dreaming grandfather as a teenager. I spent ten years under the Japanese based culture of Lolita fashion and stumbling through the language and cultural expectations for modeling work. My little cousins speak Canto. I myself speak decent French, some sloppy Japanese and a growing child’s vocabulary of Korean.
this is what love looks like
My boyfriend has diagnosed me with a kind of multi-flavor Konglish – I usually start a sentence in English and then slip into something else halfway through, or drop in pieces of vocabulary when I run out of English nuance. I’m not trying to offend or re-claim something that’s not mine when I accidentally speak another language, though I know girls who squeal broken Japanese make everyone cringe. When I’m speaking, I often have to pause and translate my own thoughts for the audience I’m speaking to. Early mornings make me mumble in Korean. I sleep-talk and dream in multiple languages. Twice now when I’ve woken up out of anesthesia, I have forgotten how to speak English, to the consternation of the nurses around me.
I will never fit in an easy box. I remember my first time getting dressed for Korean church, looking at my hair in the mirror. It’s platinum blonde, or alternately, jewel pink. All the guides on being respectful to your Korean elders (and yes, I see the irony on studying this) said you should color your hair “natural” or “dark”. Even if I bought a box of black dye, I was not going to fit in. I was never going to be Korean for my in-laws, and I was never going to be a classic Uconn white girl for my aunts and uncles on my Connecticut side. I can never fit on either side, as tempted as I am to try.
For much of my life, I have been passing. I pass as straight, so I don’t feel I can speak to the righteous fear of the Orlando shooting, even though I know what it’s like to be afraid to hold hands with my same-gender partner in public. I pass as white, and I am white, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to shit-talk #BlackLivesMatter in front of me over Thanksgiving dinner. When it comes to issues of Asian-American rights, I am thinking of my boyfriend, my cousins, my friends, my future children. I worry I’ll accidentally dip my children in whitewash, and in the same breath I worry that I’ll overdo it and give them the extra burden of carrying their Asianess around, in a name they have to repeat three times or in a lunchbox that smells funny. What if I pass on broken language that doesn’t fit in anywhere? What if I don’t tell my children what it means to be Asian, and everyone else tells them instead, encapsulated in stereotypes of Bruce Lee and nail salons? Am I even qualified to do either?
In between a rock and a hard place, I often end up saying nothing, or worse, wishing I had said nothing in the first place. If I don’t speak up to issues of injustice, does it mean I’m another white person who doesn’t care? Or if I do, does it mean I’m another white person who should keep my mouth shut about things I don’t understand? I often just feel… voiceless.
I know that’s something we have in common – to whoever is reading this right now. It’s something that unites everyone who has ever been judged based on who they are or what they seem to be. It’s when you wonder if you are overreacting or convince yourself that they didn’t really mean it that way or if you are just too sensitive. It’s not that I don’t care about these issues today. It’s that I do care – a lot. I cried watching a documentary about homeless elderly in Chinatown. I yell things at my TV screen during the Republican National Convention. I am way too patient with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to my door prophesying the end times (again). I am sitting with my mixed-faith prayer group listening to the other ladies talking about sending white light and love into the universe when they see trouble on the news, and thinking, yes, BUT, we also have to march and call our senators and vote. Even if I am wrong, even if I am missing some big picture, I want to know, because I do care.
I am part of a new generation of Americans. We are going to be a blended community, a blended family. Language, food, culture, religion, and gender are no longer bound to the old definitions of skin and body. I truly believe that is a good thing, something that makes us stronger, that makes our heritage richer, a process that has been slowly coming together for years (like in my current read, The Color of Water). But it doesn’t make this any less confusing a transition, for people on both sides, whether you’re biracial, mixed, or just multi-cultural.
I said when I started this piece that I was scared to speak up, about feeling “mixed up” on racial and cultural identity. I still am. But I know nothing is going to change in this world if we never talk about these feelings. I think every experience is valid, and deserves to be heard out. My motto for this year is “fear means go”, and I have leaned on it hard for the past six months. I am charging into what scares me; I am looking at my fear with curiosity. Isn’t courage speaking even when your voice shakes?
What makes you feel like you don’t fit in a box, or are stuck between two worlds? What makes you feel erased or invisible? What makes you feel voiceless?
Watch out, Lacebook has competition! Lolita fashion specific social media has gone mobile with the addition of the new app, AliceHolic (check it on the App Store here). Connect with other lolitas from around the world inside this Japanese kawaii-only app.
