On Being Beautiful

October 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Life, Lumpy | 4 Comments
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Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.
– Confucious

What is beauty?  This is a question humanity has strived to answer probably since the invention of language. All those silly ancient geniuses – they didn’t know what I know. For every person the definition of beauty is different – maybe beauty is making men want you, or being lovable or loved, or just being happy with yourself. What is beauty to you? Here’s my opinion-

Beauty lies not in the body but in the heart &soul. This beauty we express with our bodies, but we can only do that by tapping into the beauty in our soul. A lolita spends hours getting dressed, coiffing, making-up, and then stands in front of the mirror and smiles. This happiness that is welling up from inside her – this is her soul set free and expressed in her body.

By today’s standards, thinking like this probably makes me a “hippie.” I have no problem with that – there are worse fates, worse labels society could have inflicted me with. Some of you will not like what I’m saying because of that – many people are made uncomfortable by talk of the soul these days. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. I don’t live for them. It’s for those of you who are smiling right now, who are reading and nodding and smiling in agreement – it’s for you that I write (I speak, I document) for, not for those who are snickering and shaking their head in disbelief or even disgust.

Part of beauty, probably the most important part, is acceptance. Accept that your soul may not want you to look like other people’s (or that maybe somedays it does – some days it may beg you to leave petticoats forlorn and comfort it in sweats or jeans or Uggs). I think that lolitas have gotten past this hurdle simply by being lolitas, by accepting that they love a sweet, frilly fashion that much of the outside world finds ridiculous.

We’re used to not being accepted. We face it every day by the outside world – and occasionally in our own world, too. It is beautiful to accept that even the people you identify with may not understand or accept your beauty, whether these people are your family, your friends, or even our online lolita communities. It is beautiful to accept this with grace &dignity but to still express your beauty. However, it is important to respect yourself enough not to show this inner beauty to those who will not respect it. Sometimes it is more honorable to keep your beauty inside to protect it and yourself.

Beauty offends. Lolitas know this well. Offense is dangerous. While it is important that your body reflects your soul, protecting your mind &body are most important. An illustration of all these points would be the girl who posts to daily_lolita in a less than perfect outfit. She is trying to show the beauty in her soul, and she is calling that beauty lolita. It may not fit the rules we all follow, and many of us will tell her – not necessarily rudely (I’m not going to go into THAT here), but we will give her tips on how she can mold her internal aesthetic to fit this label more. She can choose to follow these rules or not – if she chooses to alter slightly her aesthetic and be approved of by the community (in which there is no fault), she will be accepted. If she does not, she doesn’t need to expose herself to the community anymore. It’s as simple as that – if you want to be accepted by certain people, cater to fit their ideas. If those ideas aren’t something that sit well with you for whatever reason, distance yourself from those people and continue living as you feel you should. In this case, our “ita” can either conform to the rules of lolita and continue posting without complaint, or she can continue to dress as she wants but keep it to herself &for herself &not post it anywhere.

Though it hurts my Taurus (by which I mean my internal aesthetic &also my sense of justice &what is right or wrong) to admit this, sometimes internal beauty must be stifled for the health of the mind &body – but we must ask, what is the point of a healthy body if the soul ails? Therefore I leave the final decision up to you, as it often is circumstantial. Will you honor your mind, body, or soul? Is there a way to honor all three? Or, really, is there a difference between them?

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  1. You see, I was agreeing with you until that second to last paragraph, and then I shook my head. I think what you suggest is a little… incorrect. Dangerous and isolating, even. To use a common cliche, it sounds like the thought process of a nerdy girl trying to fit in with the cheerleaders. Why does it have to be either mimicry or lonewolfing? Can’t a group of people have differing beliefs or styles and still get along? Can’t a group of people have enough respect for one another to look past the differences and simply accept them as an inevitability of life? If you take this strategy, not only would you inevitably be harmed (either by forcing yourself to conform or isolating yourself), but you miss out on the opportunity to meet so many interesting people; people who are probably different from you, but you can still get along with them, learn from them…

    For that matter, I find it wrong of you to suggest that a person need either follow the majority or disappear. That’s a very dangerous notion indeed. This suggests that nonconformity needs to be covered up, which… seems strange, concerning this is a very nonconformist fashion (or even lifestyle). Shouldn’t the community be building up its own, not making them feel unwelcome…? I’m thinking lolita get enough of that in the “real world”. Why spread it amongst the community as well…?

