Thursday, February 23, 2012

living in a non-lolita city part 1: reactions

This is the first article in a series of three that I am going to write dealing with living in places that aren't typically seen as fashion capitals.
from we heart it
I live in Kentucky, a state that is generally though of as a place filled with cousin-marrying, shoeless hillbillies.  While I will defend my homestate to the death (I promise you, we really aren't like that!) I have to admit that it is not the most culturally, politically, or fashionably advanced place in the United States.  My city, Louisville, the largest in the state, has been trying its hardest to become a "fun" and "unique" city, in the same vein as New York City or Seattle.  However, being located in the south doesn't lend itself well to everyone being accepting of any and every weird subculture that you can throw at them.  There are still ignorant people, people who will shun you, spit at you, laugh at you, or verbally attack you for being different in any way.

I'm glad to live in a city that can at least say that they want to celebrate things outside of the norm, but it's still hard to feel truly accepted in a city filled with people who will stare at you and laugh at you behind your back.  Of course, this truly can be found anywhere; it is not the city that makes people rude, it is the people themselves.  However, I've always felt the most comfortable in large cities, such as New York and London, urban centers that are in the middle of the fashion world.  The south specifically has generally been known as an non-accepting place, going way far back in time to the days of slavery.  There are still racists, sexists, and homophobes that can be found in the south; again, this sort of person can really be found anywhere, but it seems that the south is a hotbed for prejudices because of the long history of intolerance.

While wearing lolita and being made fun of is in no way comparable to being the target of racism or sexism, it definitely isn't very fun.  It's hard to wear lolita in a small city centered in a generally conservative state.  However, it is not impossible, and you can actually get used to it after a while!  Here are a few tips that I've gathered that help me when I don't quite feel comfortable, or when I'm nervous about wearing lolita in my city.

  • Don't care about what other people think of you.  This seems pretty obvious as it should! and I know it's a very hard thing to do sometimes, but really, this is the number one tip that can be given.  Even though it doesn't seem practical, and sometimes I just can't deal with it because I care so much about what other people think of me, I know that this is truly the only thing that I can do to get over any fears that I may have about wearing lolita in public.
  • Go out with other people.  This is also a really important tip!  I always feel so much safer with other people, even if those people aren't wearing lolita.  Just being with friends can really lighten your mood and make you feel better about yourself.  If you have other people to talk to, you can really focus less on your clothes and more on talking to them, which will, in turn, let you tune out people who might be making fun of you.
  • If you have other lolita friends, or friends who wear other alternative styles, go out with them.  It's definitely more fun to go out with like-minded (or rather, like-dressed) people because if someone says something rude to you or your friends, it is a lot easier to just laugh it off, because you'll be with other people who have probably heard similar things thousands of times.  Also, it gives you something to laugh about later in the day!
  • Don't think that all comments are going to be negative.  Often times when I go out, I hear many negative comments and I see people staring at me with uncomfortable or confused looks on their faces.  However, I also get some positive comments!  My favourites come from older women who sometimes get positively ecstatic when they see one or more lolitas, and I always feel good when teenage or college-aged girls compliment my outfits because then I think, "Hey, maybe she's a lolita in the making!"

If you really feel uncomfortable wearing alternative styles in your hometown, the simplest, but maybe not the most ideal, thing to do is to just not wear your favourite fashions.  Keep the lolita wearing inside your house, or maybe just with very close friends.  Your top concern should be your safety after all!

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