The advantages over Instagram? No scrolling through pages upon pages of unrelated puppy or pink frappe pics; if you need instant fashion inspo this app has you covered like a direct dose of cuteness. Of all the social media where I curate my lolita fashion daydreams, from Pinterest to Tumblr to Facebook, I have to admit that this one is the easiest. Opening up your feed looks like this:
The app’s default language is Japanese, but a friend told me you can switch to English or Mandarin in the settings if you prefer (the gear icon, naturally). Each heart is an equivalent to an Instagram like or double-tap, and a star is a follow. You can view either a chronological feed of everyone’s latest updates or just the ones you choose to follow. The latest tech update now introduces the option of push notifications if you’re really into who’s hearting what. Unfortunately, it’s not available for Android platforms yet.
Do we really need another social media platform? Honestly, we probably don’t, but what’s the harm in enjoying a little lolita-specific free app and lacey graphics? And there’s the added bonus of meeting and oogling new lolitas that you haven’t seen yet from around the world, instead of the small pool of the already established lolita communities.
Now, if you really want to make a splash with your first post, consider checking out my guide on mobile photo editing for How to Have a Super Kawaii Instagram! Hmm… anyone up for a 2016 reboot of the cutest photo editing apps for your phone? I know I’ve got a slew of new ones to share!
My name is parfaitdollvictoria on AliceHolic, by the way! What’s yours? Make sure to heart and star me up!
Do you know what to do when you are having the worst day (week, month, year) ever? Do you swear by a morning routine, like coffee + Instagram + personal playlist? How do you psyche up, wind down or chill out? Do you ever wish there was, miraculously, a manual under your pillow with instructions on how to turn the machine that is your brain, body, and heart, on-again off-again? If so, you need to get on board with the latest in DIY mental health: self-care.
What Is Self-Care And Why Should I Do It?
Self-care means taking a mental or physical time out to collect and re-center yourself. When you’re having a stressful day at work and feel yourself spinning out, do you push yourself harder or wall off? If you were watching your friend have the same meltdown, wouldn’t your initial reaction be to wrap them in a blanket, get their favorite snacks and general soothing? The idea behind self-care is that you should do all these things for yourself, and that self-care is an important part of functioning. Putting yourself first once in a while, especially when life feels hard or stressful, will optimize your ability to function, make you healthier, and just dang feels good. Essentially, consider this your tool kit or instant-care goodie box to bandage yourself back up in case of trouble.
How To Use Self-Care Techniques
How do you know when you need self-care? Listening to your feelings and pinpointing them is important, but we’re not all good at knowing what we’re feeling all the time. The average person can tell when they feel “off”, but what do you need to pick yourself up?
Ask yourself these questions:
Am I feeling drained, fed up, anxious, burnt out, or unmotivated?
Am I having trouble concentrating or getting things done?
Did I just accomplish a big task?
Did I just experience a big change, either positive or negative?
Taking care of yourself is a necessary life skill. As an adult, there’s no parent to talk you out of tantrums or to soothe away hurt feelings and no-good, very bad days. Any kind of change, positive or negative, can require some self-care; and finishing a big project requires you to refill your “empty cup” so to speak. You might be able to rely on a partner or a friend to help out if you’re feeling stuck, but at the end of the day, it’s emotionally responsible to be able to care for yourself.
Self-Care for Sweet Lolitas and Other Pastel Cuties
Bake something adorable ✿ Write a gratitude list on pink stationery ✿ Make a cup of floral tea ✿ Let the light in by tying your curtains back with pink bows ✿ Give your stuffed animals personal attention (cute plushie pic) ✿ Hide under your softest Sanrio blankets and set a five-minute timer
Self-Care for Gothic Lolitas and Other Spookies
Mediate in a dark room (and here’s how to start) ✿ Listen to your spookiest music ✿ Try a gothic bath bomb (I like this one, but here’s a few others you might like for some Black Lagoon vibes) ✿ Start planning your Halloween costume(s) ✿ Stroll through a graveyard alone (bonus: take grave rubbings or photos) ✿ Light a few licorice candles (they’re on sale for Halloween! I love them any time of year, though.)
Self-Care for Classic Lolitas and Other Victorian Beauties
Visit a secondhand bookshop or library; hide in the stacks ✿ Collect flowers for pressing or cataloging (this book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh super inspired my love of floral language!) ✿ Learn ten words in a new language ✿ Watch a period film (maybe these?) ✿ Embroider anything ✿ Write a love letter to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, using your best penmanship
If you need some other fresh ideas or pick-me-ups, try my Pinterest self-care board! I’m pretty happy with my curated self-care collection, maybe you’ll find something you like there. I also really enjoyed the Tumblr Self-Care Zine!
