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Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092



Originating in Japan, Lolita is a consumer lifestyle fashion unrelated to the Vladimir Nabokov novel. The concepts that inform Japanese words like kawaii (cuteness), shōjo (young girl) and otome (maidenhood) are complex and varied. These keywords are explored through interviews with Japanese women from their teens to mid-40s who wear or have worn Lolita fashion. Participants in this study were asked to define and discuss these concepts and their responses provide an example of how women outside the age range of young girlhood build an identity and a space removed from social and familial obligations through a fashion movement that cultivates a specific vision of cuteness. By surrounding and adorning themselves with the things they adore, Lolitas assert their individuality and personality through a kawaii revolution. Otome and shōjo are the backbone concepts that drive this personal sense of kawaii, while its incarnation as Lolita provides a site for a lived practice and performance in which happiness is built through feelings, affects and states of becoming.


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