Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lolita and obsession

I'm writing today's post as a way of sharing some ideas, but also in order to address some problems I see developing in myself surrounding my "fashion obsession". I see this as a two-tiered issue, so I'll approach one aspect of it and then the next separately. The first problem is probably the more obvious (and perhaps less noxious) of the two - Wanting.

It is normal, when you develop an interest in any area, to pursue that interest with some intensity, and to feel a desire for the things that are a part of that interest. But I feel that a lot of lolitas tend to assume that a whole new level of interest is perfectly appropriate - to be constantly lusting after the perfect dress, checking sales communities for the best deals, looking for inspiring photographs of girls and their wardrobes (not to mention their rooms, gardens, and so on), and learning new ways to apply makeup to get that ultimate doll-face. There is interest, and then there is obsession, and within the lolita community (and probably the fashion community as a whole), this is considered a normal and even necessary part of life.

I imagine some of this has to do with the ease of gathering information these days. In the past, we wouldn't have made any assumptions that we could always be up-to-date with the latest styles and products, but nowadays it's not just geeks who have ten tabs open in their browser, keeping one eye on the online world at all times. There is a sentiment coming from the uber-cool that if you're not aware of Angelic Pretty's latest print, if you don't know which stores are having big sales, or you haven't seen the snaps from the latest official brand party, you're just not paying attention. And of course it's a vicious cycle - once a few people start to see the world this way, the pressure on everyone to be in the loop grows.

On top of this, seeing what all the other girls have can give you a false sense of what should be available to you. Instead of buying something beautiful and being satisfied with it, you are constantly confronted with images of other lovely things which you start to want just as much. Before you know it, you forget how much you wanted that last dream dress, you stop being happy with it and you focus all your attention onto getting something new. The trouble is, desire is addictive - as usual I've managed to lose the research I was going to quote here, but essentially it has been theorised that while we are on a search for something we want, we're bombarded with all sorts of endorphines and other neurotransmitters like adrenaline that make us excited and give us a sense of purpose. It isn't the thing we want, it's the wanting itself. It makes sense, we're hunter-gatherers. Our minds are trained to search for things. But in a day and age when most of us have all the necessities, our searches have become meaningless. Once the hunt is over, the thing we've caught is of no use to us. It doesn't sate our appetite, nor shelter us from harm, nor bring us closer to the ones we love.

I can't speak for anyone else, and I'm certainly not trying to instill a sense of guilt in my readers, but I worry, because I know how this obsession has started to affect me. This is the second aspect of obsession that I'd like to talk about. The big problem is not that you don't get everything that you want. It's that one day, it won't have the importance in your life that it used to. You might stop caring about clothes so much. You might not want to look cute anymore. You might just lose interest. What are you left with?

This is where I make a distinction between a keen interest and an obsession - if you could do away with your interest and still have a wholesome and happy life, I see little cause for concern. But if you've left behind your other interests, if all your attention is focused on the one thing to the detriment of all the other things in the wide world that you could be pursuing, maybe it's become something of a problem. Loving something is wonderful - needing it is not. Having such a strong passion for lolita has resulted in me neglecting some of the things I used to hold most dear to me. For some time, I almost completely forgot about my love of music, art, and science. I stopped caring so much about my friends and the love of my life. I was so busy thinking about how much I wanted whatever beautiful print it was that I could or couldn't buy, that I stopped seeing all the beauty around me. Essentially, lolita narrowed my existence down to one small facet. And I didn't even notice at first.

But we haven't visited the Baby store yet!

So girls, take a leaf out of my book and have a good look at yourself (no, not your clothes, your self!) and make sure you're loving lolita but not needing it. I'll leave it there, and hopefully inspire you to love what you have with these few tips:

  • Go through the things you own in your wardrobe (and jewelry box and so on), and for each item, try to bring back the feelings you first had for it - remind yourself why you wanted it so much and learn to really love it again
  • Think about new and interesting ways to coordinate your things - it's amazing how you can feel like you have a whole new outfit if you just wear it with a different complimentary colour
  • Find a friend who likes lolita and share your wardrobe with her for a day. She'll fall in love with your things and you'll see how wonderful they are from another perspective
  • Don't wear lolita for a while. If you normally wear it every day, leave it for a week. If you normally wear it once a week, wear something else for a month, and so on. When you come back to it, it will be fresh and lovely
  • Rearrange your room/wardrobe to better display your clothes. I'm on the lookout for a mannequin to put dresses/outfits on, you could do this too, or think of other cute ways to store your clothes and accessories
That's all for today. Thanks for reading ^__^


  1. It isn't the thing we want, it's the wanting itself.

    Best line in this article.