I must admit I loved this idea of customized self-care from the ‘Self-Care for the Signs‘, so if you want to see how your star sign handles self-care, go check out this list!
This has been the summer of ice cream for me. Now that I’m fully recovered from my kidney transplant, my diet is now free to include as much dairy products as I can stomach. Drippy, melty, icy treats have been my poison of choice this season, and I decided to celebrate my birthday by ticking off my list of top New York ice creameries – starting with CoolMess on 62nd St. (Check out Time Out New York for a great guide to local ice cream shops if you want to get your cream on.)
CoolMess is a brightly colored escape from the heat with one key feature – make-your-own mix-in soft-serve done right at your table. We went with a rainbow-theme for our vanilla creation – gummy bears, strawberry slices and mini M&Ms – and a salted caramel vibe for the chocolate, featuring Heath Bar chunks, caramel sauce and whole chocolate-covered pretzels. The staff assists you with making your cool messipe, so it’s pretty foolproof. And if you’re really hungry, or just want to dip your fries in your frosty, you can order directly from their partner Burger Heaven downstairs.
This was my first time in a long time putting together a video for the website! Back in 2008, I used to have a very small Youtube channel called the Charm Channel, as partnered with the original incarnation of my blog, Lolita Charm. I’m working on updating my video game so I can start making on-location and in-studio videos for you all with lots of fun content. This is just a little taste to start! Let me know what kind of video content you’d like to see on Parfait Doll! The channel is also up and running if you’d like to subscribe.
Sprinkles, rainbows, and neon were key style points at CoolMess.
I chose to wear the ultimate ice-cream-theme dress for my party – Angelic Pretty’s iconic print Milky Planet. Even though it’s an older collection nowadays, the glitter, rainbows, and castles made out of ice cream cones are still one of my favorite looks. I recently heard the 2008 – 2012 period referred to as the Angelic Pretty ‘golden years’ and I have to say, I agree. Some of their best work was produced in the early days of print mania, and it’s not hard to see why they were the standard of lolita fashion particularly at the time.
Here’s to another great year of fashion and blogging! Thanks to all of my squad who came out to help me celebrate!
Today I want to hold up the social media triumph that is #squadgoals. Scrolling through my Instagram feed for fashion inspo, the weight of #squadgoals really hit me as I watched gang of cute girls after cute girls show off their stuff together. Who hasn’t see a killer picture of fashionable girls on theme – their perfection exponential with each member – and thought, ‘damn, I gotta get myself some cool friends like this!’ It’s all the fun of being your own imaginary girl band, street gang and babysitter’s club rolled into one.
The best part about #squadgoals is that it acknowledges that truly fly girls are two things: one, stronger together and two, bent on bringing their sisters up instead of down. Squads celebrate friendship and the amazing skills of your fellow girls rather than competition. There is no room for the ‘token female’ trope here, and no need to be the only girl in the room to protect your insecurities. The other girls don’t make you less fabulous; they reflect their fabulousness onto you. It is inclusive and celebratory.
Lolita twinning and the popular “Angelic Pretty clones” of the 2008 – 2012 years took this idea and ran with it. The social taboo of many sitcoms – the idea of another girl wearing the same dress, or a “who wore it better” face off that we see in fashion magazines still today – was flipped on its head. Why get upset that there’s now another cute girl wearing something you love? Screw competing, let’s be doubly cute and take adorable pictures together! Twinning gives you and your bestie, or a whole girl gang of them, a special bond. Twinning is even picking up in more mainstream pop culture, either coordinating to wear similar clothes with your girlfriends for more #squadgoals love or occasionally, twinning with your significant other.
The reason girls compete, according to feminist theory, is due to “tokenism” or sometimes called the Smurfette phenomenon. Media and male-oriented cultures and arenas have taught us there can be room for women – one, maybe. Check a few of these pop culture examples if you don’t believe me – or just see Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency video “The Smurfette Principle”. So while women make up 50% of the population, they’re not being represented that way. And when you think your spot as the only girl – ‘this town/club/video game isn’t big enough for the both us, cowgirl’ – is being threatened, suddenly it’s on you to prove why you’re a better candidate. It’s something that’s been taught to us until subconsciously ingrained. We witness it everywhere, from Hollywood films to comparison from our own friends, family and lovers. Pitting girls against each other can happen abstractly, such as a simple ‘you’re not like other girls‘ comment, or more blatantly, like guys rating women on a 1 – 10 scale.