    • I understand where you’re coming from &I totally agree. However, what I meant to say is: for example, imagine your family dislikes lolita very strongly. A special event is coming up (a wedding, a holiday, some familial gathering), and you want to look nice. My point is, don’t wear full-out lolita, but also don’t just buy a dress you don’t like because it’s “acceptable.” Find ways to incorporate your aesthetic into the outfit you choose to wear, but don’t do so in a way as to offend your family. The same applies if lolita makes your friends at school uncomfortable. Basically all you can do in this situation is either comply or distance yourself from them – but my opinion is, if you value those relationships enough that you wouldn’t want to isolate yourself from them, you have to reinterpret your aesthetic into a way that doesn’t offend them. Don’t drop it entirely – the nerdy girl you mention would have to change herself completely to fit in with the cheerleaders, and that isn’t what I’m suggesting. However, there is a time and place for everything – if said nerdy girl WANTED to fit in with the cheerleaders she would (stereotypically) do well to discuss make-up and boys instead of quantum physics, but she could still study it in her free time or discuss it with other friends.

      I also didn’t mean to suggest these two extremes: in fact, I believe that both are incredibly unhealthy and I’m frustrated that anyone, lolita or not, is ever faced with being (to paraphrase a quote) loved for who they’re not or hated for who they are. My suggestion is to find something healthily in between. The abovementioned lolita shouldn’t give up her love of the fashion simply because her parents dislike it, but it would be disrespectful of her to subject them to it at times that are important for them – instead of wearing it to Christmas dinner or Cousin Jane’s wedding, she should wear it when she goes out with friends, shlepps around the house on the weekends, etc. I also mention the community because I hate seeing girls dressing in a way they love get shot down simply because it doesn’t fit our “rules”- however, the rules are important guidelines &we all support them strongly. If she doesn’t want to conform to our rules, I strongly urge her to continue dressing as her soul tells her, but not to post to egl or daily_lolita if she does. Either that, or she can start slowly incorporating the rules into her style, as long as it doesn’t compromise the image in her heart. That doesn’t mean disappearing – maybe from the online community if she so chooses, yes. But all of us forget that we all wear these clothes in real life, too, not just for photos to post on the internet (at least I hope not!). Not posting in an online comunity that won’t accept her isn’t disappearing, it’s self-preservation. Said girl needs to respect herself enough not to put herself in harm’s way by posting on these communities – and by “harm” I mean mental harm: bullying, harassment, etc. all could follow ignoring the constructive criticism in the communities, as we’ve all seen. But let me repeat that I could not support her more in wearing the clothes she wants to in everyday life – as long as, again, the time and place are appropriate.

      Does that make more sense? Thank you very much for your comment, I hope my response clears it up more for everyone!

  2. Thank you for this post! It makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only one who has this opinion about beauty. I often feel like I have to hide who I am to protect myself. I don’t dare wear lolita to college or outside that much because I know people will not understand it, and instead of respecting my choice in clothes, they will try to put me down because of them. It makes me very sad to not be able to wear lolita as much as I’d like to, but I know that if I don’t protect myself the harrassment might just erase all the progress I’ve made in gaining self-esteem and having confidence in myself. Being constantly shunned and laughed at will definetly not help me there.

    • I’m glad you agree! 🙂 That’s exactly the point I was trying to make- self-esteem is very fragile, &it deserves to be nurtured &respected, not put in danger that could be prevented.


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