    I totally know exactly what you mean. I've always loved frilly pretty clothes and all that goodness. But I never knew it had a specific name in fashion. When I stumbled upon the lolita community, this fire was lit inside me - I couldn't think about anything else. I even thought about lolita while I was asleep! All my dreams for weeks were about it!

    Now that I have a few pieces and I've worn 'real" lolita clothes a few times, I've calmed down and it's not so crazy, but I still compulsively check the sales comm, but I also check other websites for sales because I like shopping and dislike spending money :3

    Great article!

  2. I was thinking about something similar recently, when deciding whether I should get more lolita clothes or buy an artbook, since I collect those too. It's good (imho) to have a variety of interests, but dang is it costly.

  3. I like what you did with your blog.

    Followin !

  4. Interesting post, I really like your blog.

  5. Yea, I get obsessed with a lot of things, but particularly shopping and buying things. It's gotten better since I had to restrict my spending and I retain my excitement about the clothes for longer.

    Interesting post!

  6. Are you a writer? I love reading your blog posts they are always interesting. :3

  7. This was really interesting to read, because I can really relate in a way :D

  8. I was becoming lolita obsessed about 2 years ago, never happy with what I owned and trying to diet to fit into brand. But then one day i realised what I was doing and was like, this is WRONG.
    So I remeoved all the lolita communities from my favourites.
    Money Saved.
    I agree, having a variety of intrests is good, but bad, monetarily. For instance, I have to weigh up the importance of:
    roller derby
    vintage maxi dresses
    penguin books
    university degrees
    All of which I'm in love with. >_<

  9. Thank you all for your comments! Having a variety of interests can be very costly can't it? I like the idea of having a few hobbies that don't cost anything much - I love going to the beach, and doing pencil sketches, they're basically free :)

    @ClaudiaEthos: I'm not a writer, but I love to write, and I've always been an avid reader. It helps having something interesting to write about!

  10. Those ideas can be applied to many things.. though in a different sense. Like, If you dont keep up on technology, you will have no clue what the latest thing is. It is almost overwhelming!

  11. This is so true. The thrill of the hunt is so exciting, getting the dress in the mail is exciting, and then on to the next dress.

  12. Sorry, I'm going to comment spam this blog too -___-;;;

    Basically, I agree.
    My two cents is that... Well I always felt a bit like I was out of the loop or not doing it right or something, becauase I don't obsess. I'm not part of any communities except the Perth one, I don't really look up lolita except to keep up to date with BTSSB (admittedly, I do tend to save most of the pictures on the website, but that started as sewing/drawing inspiration).
    On the other hand, I did spend like 3 or 4 out of my 5 days in Tokyo shopping for lolita and visiting every BTSSB store in the Tokyo area =__=;;

    Basically, after highschool I realised I was just too lazy to be obsessed with anything. I have favourite bands that I love to absolute death, but don't know the band members' names or anything.

    As for lolita, of course I love it, and I would like to continue with it for life, but realistically, I realise that one day I my interests might move on and I won't feel as strongly about lolita as I do now - in that case I would feel pretty bad having spent thousands of dollars on clothes I would no longer want to wear....

    As for the wanting, I have always appreciated the wanting, it is something I rather enjoy about lolita - browsing the BTSSB website every week drooling over dresses I know I will probably never own. I guess that is the difference - my expectation is that I will not own most (or in the past, *any*) of the dresses, so I feel very appreciative of what I have and having like 5 brand dresses (second hand, of course) I already feel spoilt and like I will not need to add to my wardrobe for a year or three.

    Sorry, my two cents was more like two dollars. And, er, not so useful, really.
    Just kind of wanted to say that some of us feel a bit like fakes or something sometimes because we are not as 'obsessed' as the others.

  13. Oh, you absolutely should not feel bad for not being osbsessed, being preoccupied with these things is not good! (wow triple negative there...)

    You're a breath of fresh air, keep commenting! :D

  14. Hmmm... your posts have made me think hard still of lolita and my own values. Like will this really be healthy for me if I have OCD? Just researching it and reading about it I feel obsessive pangs seriously. I also love Fair trade. Somehow I thought lolita clothing didn't rely on 3rd world labour except for Bodyline because it's cheap. I thought brand name lolitas were made in Japan by skilled seamstresses? People in Japan get paid like us, fairly, well fair enough.