fredag den 25. april 2014

LBC: A Lolita Coordinate Based on a Constellation

This week I'm back on the carousel of the Lolita blog carnival, and this time, we're taking a trip through space. Of course, that means we have to dress for the occasion, and me? I chose the constellation, "Cassiopeia", for my inspiration!

I decided to take a step back and read up on my greek mythology to learn the story of the constellation, before creating my coordinate.
 Apparently, Cassiopeia was the beautiful but vain mother of Andromeda, the wife of the hero Perseus. Cassiopeia was also the queen of Ethiopia, and because she bragged about how she thought herself more beautiful than the nereids, Ethiopia suffered the wrath of Poseidon and was destroyed by a sea serpent.
A fascinating story, I think. 
I decided to build my coordinate around the mythological figure: Cassiopeia, the beautiful but vain queen.

And this was the result!

I picked Alice and the Pirates' "Gather Chiffon" jumperskirt, to keep the centerpiece very recognizably Lolita, as I knew I'd go very, very far out the "Ancient Greece" tangent with the rest of my coordinate. That piece is one of the most iconic AATP dresses, I think, but it also has the gathered bodice and flowy-look that might lead you to think of a toga, a little bit.
Next, I decided to go all out on chunky, attention-grabbing gold accessories. The dress in itself is very detailed and opulent, but since it's just plain white, I think it can handle a little bit of "bling". This coordinate needs to be fit for a queen vain enough to destroy cities, after all!
But since we're talking a queen, I wanted to keep it mature and elegant. I added in the veil to cover up the shoulders in an elegant way, and if you want, it can be draped in a toga-like fashion.
I had a bit of a problem finding the perfect pair of shoes, as I think regular greek sandals would look a bit silly. In the end, I chose a pair of heels that had the look a little bit.

To top it all off, put your hair up in the braided, greek version of the "hime" hair do, and there you go! Ready to rule the world, 800 BC!

Which constellation would you honor, if you went on a picnic with "The Little Prince" among the stars?
You can find more inspiration below!

onsdag den 23. april 2014

Stereotypes of Japan in the West: The "Hello Kitty" Music Video

Hello, everyone! I am back on the Northern Star, and I hope you guys had as nice an Easter as I did!

Just yesterday Avril Lavigne released a new music video titled "Hello Kitty", and from there on it has spread like wildfire through the "Cute Culture" world on the internet. While the lyrics themselves are a nonsensical mish-mash of stereotypically "kawaii" things mixed in with some vaguely sexual hints (rolling around in your underwear and playing spin the bottle with Hello Kitty?), I think that "that" in itself says a lot about how the western world sees Japan. That's what I'm gonna be talking about, from a non-expert, purely spectator-based perspective.

It is no secret that I, as an "alterna-teen", had an Avril Lavigne phase, and I was not alone. Avril Lavigne has always, I think, been a bit of an icon for young teens trying to fit in, speaking to our rebellious side with songs like "Sk8er Boy" and "Complicated", back in the day. As Japan is crawling out of the Underground shadows and the japan-obsessed community grows into a prominent part of youth culture (still mainly based around the "alternative teenagers"), it seems only natural that she would switch from the punk-emo look to one of a more sexy-kawaii-weaboo type.
That would be just fine, I think, if she didn't also choose to feed off of the stereotypes concerning japanese culture, and by her status as an icon, hammering them down even more.

Enough Lolitas has experienced the common misconception of Lolita being a "sex thing" that it is getting really old, and honestly the mentioning of Lolita being "just a Japanese streetfashion" rarely seems to help. Usually it just fuels the fire a little more, and the individual asking the question tends to just roll their eyes a little bit, expressing their preconception of "the perverted, old japanese men" if not in words, then very obviously in their reaction. It is a very common, negative stereotype that japanese 'cute culture' is all about dressing for the pleasure of older japanese men.
This is a stereotype that might stem from the spread of animé before most other parts of japanese culture, and western people subsequently digging into the more "mature" section of the genre, though I have not done any further research into it.

This stereotype can, however, be seen expressed through miss Lavigne's lyrics. The use of childish games and expressions throughout the lyrics, like "pinky swear", "come and play", "pillow fight" and the like, along with suggestive themes like "roll around in our underwear", "I've got something you need to see" and her sexualized costume clearly hints at the sexual "kawaii" stereotype of Japan.
I don't think this song was aimed at a young enough demographic that "pinky swears" and Hello Kitty toys for actual playing was still relevant- Also, she fatshames in her song, which is not very common in children's songs.

Another problem with this new song is not actually the song, in my opinion, but the representation of the Japanese women in the video. They seem to be completely without emotion and a mind of their own. Either this is hinting at the "robots everywhere!" stereotype, or else, it might be a hint at how Westerners tend to think of typical japanese women as very quiet, softspoken and dominated by society. They do not have a mind of their own, until Avril Lavigne, as the centerpiece of the video, makes them laugh.

