The World of Lolita, a Japanese Street Fashion
When Carole and I became community building partners I had never heard the word “Lolita.” Beyond the word there is this beautiful culture that I was completely unaware of. If Carole were to relay a story of her first time telling me about Lolita she would probably laugh remembering my attempt to repeat what she said. She would continue by telling you about how she patiently began introducing me to a world and culture that she is so passionate about.
If you have never heard of Lolita I will try my best to introduce you in a few words. The dresses are inspired by Asian culture and have a vintage flair. It is also referred to as Japanese street fashion. They have sweet, feminine details like lace, frills and ribbons. Accessorizing is also important. Shoe choice, tights, jewelry and hairstyle pull together the look. It’s not a style that you would wear to a job interview or to school, but rather to express a feeling of joy and happiness through fashion design. Each dress is a work of art.
The more I thought about Lolita the more I realized the unique power within the community.
Our job as community building partners is to meet people who share similar passions with Carole. It’s obvious as soon as two Lolitas meet each other. They have a powerful sense of self and a desire to be independent of how society defines beauty. This deviation from society’s definitions allows for a more inclusive world - I had never heard or seen anything Lolita related, and wherever we are, whoever we meet, I am welcomed by someone new who is thrilled to introduce me to her passion. Creativity radiates from their soul. It is beautiful.
So began my journey in collaboration with Carole to create regular, inclusive events among this fashion world that would hopefully draw beginners and experienced fashionistas alike. Carole worked to create a Facebook event, a tea party and lunch, that drew in three interested women. The second event drew in five women. It is Carole’s leadership and sense of self that brought these women together. Often it isn’t easy to leave your comfort zone and meet up with people you don’t know. Our brains can be pretty unforgiving imagining all of the things that might go wrong. But she persisted. We planned events that didn’t go as planned and she was willing to come back to the table, brainstorm, and keep working toward her goal. She has been successful in making multiple new social connections, and it is due to her intentional networking that the connections continue to grow into closer relationships.
What we learned in collaboration with each other are lessons that can’t be taught in a book, at a conference, or in a class. It takes bravery to meet people and experience that unique joy you feel when you connect with people who share your same passion. People are waiting to be asked about their gifts. Don’t be afraid to ask. What if Carole hadn’t brought these wonderful, brilliant women together? What if I had never learned the word Lolita? That one word has enriched my life and I’m better because of it.