Bodyline and Rape Culture in Lolita Fashion

First of all, in case it’s not obvious in the title, this post will talk about sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape, though it will generally be in the abstract and non-explicit.

Most lolita are familiar with Bodyline, and many are familiar with Mr. Yan, the owner of bodyline who is on a quest to acquire more waifus.

If you google “Mr. Yan” you get memes like this:

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A selection of YouTube Videos like “Leave Mr. Yan Alone!“, a video of a lolita teaching him to Tango when he was touring the world, and multiple unboxings of his Body pillow.

And of course there is the infamous body pillow, which sold out and was recently re-released:

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And as I mentioned above, he did a world tour where young women met with him while dressed up in lolita and flirted with him and joked around about him.

Recently, at rufflecon there was a panel called “Mr. Yan’s Next Top Waifu (18+)” where someone wore a Mr. Yan costume and held a fake wife contest. I didn’t attend, but the line was quite long. 

Before I go any farther, I want to say that this is simply an explorational piece and I am not calling attention to the people who used these memes, own these body pillows, made these videos, hosted or attended these panels in an attempt to condemn or shame them. Instead, I’d like to take an abstract look at the meme of “Mr. Yan” inside the lolita community. I encourage readers to draw their own conclusions and determine on their own how they feel about these things.

That said, let’s look into the history of the Meme of Mr. Yan. For starters, the first exposure the western lolita community really had to Mr. Yan was through cheesy images and videos used by the Bodyline site to promote sales. Most people who viewed these images and videos found them funny, and thought very little of it at the time. Though there were already mentions of him being a bit of a creep.

It wasn’t until later that it came out that the Mr. Yan so furious sale, which involved him breaking a mirror on camera because he was so mad, lined up with a model contest winner refusing to marry him, and Bodyline trying to force her to pay them back for her free trip because she wouldn’t marry the owner. Looking at this in the abstract, the contest was borderline human trafficking. Had the girl not had the money to pay her way out of it, she could have been trapped in Japan. This was back in 2009. There were also some rumors of Model Contest Winner Nadia (Yes, the love Nadia print is named after her) being hit on as well, and even back then there was chatter about Mr. Yan being a creep. In 2010 a Facebook fan club was set up. In 2012, Yoshiko left bodyline and had issues getting bodyline to mail her back her things. And in 2013, there was the whole thing with Venus which may or may not be exaggerated / staged; it’s hard to tell as her mother was pushing her as a reality entertainment personality. I don’t want to make light of her situation or imply that it’s ok to question accusations of harassment, but I also am not sure how credible her accounts are, given that we know her mother is not a credible source. In 2014, there was the sexy Mr. Yan body pillow which has it’s own fan page, and was literally made because over 100 people pre-ordered it after people asked Bodyline to make it.

Ok, so now we have set the scene a bit. Mr. Yan is a middle aged man who owns bodyline, he’s a pervert who likes to try to touch young women without permission, asks them to go to love hotels and/or marry him, and it’s funny.

It’s funny.

Right?

Funny.

Except, it’s kind of not funny.

So what is Rape Culture? “Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.” [x]

It’s been a bit of a buzz word in the news lately in the US, but at it’s core, I think it’s an interesting, and valuable sociological concept to look at. In this particular case we have unwanted male attention being given to young women who are models. So they are coming into a job, where the payment is a trip to Japan, and the company owner is sexually harassing them, and if they refuse his advances, he’s violent. That’s quite a scary situation for most young women.

When we make a joke out of it, and laugh about it happening, this normalizes that behavior. It says to other people “I care more about this joke being funny, than I do about the fact that a young woman being hurt in real life was the punch line”. And that’s a dangerous slope. Because, if and when he has another contest for a model, and if we jokingly called it a waifu contest, and young women who are fairly new to lolita enter because to them it’s always been an abstract joke, and one of them gets hurt… what do we tell her then. Is it still funny? Is it still a joke? And is it respectful to those girls in the past who have been mistreated by Mr. Yan to joke about their sexual harassment?