Finally, they walk behind her all the time, following her around as if they were her "dolls", which I think is a very problematic image. To me, it screams racism. In a video about japanese culture, probably filmed in japan, the japanese people in the video do not get a voice of their own.
They're used as props, while the white woman rolls around in all the "kawaii" she can scavenge, completely taking over their world.

All in all, I think the only people who're going to enjoy this song, are the ones new to japanese culture, who have not quite yet shed the stereotypical viewpoints.
It will be gone and forgotten before we know it.

Do you agree? Do you think I'm reading too much into this?
Do you enjoy the song, or do you wish you could un-hear it? Let me know!

torsdag den 10. april 2014

LBC: What's Next On Your Lolita Wishlist?

Ooh~ I love dream topics! This week in the Lolita Blog Carnival tent we all get to fantasize a little bit about what we would like to buy next, if we had the cold cash 
(or the will to keep our wallet in our pockets until we'd saved up and hunted down that perfect piece)

I'm currently sitting in the dark of that antiquated little cabin that is my home, budgetting with trembling fingers on an online calculator, to figure out if I can afford to purchase this beautiful piece by Baby, The Stars Shine Bright!

The print is called "Memories of my First Soirée", and is jawdroppingly, deliciously gorgeous! I can almost hear the piano playing in the background and smell the overwhelming flowerscented perfume! (Even if I wouldn't wanna live in the Victorian era, a girl can always wear her dreams? That's one of the perks of Lolita for ya')

I love the unusual color combination. The pink and green is a lot more pronounced than you usually see when they're played up together. I think the clearly yellowish ivory might be a little difficult to coordinate, but I'll do my very best to make it work! Everything for a new dream piece, right?

If I don't succeed in acquiring this dress before it's gone, though, I'm the type that just jump on whatever I fall in love with. I think about it a lot first, but I don't hunt down a specific piece. My wishlist is long, and in Lolita, opportunities are gone quicker than a jumpy rabbit!

Now I'm curious. Do you guys tend to hunt down a specific piece, are you more of an impulse buyer, or are you more like me, somewhere in between?

Want to know what else is popular on the Lolita market right now? Check out the blogs below!

fredag den 4. april 2014

Why "Beauty at Any Size" Doesn't Work

(This post might be triggering to some, though I'm writing it with the best, most body positive intentions. I also want to underline, that what I'm writing is not directed at people with any eating disorder or similar issues.)

A couple of days ago, I had a very special moment on Tumblr. Many people who have a Tumblr account know, that it is home to both real and misunderstood feminism, body positivity and young people with bad selfconfidence who hate themselves. It can be both very serious, and a place to waste a serious amount of time when you just want to turn off your brain completely.

Usually, I just use it for the last point, hitting reblog on autopilot. 
I happen to, of course, be following a couple of friends on there, and a couple of days ago, one of them reblogged a post that made me stop. It broke my autopilot.

It was this animation with a bunch of skinny bodies. Thigh gaps and flat tummies and everything, flickering past one by one, and then the text "I need to be like these girls". The post still only had  about 25 notes, but knowing the self confidence issues of Tumblr, this was sure to blow up sooner or later. I'd seen plenty of posts kind of like that, but something about this specific post just seemed a lot more "In your face!" than any of the other ones.
So what do you do? I was a little torn. 

Part of my mind was hindered by what the danish calls the "Jantelov" 
(my dictionary translates it to "The Jante Law", but I'm not sure how well know it is outside of Denmark and Scandinavia)
It's like a mindset- Part of it is "don't think you're capable of making a difference!" and since I grew up with that, my head told me that it would be obnoxious of me to try and make a difference. It would be obnoxious of me to make a lengthy note with my opinion written beneath somebody else's post, telling them why I think it was wrong. Even if I found the post to be harmful, and I knew that post would cause nothing but pain to a lot of people. But why should anybody care what I think? This is none of my business!
Long story short, I jumped at it, and I wrote a lengthy note beneath the post, expressing my opinion.
To my surprise, I had received a message the next morning. Surprising, since I'm not the kind of Tumblr person who gets a lot of messages or replies to my posts.

It turns out the message was from the girl who had made the post in the first place. She told me that my comment on her post had changed her mind. It had inspired her to join a Fitness center, throw out the fastfood and she had bought a new pair of shorts (in a healthy size!) for summer, to motivate herself.
This moved me so, so much.
I had managed to make a difference, in a much bigger way than I had hoped for. But I see a lot of "body acceptance" on the internet. 

I see plenty of "curvy girls are beautiful girls" and "beauty at any size" and so on. How did a simple post I made on Tumblr, manage to make a girl who had obviously been powerfully envious at "skinny girls" strive towards becoming not skinny, but healthy?

I've been considering my stance on this issue for a long time, and here's what I think. 

This was also the views that I expressed in that post I wrote.
Let me share the post, for starters. I excuse the swearing.

