The Cloistered Maiden Beside American Puritanical Ideals
The above idea has appeal yet is contrary to the typical American lifestyle which I have as my basis of comparison. Based on ideals of individual perseverance and hard work, the American dream instead emphasizes the ability of a person to rise while working hard at their chosen career, pushing constantly at the boundaries of their physical endurance while raising children in the background and attempting to save for retirement which at best usually consists of sunny years spent in Florida.
With the above American vision being the surrounding culture especially in my area of the conservative South, I often struggle with feelings of being an outlier and wonder how to reconcile in a lolita lifestyle while not only working in corporate America but also functioning as a web development programmer, a field typically bereft of feminine touch. For some, lolita acts only as a fashion and a way of dress in their lives, but I have often desired to live more akin to the maiden above albeit with a laptop and iPod also at my side. How then, do I become a lifestyle lolita? Can I even become a lifestyle lolita surrounded by the pressures and high paced lifestyle of the modern world?
What Does Being a Lifestyle Lolita Mean?
As the first step, I need to put forth what being a lifestyle lolita even means to begin with. I would put a Merriam-Webster style definition here if I had one. Often, a lifestyle is more easily defined when examining what the self described participants in the lifestyle engage in consistently. A 2005 entry from egl lists out 101 ideas for lifestyle lolita to participate in. In essence, the suggestions of the list mostly embody Victorian ladylike habits. Pressed flower journals, trips to centers of culture like museums and libraries, sewing and embroidery, baking and tea: all of which contain an essence of properness and lofty etiquette. Notably, the list strays a bit from purely Victorian ideas and mentions watching anime such as Rozen Maiden and taking a pilgrimage to Japan, the birth place of lolita fashion as we commonly know the movement today.
F Yeah Lolita's Miss Caro-chan wrote an article detailing the idea of the 'pure maiden' in lolita culture. She describes earlier days of lolita with the taking up of some lolita hobbies being just not encouraged but a must for the budding community member in an era where actual Japanese brand clothing was extremely hard to acquire. Miss Caro-chan also details how even though the pure maiden was never confirmed to really exist, she nonetheless holds a place in her heart as the ultimate lolita one would hope to be in the early days of the fashion. Though the standard may not be achievable by the vast majority of lolitas, she is a distant jewel, a perfect girl to always strive towards in the pursuit of a suitably frilly lifestyle.
So, You Think You Want To Be A Lifestyle Lolita by Parfait Doll emphasizes the importance of the individual defining what the lifestyle is to themselves and mentions the dangers of limiting the expression of oneself simple because an act would contradict with their outside image as a lolita. Rather than going by strict rules, the approach emphasized is to figure out what the lifestyle lolita herself desires, for what reasons, and then pursue those goals in earnest, intuitively reaching out for what makes the individual feel. I found the idea of customization to the needs of the particular lolita to be important to being able to achieve a lolita lifestyle in general society. As individuals who are immersed deeply in a world of technologies, the emphasis on being able to pursue the lolita lifestyle and not being any less lolita for other activities is freeing. In my personal life, then, my love of technology and interest in programming and video games would not detract from my lolita lifestyle, only the activities I indulge in such as drinking tea and sketching in my spare time would contribute to a positive sum total.
Ultimately, then, what do the above three articles and my own personal thoughts lead to be defining the lifestyle lolita as? The concept is ultimately too varied to have a perfect hard definition, but I would lean towards defining a lifestyle lolita as:
A person involved with lolita fashion who takes elements from Victorian era culture and modern Japanese fashion culture and attempts, to varying degrees, to merge the aforementioned elements into her daily life.
I think the above encompasses many of the various standards of lifestyle lolita including the amount of variability which can occur in the amount that an individual adopts the movement. Being a lifestyle lolita is therefore not a binary switch but instead a matter with many tiers of gradation and individual taste.
Reconciling The Lolita Dream To The American Reality
Taking the above, a lifestyle lolita can then stray as far as she needs from the much more strict idea of maidenhood that the introduction described. Achievement of the lolita lifestyle does not become a task which can be readily judged by the outside world but instead is dependent upon the inner world of the lolita. While the dressing in uncommon clothes and partaking in self centered hobbies may then come into conflict with some parts of the culture of America, the individual lolita is free to push against the boundaries as much as she comfortably feels and still be able to hold precious her identity as a lifestyle lolita. The lolita who works in corporate America and fears that she won't be able to advance in her job because of a perceived 'frivolous' nature in her manners can then still be a lifestyle lolita with subtle hints such as Japanese phone charms, Victorian styled jewelry accents and a cup of tea instead of the usual coffee as her desk every morning. She could also maintain a floral themed room or perhaps have a large collection of dolls which she cherishes in the privacy of her home. The ability to achieve such an individually tailored life, to me, is what embodies the true core of the American dream: the freedom of an individual to choose their path. After much pondering, then, the lolita lifestyle suddenly seems much closer in reach. One simply has to find it.