If someone else comes into the community and flirts and jokes, and touches young women inappropriately, are we going to write it off as ok? What if they are cosplaying Mr. Yan, does it become ok?

The last batch of pillow cases were $21 each, and they made at least 100 of them. The new batch is $3.33. Let’s assume that at least $10 of the $21 was profit. That means Mr. Yan made at least $1,000 USD off of selling himself as someone who sexually harasses young women.

Is that something we as a community should laugh about, should joke about, should encourage?

Just… think about it.

…and as always feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Lolita Blog Carnival : My Favorite Indie Brand(s)

This weeks lolita blog carnival topic is “Your favorite Indie Brand”, but I’m going to be honest here; I know so many indie artist that I really can’t just pick one, so I’m going to feature a handful of my favorite indie brands (and this is not at all an exhaustive list!) and what I like about each one. Ready? Ok, let’s go!

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Belladonna

Belladonna is owned by my significant other, Michelle, and her best friend Rachel. Michelle does the print designs and dyes the lace, and they both do dress designing, sewing, etc. I help them out sometimes with convention booths, stock photography, etc.

Best points: Their wrist cuffs are made nicer than the brand ones I’ve bought. The bows look really nice, the elastic is cased and the lace is soft. I’m more likely to wear a bunch of deco bracelets than wristcuffs personally, but when I do wear wristcuffs, I go for belladonna ones. I’ve been disappointed with every brand pair I’ve bought since I got my first pair from them. Their custom print dresses have great themes as well, and they make a point to offer colorways that work for a variety of people. They are sticklers when it comes to lace and material quality as well (I’ve watched Michelle take a fabric sample and try to destroy it to test if a fabric is going to hold up well to wear, including trying to tempt our cats into scratching it).

Black Friday Specials: Free shipping for the first 15 orders + discounts on a bunch of items

Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

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Sweet Mildred

Sweet Mildred is another local designer, and she’s probably the indie brand that I have purchased the most from over the years; mostly headdresses, and the occasional piece of Jewelry. I have a whole book shelf that is just headdresses I’ve bought from her, and it’s full now so they are spilling onto other shelves and any place safe I can tuck them.

Best points: Her headpieces are wonderful, and she makes things that will match pretty much anything from sweet to classic to Gothic. They are versatile, well made and make quite an impact. Her accessories often include delightfully quirky things (I’m in love with these angry conversational heart rings I got from her that say things like “not sorry”), that make great conversational or statement pieces for any coordinate. She also makes a lot of dresses in all sorts of interesting fabric prints. If you want something to make a coordinate pop, or you want a piece with a lot of visual interest, check out Sweet Mildred.

Small Business Saturday Specials: 30% off all items + lucky packs

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Haenuli Haenuli Haenuli

Haenuli

Haenuli is a brand from Korea. They primarily produce custom print garments, though they also make some accessories (usually to coordinate with a specific piece). The main designer who goes by the nickname NuNu also draws a really cute slice of life as a designer comic strip which is posted to their facebook page.

Best points: Haenuli’s dresses often come in a lot of colors, and they offer a lot of sizing options. They also offer print tights in multiple sizes. The pieces I own and have handles are really solidly constructed, and the material choices are good. Their prints are intricate and interesting, and even when the motifs are popular motifs, the overall look and tone of the artwork is unique. They also have a lot of creative and interesting dress designs.

Black Friday Specials: 10% discount with code: HNL10persale 

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Moss Marchen Moss Marchen Moss Marchen

Moss Marchen

Moss Marchen is another local brand. The designer Martha creates accessories which trend towards gothic lolita and mori styles.

Best points: Moss Marchen has really great ribbon embroidery pieces, which are surprisingly cheap considering the time commitment required for making them.  The long-style necklaces she makes are also very nice and visually well balanced. The designer has a good eye and a skilled hand. They are made of good materials, and very reasonable in price for the high level of quality. As a bonus, her floral corsages are really nice and a great alternative to buying a corsage from a major Japanese brand like Pink House where they will cost you significantly more if you can even find one.

