Thursday, 8 September 2011

Interscene snarkery

Much has been made on the interwebs about the rivalries and snarking that goes on between various alternative scenes. There are many Goths who dabble in Lolita fashion. Lots of us are attracted to the elegance, attention to detail, and of course the proliferation of beautiful clothes and accessories. Gothic Lolita and EGL are, unsurprisingly, the most popular Lolita styles amongst Goths, but there are a few of us (myself included) who have a strong admiration for other styles, such as Sweet Lolita, as well. There are also some similarities between Goth fashion and Gothic Lolita fashion, particularly if your preferred Goth style is Victorian-tinged - petticoats, high-collared blouses, corsets, cross necklaces, lace gloves and mini top hats, to name but a few.

There are no rules or even really guidelines to Goth fashion, other than 'black is good' and 'watch what you're doing with your make-up, unless you want to look like an angry panda'. Lolita fashion generally takes a more structured approach; for example, there is a preferred silhouette. In issue 26 of Gothic Beauty, an article by Io entitled The Laws of EGL quoted Megan McHugh, a Lolita who organises Loli panels at conventions and runs her own label, MeganMaude; "Regular Goths are more 'anything goes' than Lolitas. Lolitas are very brand-oriented and want to have a very specific look. Experimentation is not exactly looked down on, but if you're going to try something different, it needs to stay within the 'rules'."

Therefore, when Goths begin to dabble in Lolita fashion, they may be unaware of the conventions surrounding the style and the subculture, and may make sartorial 'errors' that, whilst they would not look out of place at any Goth club or event, and may in themselves look rather charming, may receive negative feedback from the Lolita community if posted online because, simply put, they are not Lolita. These misunderstandings are not especially helped by the outfits and accessories marketed by mass-produced Goth brands (e.g. Hell Bunny) under the Lolita label - such outfits are generally too immodest and of poor quality fabric to be accepted by Lolitas, but the Gothling wishing to try something new may not be aware of such a distinction.

Goths who have done their research into Lolita fashion beforehand are less likely to make such errors and as such may find a place within both the Goth and the Lolita communities quite happily. Goths who do not wish to fully adopt a Lolita look but would simply like to give a nod to this style may describe their outfit as 'Lolita-inspired', to show that they are aware their outfit is not 'properly Lolita' and as such avoid causing any offense.

My own run-in with a community of Lolitas ensued when a well-meaning post I made on Piczo regarding Gothic Lolita and Visual Kei fashion was re-posted by some mischievous so-and-so on a Lolita community forum. A throwaway comment about there being patterns in the Gothic and Lolita Bible so that you can sew your own clothes, whilst being harmless when mentioned to young Gothlings who might not have read the G&L Bibles, was somewhat inflammatory and more than a tad ridiculous when posted on a forum where everyone has a copy and where almost everyone probably sews their own everyday wear from scratch. As the cherry on the cake, I discovered that a previous post had been made to this community using a photo of me in a decidedly non-Lolita brand name Goth dress (Living Dead Souls I do believe, black and strappy with hot pink accents), accompanied by a comment along the lines of 'OMG, this is my Lolita dress, isn't it pretty?'... (just in case I need to spell this out, said comment was not at any point made by me and I had never described said outfit as Lolita, because it wasn't. At all. This was just somebody trying to cause trouble.)

Cue a massive round of flaming and bitching from around thirty strangers. *facepalm*

I did post a comment explaining that yes, the photos were mine, but that I hadn't posted them on the forum, and that I had never once said that the outfit they were - metaphorically - ripping to shreds was Lolita, but no one replied. Instead, immediately, like a flock of frilly vultures, they all changed tack and started dissecting my music taste instead (the post that the anonymous mischievous so-and-so copied from Piczo mentioned Girugamesh, a J-rock band that I like, and the Goth rock band RazorBladeKisses, who describe themselves as the 'UK's only Gothic Lolita band').

Whilst I was there, I had a look around at some of the other posts on this community. One girl who was new to Lolita had posted some sketches for an outfit she wanted to make, asking for constructive criticism. Instead of offering help or advice on how she could improve her design, she was instead lampooned with comments along the lines of "How is THIS Lolita?", and more, littered with swearwords and general nastiness.

I am sure that this small group of people is not an accurate reflection of the Lolita community as a whole (or even of that forum as a whole), and I have been on many, many Lolita communities, forums and blogs where people are largely pleasant, polite and helpful both to each other, experienced Lolitas, and those who are curious and would like to learn a little bit more about the subculture and the fashion. However, examples of interscene bitching and snarkery between Goths and Lolitas (or between curious would-be Lolitas and experienced Lolitas) have the same effect as nastiness from established Goths towards babybats - it's offputting and upsetting for those who think they would like to become more involved with the subculture or community.

