Monday, December 12, 2011

"I'll be 50 and still wearing loli!!" ... would you really?

Recently, I caught up with reading Mitsukazu Mihara's manga works. For anyone not familiar with Mitsukazu Mihara, besides being a Gothic Lolita-centric mangaka, she has also illustrated many of the Gothic Lolita Bibles' covers. Several of her short stories have also been featured within GL Bibles.

One of her one-shots touched a nerve in me. The story starts innocuously enough with a young woman living alone in Tokyo. She gets frequent phonecalls from her family telling her to go back home for marriage meetings that they've set up but she refuses as she's determined to keep her independence and her love for loli fashion. As a lolita, she gets plenty of stares and whispers whenever she goes out wearing her frilly dresses and parasols. Is she lonely? It's hinted that she is isolated and ostracised because of her goth loli love. Her only companion is a robot doll (one of Mihara's favourite recurring themes is life-like androids who sometimes are more human than humans themselves) and another person whom she has never seen but communicates regularly through her cellphone over their mutual adoration for EGL fashion.

At the end of the story, nothing is what it seems and the young woman is revealed to be not so young in actuality. And it's implied that the stares she attracts is not because she wears lolita but because she's probably in her 50s more or less and still dressing up in loli fashion. She's living in a delusion created by herself that she's still young, still pretty and she doesn't need friends or human companions, just her doll and her dresses.

This is where it hits me. How old is too old? On forum discussions regarding age, one does see older lolitas in their 30s and 40s but they are very much in the minority. And naturally most would say that it doesn't matter what age one is at as long as you still love the fashion. That's the nice, positive outlook to have but in all honesty, loli simply isn't a very good fashion style to wear when one has reached a certain age and does show that age. This fashion does have ageism factors, no matter how we try to encourage older lolitas.

I'll be hitting the 40s in a few more years and even if I still feel like a 20 something-year-old mentally, my body is definitely aging and showing the wear and tear that comes with the territory. Another school of opinion states that as long as one looks good in loli, who cares if you're 20, 30, 40, 50, 60. Thing is, not everyone can be an ageless-looking Nicole Kidman, Aishwarya Rai (or Mana with judicious photoshopping if you really want to push the ageless gothic lolita envelope). Regular women, even those who exercise regularly, would start seeing signs of age starting from their mid-30s.

Loli fashion in itself isn't very forgiving already to those who are plus-sized, let alone if one has age spots, crows' lines, deepening grooves around the nose and cheeks. Aging signs doesn't have to be horrible, of course. People do and can age gracefully! But is persistently wearing a subculture fashion that is very much targeted and styled for a young crowd aging gracefully? And I do think loli fashion has an ageism limit to it. Even for the milder classical styles, there comes a time when loli dresses just looks and sits oddly on one's gradually aging appearance and body.

Even though positive and well-meaning thinking dictates that as long as you love the fashion, it doesn't matter or shouldn't matter how people look at you when you're out and about wearing it. But all that's said and done, it does take a great strength of will and character not to care or feel hurt or embarrassed at times about the whispers, curious sidelong glances, snickers or nasty remarks. I can't help but think a lot of older lolitas do and would start feeling more self-conscious as pressure would be stronger on older women 'to dress your age' because that's how I feel, especially in an Asian society.

She's got Bette Davis eyesssss

While I don't think I'm in danger of reenacting a macabre scene from 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' anytime soon, an encroaching fourth decade is making me reconsider on the future of lolita fashion and its wearability for myself. I will still always love and enjoy lolita fashion but I would hesitate wearing it as I get older (and older) until I stop completely. When that happens, I think I would continue to buy loli dresses to keep and appreciate as a hobby but I won't be wearing them anymore.


  1. I love your post! I think you're never to old for Lolita. I have idffrent view on To Young for Lolita, but I plan to still wear Lolita until I die.

  2. @Kathleen>> It's truly a wonderful sentiment to still plan to wear lolita till we die, lol! I just don't know if it's feasible for me since in my advancing old age, I'm going to be dumpy and saggy, haha. Maybe it's more doable in a Western context because the West tend to have more of the beautiful aging little old ladies that might still suit loli, lol.

  3. I'm surprised you said that because in the West, we tend to think that Asian women age better than we do and can wear younger fashions much longer!

  4. Sue>> Yes but a lot of Caucasian women age very prettily into those silver-hair granny types, lol. I know that is a bit of a stereotype actually but it's also partly a stereotype that Asians age better. I think Asians do show their age slower than Caucasians though but in the end, whether one ages well probably still depends on good living with plenty of exercise ;)

  5. I think perhaps the style simply evolves and you age? I don't see anything wrong with grown women wearing more formal Victorian attire. Lady-like, rather than girlish, while still maintaining that innocence. A lolita will always be a lolita at heart. Her body ages, but (she must make) fashion adjust to her, not the other way around :)What do 'older women' wear in different periods? I'm sure adjustments can be made to keep such an integral element in lolita culture.

    1. What you say makes sense but personally, I'm not sure it will work so well in an Asian context, lol. For older Asian women, wearing lolita-esque clothing will just attract the wrong kind of attention here. The peer pressure is extremely harsh here. Not caring about what others think and wear whatever we like as long as we feel good in it sounds and is wonderful but it's a lot easier to say it than to actually do it here. Like I mentioned, one needs strong willpower not to care about the comments, sniggers and open stares too.

      Even in Japan, a lot of lolitas do have the mindset that, once they hit a certain age or become a working adult, they won't wear this fashion anymore. There's just a lot of societal pressures and conformity expectations that comes into play when living in an Asian country. I can't speak for Western countries! But I'm of the opinion it is easier there to wear whatever one likes regardless of age, that most westerners will merely view it as a cute eccentricity on the wearer's part. Although I'm sure there are rude comments and stares too at lolitas in the west but if one is 50 and still wearing lolita-esque clothing with an aging body in Singapore, most people would laugh derisively, point openly, whispers of crazy lady under their breaths among other things >_<"