Subterranean Youth Culture: LOLITA



Want to look tea-party-cute whilst rebelling against the patriarchy?

Then go Lolita!

A style that found its beginnings in the 1990s, Lolita is popular amongst grown woman who seek to escape the confines of societal expectation to dress to please the male gaze. The style can be interpreted as a method of escapism and a return to the androgynous sexuality of childhood. For many, Lolita grants women ownership of their own sexualities, rather than the female body as pleasurable appendage for male entertainment. It is also a rebellion against Western standards of beauty, in which bared flesh and curvaceous contours connote desirability.

With Lolita, a whole range of associations come to mind: Victorian porcelain dolls, Alice in Wonderland skipping to her next tea party, and girls (boys, transpeople, et al) dressed in frilly petticoats, tiny bonnets, oversize ribbons, and adorned with doll-like make up.

Lolita encompasses a whole range of styles: from Gothic/Black (kuro-loli) to Sweet (ama-loli), Punk (panku-loli), and even a frighteningly ghoulish genre, called Grotesque Lolita (guro-loli), which features women painted or bandaged to look wounded or diseased, symbolising the wounds inflicted upon them by restrictive societal expectations.

Like so many of these alternative modes of being, enabled by innovative ways of dressing, Lolita woman do not exist quietly and will not submit to the norm: of serving home and husband. Instead, they cater to their own individuality, creating a world in which they surrounded and supported by kindred spirits.


While some may argue that the style stokes male fantasy, in fact, Lolita’s reversion to a childish style is not meant to be sexually attractive, but rather indulge the wearer’s innermost desires. Why should women who dress up to the extreme always be an object of sexual attention?

The Japanese really value conformity, and by doing the very opposite, by standing out, these women speak strongly for themselves.




Designer Naoto Hiraoka, whose brand h. Naoto is a key proponent driving the Gothic Lolita look, states that,

“One of the salient points about Lolita is that it is really a fashion that is not intended to attract men. The women are creating their own world into which they can get away from the pressures of the larger society.”





Feel like shopping to expand your Lolita wardrobe? For starters, check out Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, bodyline, Angelic PrettyManifesteange Metamorphose temps de fille, and h. Naoto. If you really want to sell your soul then please, by all means, study the Gothic & Lolita Bible.

Armed with these resources, you can turn a 180° and do a Sailor Moon transformation, evolving into that adorably powerful Lolita manga character that you have always idolised.



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