I realize that the title of this blog post sounds a lot like an after school special, but given that Bibliotheca’s February theme is “Romance” I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ll admit that I could probably take my own advice (I don’t wear or mention lolita fashion around my parents), but I have broached the topic with some somewhat prickly friends.
For fans of lolita fashion, there’s something pretty indescribable in what is so appealing about our frills. Before I bought my first dresses, my breath caught in my throat every time I saw a classic lolita coordinate. However, trying to convey that to the people around you can be a little more difficult.
Loved ones’ objections can range from the well intentioned (It’s so much money!) to the insulting (You look like a toddler). Here are some ideas for talking to your loved ones about j-fashion.
Pick your boundaries and your battles
Even if you dream of a lolita lifestyle, the simple fact of the fashion is that it doesn’t work for all situations. Be thoughtful about when you wear your clothes. If your coord is going to distract from something bigger than you (weddings, birthdays, or other celebrations come to mind), maybe save it for another time. Lolita is loud and if you’re constantly showing up improperly dressed, your loved ones are going to have some objections.
However, you don’t have to concede to other people all the time. If your significant other or friends won’t be seen in public while you’re in lolita, it’s time to have a conversation. You should be able to enjoy your hobby without loud objections everytime you engage in it.
When you broach the topic, try to pick a time when everyone is well rested, fed, and have some time to talk. This will ensure that hopefully everyone can enter the conversation with patience and an open mind. Take some time beforehand to consider what boundaries you’d like to establish. Maybe you’d like an end to negative remarks about your clothes or questions about your finances (assuming you aren’t being irresponsible with your fun funds). Come up with some specific requests that you can pose.
Treat their objections will consideration and respect
Deep down, most of our loved ones don’t want to cause us pain, so their objections to j-fashion will come from a place of (misguided) fear. If you want to gain their acceptance or support, it’s a good idea to try to meet them where they are. If someone is concerned about “What the neighbors will think?” remind them that not every decision in life needs to be signed off by the Jones’ next door. If they’re concerned about associations with the “other Lolita”, you can educate them about the ways in which the fashion differs from the book. If they object to the seemingly endless parade of packages showing up on the porch, explain how you budget for your wardrobe.
Don’t be afraid to demand more than tolerance from your loved ones (especially partners and chosen family)
While you may never get your mother to approve of your frilly fashion, don’t be afraid to require your chosen family or partner to do more than tolerate your hobby. Assuming that your j-fashion hobby isn’t draining your bank account or that community drama isn’t sabotaging your relationship, it’s fair to ask for some enthusiasm.
I’ve been dating my partner since before I got into lolita, so he witnessed the slow accumulation of my wardrobe (and my rapid takeover of our shared closet space). While he doesn’t have any interest in the fashion, he knows it makes me happy. He has never complained or asked me to change when I chose to wear frills. In fact, his biggest complaint is that my petticoats are on the floor and someone is going to trip on them. While it would be wonderful to have a partner who cared about new releases, it’s also wonderful to have someone who has never objected to my clothes and tells me I look cute.
Tailor your approach
In a particularly memorable interaction, I dressed up in a simple coordinate for a game night with friends. While some of my friends had seen me in frills or knew about my hobby, one friend, Tom, had missed the memo. My friends engage in some good natured teasing, so I wasn’t very fazed when I came into the door and Tom yelled at me from across the room, “What are you wearing?” It seemed like he hoped to get some kind of reaction out of me or my other friends. I told him that I was wearing clothes and did not elaborate further. No one else really batted an eye at my coord, so Tom shut up pretty quickly.
Later, privately, I told Tom that the clothes were an important hobby to me and that I didn’t appreciate him trying to make fun of it. Tom was contrite and apologized. In this instance, while I could have called him out in the moment, a group setting wasn’t the best place to address his confusion and questions about what I was wearing. Instead, I politely redirected him and had a more in depth conversation when he was more receptive to my explanation.
Show them what the fashion has brought you
Sometimes it’s hard for other people to see the appeal of a hobby they don’t participate in. If your friends and family seem receptive but misguided, try showing them what you love about it. Brag about your community and friends. Show them the art you’ve created. Tell them about the creativity it inspires.
Invite them to share in your hobby
Now, I don’t think that everyone in your life will want to put on a petticoat and join you at your next tea party. However, your friends and family will understand your love of all things frilly if you invite them into it. Next time you win an auction for a dream dress, text your non-j-fashion friends! Ask your partner to watch you walk at your local convention fashion show. See if your grandmother has advice for your next sewing adventure. Send your siblings your wishlist for your next birthday.
If all else fails, follow Momoko
As the wise protagonist of Kamikaze Girls once said, “Humans are cowards in the face of happiness. It takes courage to hold on to happiness.” Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we may just not be able to get through to someone. If they don’t like lolita, just cut them out of your life. I’m kidding! However, you should limit how much you expose them to your hobby. After too many comments from my parents about my weird fashion choices, I stopped wearing j-fashion around them and blocked them from my Instagram. It’s a bummer that not everyone reacts positively to my hobby, but I love wearing lolita and I don’t need to hear the negative comments. I think we’ve all been much happier since I limited them to j-fashion.