For many people, lolita is more than just a fashion. It’s a community of people. People who are a little quirky, and a little kooky, who you fit in with. For some people, it’s the first group they have ever felt like they belonged in. For other’s, it’s just one of many. And for some it’s a group they feel they don’t fit into, sadly.
Whenever you have a group like that, you end up with a certain group dynamic; everyone wants to belong, to fit in. So, as humans, we modify our behavior to fit the expectations of the group. We wait in line when we check out at the grocery store. We wear our petticoats under our skirts instead of over them. We don’t walk around hitting random people with fish.
Sometimes, however, people do things that don’t fit inside of what the group, or we as individuals feel is acceptable. We then have a few options, we can ignore the behavior, we can shun the person, or we can challenge the behavior.
In most cases, it is easiest to ignore the behavior, especially when ignoring it can result in something beneficial to ourselves. For example, if someone makes a racist comment, but is going to give away $100 to every friend they have the next day, some people would ignore the comment in favor of getting the $100. It would be a personal sacrifice for someone to challenge that behavior.
Almost everyday in lolita fashion communities there areas where people have these moral choices. Be it negative comments about someone being made on sites like Behind the Bows and /cgl/, or inappropriate comments on rufflechat or EGL, or things going on in local communities.
The hardest cases are when someone who is in a position of power, who commands a certain amount of respect because of their position does things which doesn’t align with one’s personal moral beliefs.
Nine months ago, John and Denice Leigh were appointed managers for the Japan Lolita Association, despite not really being members of the lolita community.
Four months ago, Buttcape blogged about her experiences with Anime Matsuri, which included insight into the inappropriate behavior of the owners and manipulation of her local community by members of AM management.
A few days after that, Chokelate, owner of Lockshop wigs blogged about her mistreatment at Anime Matsuri as well.
A petition was started, asking that the JLA revoke John and Denice’s honorary titles. It garnered over 3,450 signatures. It was translated into Japanese and sent to most major Japanese lolita brands.
The JLA made a statement saying they would investigate Anime Matsuri. It is unclear if they ever did. No formal changes were made.
Three days later, Shironuri artist Minori tweeted that she would not work with Anime Matsuri again.
The next day, John Leigh stepped down from his position with the JLA, but his wife remained in hers.
Two weeks ago, Cadney resigned her position with the JLA.
Two days ago, Anime Matsuri announced their guest line up.
- Angelic Pretty
- Victorian Maiden
- Atelier Boz
- Triple Fortune
I like a lot of those brands, and it would be wonderful to see them all in one place. However, I think back to girlyhoot’s post that mentions that one of Angelic Pretty’s designers was crying backstage last year. I think about the fact that multiple people I respect have had rude, lewd comments made to them. I think about the fact that the JLA has become a marketing machine for Anime Matsuri, that they have taken control of the USA’s JLA Ambassador selection process and turned them into figure heads that they can puppet about and control. They have taken a position designed to unite the lolita communities around the world and corrupted it thoroughly.
I can not in good conscience support any group or organization that has so little regard for the lolita community. It is an insult of the highest order that Anime Matsuri not only believes that they can appropriate our fashion’s ambassador group, but that they can do it while mistreating members of our community. That they believes that having John complete a 2 hour, $45 course that basically goes over “how to report sexual harassment to your manager when you work in retail” makes amends for not just sexually harassing multiple women he was supposed to have a business relationship with, but writing blatant, slut-shaming lies about them in retaliation. John and Denice Leigh are everything that JLA Ambassadors should not be.
They are hurting our community.
And they need to go.