Unfortunately, this brand frequently sells out and is often not available for sale online. At the time of writing, the online shop is currently closed. It’s best to try to catch Moss Marchen at an event.

Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Peppermint Fox Peppermint Fox Peppermint Fox

Peppermint Fox

Peppermint Fox is based out of Australia and is a team of two. Their brand trends towards otome style, and features lots of beautiful water-color-styled artwork. If you were a fan of beatrix potter as a child (or even now) you are sure to find Peppermint Fox delightful.

Best points: Their tiny companion series of pins. Each pin features an animal illustration, and each one has a name and a short back story. The stories are touching, and the expressions and clothing choices of each little animal backs up their story and personality. They make great gifts too, because you can easily match up a person you know with a sweet little personality.

Black Friday Specials: N/A, but there is a general sale going on at the moment.

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I Do Declare I Do Declare I Do Declare

I Do Declare

I Do Declare is a US based brand run by designer Kelsey. While most lolita has a strong Victorian influence, I Do Declare goes back farther in time and draws influence from the European middle ages, and older.

Best points: Technical sewing craftsmanship and detail work. The pieces made by the designer directly have intricate, high level technical details like lace inserts, traditional applique, bead work, etc. In the image spread above the white lace is a close up of a lace and bead work insert the designer put inside of the back of a white gown that gave the illusion of being able to see the wearer’s spine. The manufactured garments produced from her work also have a high level of technical detail, which show off the designer’s skill and vision. It’s a pleasure to look at her work, and the quality is absolutely stellar.

Black Friday Specials: Pre-orders for the wool witch hat shown above open at 8:00PM EST.

Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

voodooodolly VooDooDolly VooDoooDolly

VooDoooDolly

VooDoooDolly sells mostly jewelry and hats. The designer Mallory sculpts, molds and hand casts her jewelry, going as far as to use vintage metal sources in some of the pieces to add additional meaning. While fashion in general is an art-form, I would argue that many of her pieces are really more of tiny pieces of wearable sculpture. If you wear Gothic Lolita, and you don’t own some of her work, you are really missing out. I don’t know how to put it into words properly, but looking at her work feeds a starving part of the soul that longs to live lost in an art gallery full of masterworks. It eats at me that I can’t do her work justice, because it is so beautiful.

Best points:  The hand cast jewelry and elaborate hats. The jewelry which is interesting and powerful is really, really high quality and a steal at the prices she sells it for. Her hats are all unique, elaborate and detailed.

Black Friday Specials: I don’t know of any, but she doesn’t need one; she’s already selling things terribly cheap for what you are actually getting.

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545430_945698161629_573562109_nOther blogs participating in this theme:
Art du noirCupcake Kamisama’s Lolita World

Lolita 45 Questions, A Decade Late

This is a questionnaire that was passed around on EGL back in the summer of 2005, 10.5 years ago. You can see the original post here: LOLITA 50 QUESTION, the answers, and an on-going community of answers that was last posted to in 2013.

I though it might be interesting to revive it and answer it a decade later.