Teaching yourself to view your fellow girls as inspiration and allies instead of enemies can take conscious effort. Whether you can feel your jealousy rearing up when you see a cute selfie on your Instagram feed or your insecure voices whispering to you – ‘you’ll never be that cute/successful/eyebrows on point’ – it can strike when you least expect it.
I love this mantra to discourage the innate urge to compete:
The solution to cool-girl-insecurity? Make friends with your local cool girl wildlife. Ask her how she does her eyebrows. Tell her you love those shoes. Also, she will probably tell you how she does her eyebrows and where she got those shoes. Cool girl tutorials, makeup guru videos and book-of-shadows shopping-tip swapping-realness? Uh, yes please. When you foster girl connection instead of girl competition, everyone wins. You get new friends, amazing squad super powers, and killer eyebrows.
#Squadgoals is the magic we need, if we let it. Let the squad love in, ladies. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
This is the year I turned twenty-seven. If you asked me when I started this blog in 2008 what it would be like to hit the late-20s stretch, I’m sure you’d hear a host of foreign ideas of what it means to be thoroughly out of the college years. It reminds me of LeAnn Rime’s “Something’s Gotta Give” song – “Jenny’s got a job, a cat named Jake, and thirty-one candles on a birthday cake – next year”. According to LeAnn, she thought by now she’d have a man, two car seats and a minivan, but it still ain’t here. I think for everyone in my generation, we’re re-evaluating what the late twenties and early thirties means to us. I know a lot of little girls thought thirty – so far away when you’re eight or nine – would look something like the Barbie Dreamhouse (I’m still hope-chest collecting for my future pink kitchen, but I digress). For me, my late twenties still looks shockingly pink, but with a few notable exceptions. I still live at home, like a lot of my contemporaries. After a few hard years trapped in my own princess-tower of chronic illness and kidney failure, I’m suddenly experiencing the door thrown open. At twenty-seven, I finally feel like I’m being told to fly. Cautiously, maybe, but fly all the same.
With that in mind, I feel like a few years of my life are missing. It’s hard to believe I’ve stacked up to twenty-seven when really, I still feel about fifteen inside. That’s probably why even at this age, my birthday still makes me think about Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon and I have shared a birthday since her inception by Naoko Takeuchi. She’s the same astrological symbol as me: a Cancer-crab born under the ruling planet of the Moon. She’s always been a heroine whose key point is her relate-able immaturity. When confronted with worry, she’d rather snack; when she comes across something sad or feels overwhelmed, she cries. Her fellow Sailor Scouts are often frustrated with her innocence and want her to buck up and buckle down. She’s a hero, but at the same time, she’s also an ordinary girl who somehow rises to extraordinary circumstances. It’s not that she is a hero in spite of her insecurities and weaknesses; she’s a hero because of them. Her emotions are what make her strong. Those weepy, watery, sensitive moon-feelings that often threaten to overtake her are also her strongest gift.
In a recent article, TIME magazine spoke about the millenial concept of ‘adulting’. They blame the millenials’ trouble with adulting on a lack of home-economic classes, which have led us to post pretty pathetic tweets about burning spaghetti or making your own doctor’s appointments. (I guess cooking classes and phone courtesy skills are no longer in vogue?) On the other hand, the public’s fascination with coloring books, superheroes and reclaiming the nostalgia of childhood is at an all-time high. We’re drinking Ecto-Coolers in the summer heat and prepping for a new generation of Pokemon with consoles jerry-rigged from our smartphones.
As I get older, I’m piecing together the precious things from my childhood that are worth keeping side by side with my skills in “adulting”. There is value in a certain kind of innocence. Lolita fashion in particular has always been about valuing that innocence, an interpretation of the word that doesn’t mean ‘stupid’ or ‘inexperienced’ or ‘naive’ but connotates having seen it all and still chosing to remain unbroken. It’s about appreciating the things that make innocence resilient, and the wisdom of keeping traits that adulthood might be quick to throw away. Maybe we all have a little Peter Pan complex, even as we get inevitably older.
I have no idea what aging will entail until I get to the other side of it. My grandmother always said, “Don’t get old, Vicky”, at the staggering age of ninety-nine. I suppose she would know exactly what aging entails. But I also know that as long as I keep cherishing the parts of myself forged in youth that made me strong – the resilience, the faith, and the spirit – that I can be okay with my added years. Like Sailor Moon, hero of my seven-year-old self, I can still rise to the occasion with my innocence as my greatest strength.