Fetish Clothing for the Preschool Set: Made Of Ick

Many thanks to Baroquestar for this guest post, while I’m in the throes of domestic relocation. Baroquestar is a 28 year old singing, studying, Australian museum geek who likes to make trouble in her spare time. She is a solo mama to one beautiful daughter, who doesn’t even know the word “princess”. ~ Lauredhel


If the concept of people dressing up as fetishised children disturbs you, how about adults dressing children to look like adults who dress up like children? Are you following me? No? OK, here we go.

1. Lolita, a book by Vladimir Nabokov. About, amongst other things, a fairly revolting and unsympathetic main character who fetishises girl-children.

2. Gothic Lolita or EGL or any number of related names, is a fashion based on looking as childlike as possible. Whilst the majority of Lolita wearers chiefly strive to look as doll-like and Victorian as possible (which, as an aside, I find odd* – deliberately infantilising, objectifying and disenfranchising yourself? Still, there are everyday fashion trends that do it too, in more subtle ways), a subset known as “erololi” highlights the fetishised, sexualised aspects of the fashion.

3. And then there’s this.

Check out the keywords in the title. It’s a size 5/6. OK, not only does the concept of Lolita clothing for ACTUAL CHILDREN creep me the fuck out, but there’s the implication that people would actually search for or be attracted to clothing for their kids using the keyword “lolita”.

EEEW. [does the ick dance***]

4. And whilst we’re here, this sort of thing treads close to the line of ew for me too, and I can’t quite define it:


I know I’ve attempted to deconstruct this one on my own journal sometime in the past year, but I still haven’t worked it out. Possibly my discomfort lies in the association corsets have for me with university choral events and goth-clubbing, where it’s very definitely an adult, deliberately sexy, “check out the girls” look.


* No, I have no particular beef with GothLoli. Whatever. NOT my bag, but whatever. And the schoolgirl costumes? EW, but again, WOPDITOBINOMB**.

** What Other People Do In Their Own Bedrooms Is None Of My Beeswax.



Categories: gender & feminism


2 replies

  1. Well as far as the Gothic Lolita thing goes, I’m a member of some EGL communities (particularly on Livejournal) and it is a constant source of aggravation to the majority of people into the fashion that “Lolita” is included in the title. There’s always someone asking why the hell people would dub it something with such negative connotations and the general response is that in Japan (where Lolita comes from) the word Lolita just doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in English speaking cultures. Some say that the book has never been translated into Japanese and most people in Japan don’t know anything about it. I don’t really know how true that is and couldn’t find out in less than 30 seconds (I have a short attention span).
    The average age in the community I read seems to be about 14-15, although I’m sure the fact it’s on LJ has something to do with that. Lolita fashion is known for being about dressing like children, but except for the ero variety is the opposite of what most consider erotic/slutty. No short skirts, tank tops, bra straps showing, etc.

  2. The use of the word Lolita is problematic to us, but I think its largely a weirdness from cross-cultural translation back and forth – I don’t think use of the Lolita term to describe anything associated with Japanese Lolita fashion is really indicative of anything bad, even when its talking about childrens clothing, even though to those of us who still strongly associate the name with the book its creepy.
    So, ultimately, it seems like the source of most of the ick here is nothing to do with the clothing or the fashion trend itself, but cultural crossed wires over terminology. After all – Lolita as a fashion term really means ‘based on Victorian childrens clothes’, with the various variants like GothLoli, erololi, Wa Loli, etc all mixing that basic theme with something else – and when you think about it, actual childrens clothes based on Victorian childrens clothes is really somewhat less ick than adult clothing based on Victorian childrens clothes.
    So I find link 3 is eccentric, but not really ick. Dressing your child like that all the time would be weird, but as a special occasion outfit is it problematic at all?
    Though the last link, number 4 – yeah, ick. Corsetry for me definitely falls into the sexualised clothing area, including the open back. Wrongness.

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