  1. Please tell us your Hand Name (name that’s used ONLY in internet.) and hometown.
    “Handname” or “Handle” are both dated terms for “screen name” or username. In this case, my screen name is Raine Dragon (though I sometimes use rainedragon on systems that don’t permit spaces). I live in Maryland, USA. I would note that no-one should ever post their hometown / town they were born in on the internet as it’s often used as a password recovery question these days.
  1. About how long is your history as a Lolita?
    I’ve been a lolita since 2008/2009-ish, so ~ 7-ish years? I’m always bad at this.
  2. What first motivated you to do Lolita fashion?
    I became interested in lolita fashion through pixel art. I was asked to create some online paperdoll clothing for a website I was working with in the lolita style. I had a couple online friends who where lolita as well.
  1. After knowing Lolita fashion, have you had any time-gap or resistance till you actually started to be Lolita?
    Yes. I saw advertisements for lolita and kamekazi girls in manga magazines for a few years before I became interested in the style myself.
  1. Please define your Lolita style as much as possible. (eg. gothic Lolita, sweet Lolita, white Lolita…. Etc).
    Ok, so the options here are Gothic, Sweet or Shiro (white). I wear sweet and classic, personally. With a little bit of punk and decololi.
  1. About how many Lolita friends do you have?
    Back in the day, I’m sure these were manageable numbers! In fact, the few answers I looked at from 2005 were all lone lolita, or only had one or two lolita friends. I can’t imagine what they would have thought about how many lolita there are today. I can safely say I have dozens of lolita friends around the world, and my local community has a few hundred lolita in it!
  1. What is the best thing about doing Lolita?
    I so want to edit this question to “wearing”. But anyways, this ties back to the previous question; I love how many amazing people I’ve met through lolita.
  1. Conversely, what’s the worst thing?
    Probably the drama / hate. I don’t like it when people are mean to each other.
  1. Which Lolita Brands do you like?
    Angelic Pretty and Innocent World are my favorite two.
  1. What was the first Lolita item that you’ve owned?
    My first lolita items were from bodyline. Their bunny pockets set in sax, and a sax candy print skirt.
    Bodyline Candy Skirt Bodyline Bunny Set
  1. What is the “must have!” Lolita item?
    A good petticoat. Everything else is really felixible, but a good petticoat can make or break things, IMHO.
  1. Do you wear drawers?
    She means bloomers, and yes I do.
  1. Do you have any favorite Japanese music?
    Lolita fashion used to be more tightly interwoven with other aspects of Japanese pop culture than I think it is today, especially the music scene. I don’t really listen to much Japanese music.
  1. Where do you particularly visit as Lolita?
    I wear lolita to conventions, and meetups. Outside of that, sometimes I wear lolita around the house, shopping, or to restaurants.
  1. About how many times per week do you dress as Lolita?
    Less than once a week ;___;
  1. Please tell us about one embarrassing episode from the time when you were
    just beginning Lolita.
    The worst thing I can think of is that I almost bought from Milanoo.
  1. What’s hairstyle and color that you think Lolita would suite the most?
    Ouch. This question is brutal, and would never be written like this today! It would instead ask “what is your favorite hair style to wear with lolita”. That said, I’ll bite. I think the ideal hair style and color for lolita is… whatever looks best on the lolita wearing it! (I can’t do it! I can’t say “Hime cut is the only way” or “You must be blonde and curly”! XD) Longer hair with some wave or curls and natural colors are my personal preferences though.
  1. Have you ever thought of stopping Lolita? The reason?
    Yes. It’s expensive and sometimes I think about it and try to decide if I should just sell everything and invest the money or something that is a little more responsible. I don’t know. I can afford it, but at the same time, sometimes I get nervous about things.
  1. Please tell us your heart’s bible as a Lolita. (anything like a book, magazine, CD, idol…)
    The book “A Little Princess”. I try to conduct myself like Sarah, with a heart open to wonder, and kindness in the face of adversity.
  1. Do you own a doll? Tell us your feelings about her intensely!
    I INTENSELY DO NOT OWN A DOLL. I do have little cats. THEY ARE INTENSELY CUTE
    Mia 2014-11-21_12.52.57

 

