Hi, I'm Gabi!
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I’m Gabriella Marie; A 22-year-old office worker in the day who happens to be a j-fashion enthusiast off the clock! I’m a Sagittarius, I was born in the year of the rabbit, and I believe I’m an INFJ. Though I’ve been in and out of blogging in the past, I just started this version of Dear Gabriella Marie in November of 2021 and am so excited to be here!
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Lolita-Tok And The Amazon Dress

Hey friends! 

I hope you're all having an excellent December so far. By the time that this post is up on the blog, I sincerely hope this isn't so relevant - and if you've read the title of this blog you already know what I'm about to ramble about. 

That is - TikTok. Let me preface this by saying that I, like most people my age, spend more time on TikTok than I'd ever like to admit. As a result, I follow a lot of fellow lolitas on there. It's so cool to be able to see lolitas express themselves on another video based platform like Youtube but in shorter segments, without the pressure that Instagram tends to provide. Overall, I love TikTok and what it has provided the lolita community with! It's even got the added benefit that there are so many youths today discovering this fashion on TikTok just like we did through platforms such as Youtube or LiveJournal. 

With that said...
There is a slight problem. See, on TikTok I've noticed that there seems to be a culture of the super-fast adoption of trends, especially as they relate to fashion. We've seen it with the massive surge in popularity of 'cottagecore', and I distinctly remember when it looked like a majority of TikTok adopted 'alt' fashion and 'e-girl' as similar trends. I've seen the explosion of popularity and with each one of these, a waterfall of related content for about a month or two before it quickly dwindles down to an incredibly small trickle of content. It's a cycle that I'm sure people more qualified than me could better explain feeds into fast fashion. 

Until about a month or two ago, I've been pleased to report that we've had only a minor few run-ins with lolita fashion landing on the wrong side of TikTok. The only instance I can remember from before then was a video that circulated a few months ago of couple of girls in replica dresses from Amazon, following none of our beloved lolita guidelines, having fun among themselves. It wasn't a very accurate depiction of lolita fashion, sure, but I found the education to be kind and generally inoffensive on all sides. At the end of the day it was a couple of teenagers experimenting with fashion and I think we all left it at that. 

Regrettably, I can't say that is the case anymore. Circling back to the trend-based lens I've seen a lot of TikTok view fashion through, it was only a matter of time before it collided with lolita fashion. In a lot of ways, I'd argue that our fashion is the antithesis of fast fashion. We tend to (but not always) spend a lot of money on our main pieces, wait months for those pieces to arrive, and then spend months after curating every detail of our outfit, sourcing pieces from China, Japan, Russia, and more. Coordinates are planned meticulously for many people, down to the shade of white we use for our socks. Lolita fashion, for all of the amazing things that it is, is not nearly as accessible as walking down to Forever 21 and putting an outfit together. It's beautiful, it's fulling to wear and look at, but it is also a painful portrait of waiting. 

So, I introduce a scenario. Royalcore enthusiast and TikTok user Katie (for lack of wanting to use a real example here) stumbles upon a lolita's video on TikTok. In it, the lolita is wearing Metamorphose's 3-Tier Frill JSK in Pink. Stunning! Katie likes the post and comments in a frenzy. "This is so cute! Where can I buy that dress?" She cannot wait to wear it in a Royalcore look. The lolita responds kindly, indicating the dress was released by a brand from Japan in 2020 and it is no longer on their website. However, she notes, this girl might have some luck on LaceMarket finding something similar. 

Katie heads on over to LaceMarket, slightly disappointed to find that it is not a dress that can be purchased at a brick and mortar store. She finds no version of that dress after looking through 3 pages. She tries to register for an account but finds the experience clunky and is not in the mood to wait for administrator approval into this vetted website. 

Irritated, she seeks advice from a friend who directs her to Amazon where she finds the "perfect" dress! It's pink and has white lace details just like the one in the video. Best part? It's only $40! 