"No. You need to be like YOU, and to be happy! Not everyone has the physique to look like the women in the pictures, and not everybody should. 
It took me a long time to learn to understand that. Everybody’s “happy and healthy” is different. Yours is sexy, too! If you’re not happy with yourself the way you are, if you want to lose weight, do it! Go for a run if you can, or find some other way to be active, eat healthy, and watch how treating your body right benefits your gorgeous body.
But please promise me that you won’t eat less or hurt yourself. A body in motion needs nutrition to survive. It just needs the right stuff. The good stuff, like lean proteins and salads.

Please, promise me that you’re gonna be good to yourself. If I could’ve told myself the things I’m telling you know, I would’ve spared myself months of hell. Today I’m healthy and happy. I look nothing like the girls in the picture. I’m a little wider, because that’s my bonestructure, but I look fucking gorgeous because I work out. I bike. I do crunches and I eat right. 

Be healthy and happy! The two ingredients to being beautiful!"

I might have been a little emotional when I wrote that, but my points remain.

It's OK to not be satisfied with the way you look. If you're overweight, if you're too thin, it's totally OK to want to change.
The "beauty at any size" phenomenon that is going on right now, is not gonna change how you feel. Not being satisfied with your looks is a matter of being happy with what you see when you look in the mirror, and being told time and time again that what you're feeling when looking at yourself is wrong, is not gonna change that discomfort. That's why it hasn't really had any effect- the people who suffer from dissatisfaction with themselves, do not agree.

What I think is able to erase the pain, though, is being good to yourself. 

What will make you feel better, is the understanding that everybody's body is different, but has the ability to look beautiful, when you've done all that you can to shape it up and polish it!
As an extra treat, the beauty that your body carries will be unique, because no two bodies look the same. You might find that you have beautiful legs, a nice waist or gorgeous curves!

It will be a magical experience, figuring out what brings out the best in you, when what you've got to work with, is in perfect shape, just like it was meant to be!

(I want to point out, as a footnote, that if you're overweight or thin and happy, it's none of my business. Rock it and live your life to the fullest!)

onsdag den 2. april 2014

The Flaws of Facebook and Bringing Back the 00's!

This post calls for a little bit of a backstory.
This weekend, I was on the way home for a small party that mainly consisted of my friends from my old Lolita circle. It had been a while and we had a good time. The next day, I was on the way home, and during the train ride I and a friend, who had joined me for some of it, got talking about the status of the Lolita community, both global and here in Denmark. It is obvious that everything has moved to Facebook. We do not know if this is just the case of the US and the danish Lolita community, but I suspect that this is pretty much a global thing. I know you may be having a bit of a deja vu, as I spoke about something like this in this post a while ago, but please stay with me here.

We discovered, that while the community has moved on to Facebook to become more "private" and a little more meet-up focused, the community has also lost some of the "involvement" that it once had.
(This might just be a case of "Back when I was a newbie, the grass was a lot greener..")

Even if Facebook has made communication a lot easier, quicker and moved the community into the "everydaysphere" of the members so you can get constant updates from your Lolita pals, alongside pictures from your cousins birthday, communication between Lolitas has become a lot more scarce.
I suspect is has to do with lazyness. You don't really engage, if you don't have to make a conscious effort to do so.

Facebook has taken away the spirited discussion of Lolita, and I suspect, killed a little bit of the magic that I felt when I first started out. If you don't share how you feel in Lolita, exchange views on new releases or the funny little situations you get into, or have gravely serious discussions about the "Rules" vs. "Guidelines", the 'science' of Lolita dies out. And of course I use the word 'science' with a loving, satirical tone. Of course Lolita is not 'seriouz businezz' in the big scheme of things, but isn't it to us, just a little bit, because we're passionate about it?
I think social activity and sharing help keep that passion alive, and that's what I've been missing.

I may be contradicting myself a little bit. I'm a big advocate for the "personal Lolita lifestyle", which many of my longtime readers already know. Lolita is something deeply personal to a lot of people, and that's how it should be. The important point in Lolita fashion is how you feel and see yourself, but this does not have to be disconnected from the social aspect of the fashion.
Engaging in conversations about Lolita can fuel your fire, make you consider new aspects of the fashion that you have not known before, and rekindle your love for corners of the fashion that you had forgotten all about.
Drama is what kills it.

Either I'm becoming a nostalgic Old Schooler trying to bring back the good ol' days, or I've pinpointed an actual flaw in the new community system. I guess I'm gonna find out, for I've decided to start up a Forum for my local communities. It feels like I've brought back the 00's.
People are even making old fashioned "Introduction Posts"!

I'm not saying we should shut down the Facebook communities. They're great for arranging meet-ups, making quick, fun updates and sharing videos. But they're horrible for conversation, and even worse for long, well-thought out posting.

So, how do you feel about this topic? Is Facebook a step up from the old platforms?
Should we bring back the old communities?

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