Saturday, 9 April 2011

Lolita vs. the Rock 'n' Roll Chick World

by hćtr on Flickr

We live in a world where alternative can become mainstream as quick as winking and nothing seems to surprise people these days. So why is Lolita still so shocking?

I was reading an article the other day about the modern ‘rebellious girl’. That is, the girl who acts against society, who isn’t afraid to get drunk on a weekend night, who smokes and maybe even dabbles in drugs. You can see it everywhere: the Taylor Momsen attitude, photoshoots in nothing but panties—just see how popular the ‘one unnaturally dyed streak’ look is!

Its point? The Rock ‘n’ Roll Chick is, the article said, no longer outrageous. Far from it: it’s practically expected of this generation’s young women. Having gone to an all-girls’ school and college, where gossip was the food of the social network, this struck a chord with me. There seems to be almost a kind of exhibitionism in a young woman getting so drunk that she does things that, when she is later told about them, have her cringing into her hands and laughing helplessly at her antics. It’s like a show: who can smoke first? Who can tell the most tales about their sex lives?

There is, of course, nothing particularly wrong with this in my book. Indeed, I think it shows just how the times have changed; what is absolutely normal these days would have been absolutely shocking fifty, thirty, even twenty years ago. But on the other hand, it had me considering just where Lolita fits into this modern world. Why is it so shocking? Could it be, quite simply, just because it doesn’t conform one bit to our society’s good-girl-bad-girl dichotomy?

Alright, maybe that was rather trite. After all, you could say that the whole point of Lolita is that it doesn’t conform. But then again, you could wear a jumper on your legs and tape bananas to your head and that wouldn’t be conforming either: non-conformity isn’t that hard to manage.

What makes Lolita so special? Personally, I think that the reason why is far from just being stand-out because Lolita, well, stands out. I think that maybe the reason that it’s so shocking in a nothing-shocks-us world is because Lolitas look like bad girls— simply by not looking like bad girls at all. It’s a cryptic mixture of modesty and brashness, stand-out, extreme aesthetics combined with old-world sweetness. It’s the maiden of the past, twisted into something new and in a context where she’s so out of place that she becomes a singularity.

It’s so simple and yet so subversive, to take femininity to a level at which it almost doesn’t come across as feminine. Demure? Quiet? Hardly. Seeing the familiar in a way that makes it unfamiliar is always a little unsettling, and I think that could be what makes Lolita so special in western society.

Maybe we’re the new bad girls after all? What do you think?


  1. Good point. For some reason reserved Lolita is seen as out there, while the rebellious rocker look is becoming more and more part of the mainstream. Kinda backwards but true xD

  2. It seems strange, no, Arieru? I supposed it may well just be what people are used to-- after all if Lolita was as common as 'regular teen rebellion' then I'm sure it wouldn't be so odd to others. I still think it's quite ironic, though!