Spooky tip: It may sound a little harsh, Gothlings, but don't let any non-Goth, no matter how helpful and well-meaning, tidy your clothes. Yes, the thought of letting your neat freak friend or parent convert your floordrobe into something resembling its former glory can be a tempting one, especially for lazygoths, but you may well regret it. You will find your PVC folded, your petticoats crushed, and your multibuckled boots will end up stuffed into a bag where they will leave deep gouges on each other. You might even re-enter the room in time to feel your knees go wobbly in horror as your vintage hat collection is flung around with abandon. I speak from bitter experience, darklings - no matter how lovely and kind your friend's helpful intentions may be, non-Goths sometimes just don't get the delicate treatment which a flamboyant dark wardrobe may require.


Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Lolitas are scary. D: like, i have never met such an angry group of people dressed in lace ever. I have a few lolita dresses - actually lolita - but i don't have the petticoats anymore (I gave them to my friend, as she would wear them more), and plus, they don't particularly suit me all that well anymore.

I've never had any illusions about lolita-ness, and have never had to deal with online lolitas - luckily. However one has had a snark at me in my victorian gear once or twice, all "you're SUCH a wannabe" Because as a non-goth, they know all about how to be goths. :|

akumaxkami said...

As a Lolita and a Goth, I can totally relate to everything you're saying here. There's a lot of hostility in online Lolita forums, girls thinking they own the fashion and make the rules(...tsk tsk, let's not forget, girls, that all this started in Japan so the question of ownership shouldn't even be on the table...) and yeah, they're often particularly harsh to new-Lolitas, forgetting that they themselves were new to it once and also made the same mistakes.

That's why I stay far away from that drama. That's why I love following Lolita blogs here instead, where for the most part, everyone is very nice and encouraging. I know there are a lot of other inspiring and sweet Lolita girls out there too, I just hope they don't get drowned out in a sea of angry lace and self-righteous ruffles.

Tenebris In Lux said...

I can totally relate.

I "liked" this deathrock page on Facebook. Turned out that it was listed as a "monarchy" (wtf?) on Facebook, and the admins were all snarky elitists. They would claim that they were "real Goth" and that they refused to listen to any music outside of the 80s. And yet, some of those kids were my age.

One admin had the nerve to bash me for liking artists like Meatloaf and Marilyn Manson. Another had the nerve to go as far as to saying that my profile picture (on Facebook) looks like I'm sucking on a dude's c**k. -_- More on that later in a post .. sorry about all the ranty-ness.

That sucks that they had to do that to you, though. :-/ Some of those people really need to get a life.

Allison Paige Eckfeldt said...

First off,



You nailed the whole lolita thing right on the fucking head. I dressed sweet lolita and was a life style lolita for a year which means I wore lolita every day and lived to buy brand and such. sadly the people drove me away from the fashion and back to goth.

Lolita girls seem to lack love for each other which is really so sad.

Desdemona said...

I personally found that the first stages of dabbling into Lolita and Goth were exactly the same.
Many years ago when I looked up info about Goth on the internet I ran into this snobby elitist omg-mallgoth attitude. When I looked up info about lolita the first info you get slapped with is "the rules", you must follow them OR ELSE...! Quickly after that you'll find out that both fashions have a stereotype image that is generally found to be deserving of ridicule if you match that image (ubergoths & itas). When new to either fashions, all this info can be discouraging and overwhelming. However once you actually step into a community you'll find that the elitist attitude is far less present than your first impression. Granted I think goth is a bit more forgiving than lolita.
Then again, while lolitas go on and on about skirt lengths and proper socks, goths go on and on about "true" goth music. And I have to say that neither of these discussions interests me.

Julietslace said...

Lolita is not that bad of a community, if you understand the fashion and lurk a bit first it'll be fine. It's shame it's got a rep just because of a small minority.

No worries about that dodgy post on EGL when I found it I did make it clear it wasn't you :) They all knew it was a troll by the end, it was pretty obvious!

Toxic Tears said...

I think its mostly "western" Lolitas that are absolute nutcase bitches a lot of the time tbh..:| Of course I'm sure some of the Asian ones are too, but from what I've seen it seems to be a much smaller percentage.

Phoenix said...

Wow, that is really childish behaviour. Interscene snarkery seems to happen within ANY scene, but I can imagine one that is as fashion based as Lolita would be very strict regarding its rules.

If someone is new to a certain scene and makes a mistake or unintentionally offends someone, the best way to go is to nicely explain what it is they've done wrong and give them helpful suggestions. Shooting down newbies isn't going to help anyone, it'll just increase resentment.