She receives it in the mail and posts about it on TikTok, but is disturbed to find that the reception of this post is not great. Lolitas have found the video, and they are quick to point out that this dress is a 'replica', 'not good quality', and that the way she wore this dress was 'not lolita'. 

They suggest taobao for 'next time'. They tell her she might want to do some research. They direct her to a few Facebook groups that are helpful. 

Katie visits taobao, finds the website is in Chinese, and closes out of the webpage. She only flips through the first page of google to 'research' lolita fashion, where she is met with ads for Milanoo and eBay. Katie goes to join the Facebook groups but finds that the application questions are just too much of a hassle and it's 'not worth the effort'. She chooses to instead go on these lolita's TikTok pages and comment on all of their videos spouting off accusations of 'classism', 'bitchiness', and 'elitism'. 

Had Katie put effort into research, exercised some patience in waiting for approval to these Facebook Groups and Lacemarket, or even asked more questions, she would have found herself in an exciting fashion community full of supportive individuals. Instead, she has manufactured a narrative in her mind that lolitas are just mean girls who hate everyone who can't afford Angelic Pretty. 

This has been the constant state of affairs on TikTok for lolitas, and this isn't just one instance - this is a near daily occurrence. Our biggest concern used to be convincing people that we have nothing to do with the Nabokov novel, but it seems now like we have to constantly make ourselves available to the whims of any person who likes our dresses and wants one of their own. Guiding them, helping them shop, helping them sign up for websites, begging them to purchase a blouse or cardigan with their dress, and explaining that yes you do need a petticoat to make the dress fluffy. No, it's not optional. 

Petty comments have escalated to physical threats now, and it just seems like no matter how much we try to be helpful we are only fanning the flames. I've seen lolitas on TikTok respond to comments until they're practically blue in the face to explain that we aren't saying they can't have cheap dresses, only that this one cheap dress is a replica and stealing art is bad. I've seen lolitas provide literal links to cheaper, higher-quality dresses that remain unpurchased. 

I can't help but wonder, where does the fault really lie? Some could say it's the fact that the first page of Google's "lolita fashion" results shows scam websites. Some could say that it's the difficulty (using that word very loosely here) that people have signing up for lacemarket or nagivating taobao. Some could say it's the emphasis on owning Japanese brand versus indie brands. Some might say it's all of the above. 

At the end of the day, though, I am inclined to believe that the problem isn't any of that. We've been a functioning community in the west since the early 2000's, and the Japanese community has existed even longer than that. Back when LiveJournal was the only big lolita fashion resource we had, buying brand straight from Japanese retailers was like the Olympics. It was difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. With that said, Western lolitas made it work. They worked together to find solutions, oftentimes sewing their own jumperskirts or asking their aunt's best friend in Japan if they could have lolita packages delivered there until they were able to come visit the USA again.

Comparatively, in 2021 we have an almost incomprehensible amount of resources available to newcomers, way more than ever before.  There's no reason for anybody with access to the internet to act helpless and wounded over lolita fashion when they are being spoon-fed instructions on how to participate in our community. It is not our responsibility to babysit or act as the lolita tourist information booth for passers-by. We especially do not have to justify our existence, ideals, or finances to strangers on the internet who are just looking for someone to verbally abuse. 

Curiosity is normal and we all started off with lolita fashion by being curious onlookers. It's normal for people to ask questions and even want to participate, or for them to feel intimidated and need some gentle guidance. What isn't normal is the willful ignorance I watch every single day within the comments of TikTok posts of lolitas. What isn't normal is watching women get called classist, elitist bitches every day for just existing on the internet in a dress that takes a little elbow grease to find. 

By all means, if you find joy in making content for beginners, guiding newbies along their journey, and providing them with helpful tips and resources, go for it! I love helping others discover the things that I fell in love with. But when things get bitter and you can feel the conversation start to turn, just remember:

If they wanted to, they would.