Amelia Jane said...

Hi, I don't even know if anyone will read this comment but I am a Lolita and I just want to say something.

Not all Lolitas are like that - at all. In fact, Lolitas that ARE like that are frowned upon by the rest of us. That behavior is disgusting and typically Lolita newbies are ACCEPTED by the Lolita community, not condemned. A lot of you commenting on this are acting as though all Lolitas are like this, but isn't that just as bad as saying all Goths are Satanists?

Those are just the Lolitas that give the rest of us a bad name, just like there are Goths that give Goth a bad name. Please don't assume we are all like that, because we, just like Goths, are all different and individuals regardless of the fact that we share the same fashion. :)

ultimategothguide said...

Amelia - thanks for this comment, you make a valid point and I apologise if I have given the impression that I feel ALL Lolitas behave in such a manner - as you point out that is certainly not true. I have had the pleasure of meeting many Lolitas via this blog and those who have taken the time to talk to me have been nothing short of delightful.

As with Goth - or indeed any - culture, there are a few whose behaviour reflects poorly on the rest.

Thank you for your comment, I hope that any Lolita newbies reading this will take heart from it.

Amelia Jane said...

I didn't think YOU felt that way at all, just some of the people commenting on this. :)

But I really liked what you wrote, sometimes I wish there wasn't such an invisible wall between different subcultures, if you know what I mean. Goth is actually what gave me the courage to become a Lolita!

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Amelia, firstly, that's an awesome name. Secondly, sorry if I came across that way. I never meant to seem like that.

However, there are a lot of lolitas that will judge you for not wearing brand-name lolita clothing. I don't care, though, because that means that non-elitist brand name lolita (like anna house) shows up second-hand in a nearby lolita boutique. $15 for an adorable Victorian-style lolita shirt? Yes! You have to remember that a $15 shirt in Japan is amazing quality, and what is a $15 shirt here is a $1.50 op shop bin find there. I sound like such a weeaboo when I say this, but Japanese clothing quality is second to none.

I can buy a $30 blouse from K-mart and it'll fall apart in a few weeks, but my $15 Anna House will stick around for ages. That's one good thing snarky lolitas give to the Victorian Goth.

Amelia Jane said...

Actually no, there AREN'T a lot of Lolitas like that. Those are the minority, if you knew a lot of Lolitas you would know that and you would also know that most Lolitas hate it that those rare Lolitas do have that mindset. I am a Lolita, all I own is Bodyline and vintage clothing, I certainly don't look down on anyone who doesn't own brand and I don't look down on anyone who DOES either. Either way is wrong.

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

"A lot"=/="most". It's more than "a few" and less than "many". Overall it is a small percentage, but if you get them all in a room there's still quite a lot of individuals.

But argue a point no one made. That's cool too. Oh, and the Lolita boutique in Fitzroy has a girl working there, and she was telling me all about all the snarky lolitas that come in there and criticise because the shop is the back store room of a Gallery Serpentine stocker.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I found your blog through Gothic Charm School and I just had to comment on this.

In high school I discovered gothic lolita and fell in love with the style. I even had my senior prom dress to replicate a lovely Mary Magdelene dress. I was thrilled with it and had compliments on it all night. :)

I joined a lolita fan group on myspace and mentioned in a post about my replicated prom dress and was surprised to be bashed. It was ONE girl that bashed me because she said why make a loli dress out of cheap satiny prom dress material. I never even mentioned what material it was. Others in the post began to defend me and she began to attack another girl for a completely unrelated matter (the breed of dogs she likes T-T).

I had my prom dress made in a lolita style because I found Mary Magdalene had dresses that looked, well DRESSY and would look lovely made in a satin material. A good example is here:;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXFkOWthBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA2ZpbWc-/SIG=132hdkf2e/EXP=1328237557/**http%3a//

I know that that girl was an exception to the lolita community but I no longer take part in the groups anyway. People should not be deterred from lolita forums but should keep in mind that there are trolls in frilly dresses lurking about.

Thanks for letting me rant, sort of.

miquiztli V""V

Emily Douglass said...

I'm sorry you had to experience that :( I'm very in to both Gothic and Lolita fashion, but because of seeing a lot of elitist posts about Goth, I was turned away from it. I'm determined that this won't happen with Lolita fashion, so I avoid the online Lolita communities. I'm also trying to get back in to Goth. Again, very, very sorry you had to experience that.

(On a side note, I think there's a section on EGL listing over all nasty Lolitas to avoid and ignore, I think some have been banned, as well, but I'm not 100% sure, since I've only been on there a couple of times.)

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