  1. What kind of make-up do you wear when you wear Lolita clothes?
    I’m really bad at make up. I tend to wear office lady make up + more blush + more eyelashes with some glitter sometimes.
  1. Have you ever secretly changed clothes in a train station bathroom on Lolita day-out?
    No, no I have not. XD I have changed in the office bathroom after work though.
  1. Are you composed when doing Lolita all by yourself?
    Wearing lolita by myself in public doesn’t typically bother me. I only feel uncomfortable when people are actively being rude or disruptive to me.
  1. How much do you spend in your Lolita clothes & accessories monthly?
    I probably spent, on average, $200 per month, last year. However, I also sold a bunch of things.
  1. What is the most expensive Lolita thing you’ve bought so far? How much was it?
    Angelic Pretty’s Star Night Theater Bare JSK in Blue. It was new with tags, and had the choker and hip bows included. It cost me about ~$750 USDap_2009_jsk_starnighttheaterbare_color
  1. So far about how much has the expense been for Lolita goods?
    I really don’t want to think about it. I could probably buy a car.
  1. Lolita outfit really costs money. How do you raise money to cover the cost of
    Lolita?
    I have a job. I am a grownup. It is sad.
  1. Have you ever bought from an online store? If so, please tell us its good
    and bad points and some advice for the future. If not, please tell us why not.
    This question is so dated! XD Yes, I’ve bought from lots of online stores, it’s quite common now days. I buy from AP, IW, Putumayo, Baby, Meta, Closet Child, Kera Shop, F.i.n.t. and others
  1. Even if you sort of want to keep it a secret, please clandestinely tell us
    about a private manufacturer that is the best.
    Hmmm, I guess my “best kept secrets” would be Wistcuffs from Belladonna, underskirts from Little Dipper, and headdresses from Sweet Mildred.
  1. Is there a brand and/or an item that you think, “I could never get it! But I unreasonably want it!”?
    Le Premire Cri De Prophet from JetJ. It won’t fit me, so I’d have to have it majorly altered and it’s worth so much / so expensive that I can’t justify it.
  1. What do you think about people who only do Lolita at music-lives or cosplay?
    Oh, wow, this is really dated too. So it’s kinda a “what do you think about lolita who only wear it at conventions” type of question. Only, back in the day, like I said above, lolita was tied more to the music scene than it is today (at least it’s not so tightly tied in the west anymore), so this question made more sense.That said, personally, I don’t think poorly of people who only wear lolita at conventions. I think there is certainly a “type” of person who cosplays as a lolita at conventions, and they tend to have a bag costume type lolita dress, which they wear as a costume. I probably would just ignore that sort of person. They aren’t “real” lolita, and they typically don’t really care about wearing the fashion as a fashion.Lolita who are actual lolita and only wear it at conventions I’m not going to judge either because being a grown up can be time consuming. XD
  1. From what age to what age is it acceptable to do Lolita? Do you think that there’s a state in which someone must graduate from Lolita? (you can answer as ‘never graduate’)
    Graduating is a term used by Japanese idols in girls music groups when they are too old to continue in their position. They “graduate” and another girl takes their place. It’s used outside of girl-bands too, really it’s just a term for “retiring”.

    That said, I do not think there are any age restrictions on lolita. Wear it at any age you would like!
  1. Is there a Lolita fashion or behavior that you think “I don’t want Lolitas to do this!” about?
    Yes. It makes me sad when lolita support groups like Anime Matsuri which take advantage of lolita. It makes me sad when lolita support replica makers. It makes me sad when lolita are rude to strangers, especially children and old people who are curious but not being rude to the lolita. It also makes me sad when lolita are cruel to each other purposefully.
  2. Is there something you think “Lolita has to be this way!” about?
    Absolutely no pants! In all seriousness, no, not really. You need to get enough of the basics correct for it to be “lolita”, but there is always room for bending the rules on any one point or another
  1. While doing Lolita, has something changed from earlier than you did Lolita?
    I think this is supposed to say “Has the way you wear lolita changed over the years?”. In which case, I can say yes. I don’t wear twin tails, and I wear a lot more boleros.
  1. Do you go to school/work as Lolita?
    Only on Halloween.
  1. Do you wear Lolita clothes as casual wear?
    Sometimes. Getting dressed up is a lot of work!
  1. Do you have a boyfriend (or husband)? Do you understand each other? (I think she meant “Does he understand you (as lolita)?”)
    I’m dating another lolita. It makes life easy. 😛
  1. What do the people around you think of your doing Lolita? Do they accept it?
    My grandmother enjoys it, and one of my coworkers does as well. Everyone else seems to either tolerate it or have no real opinion (or they don’t know).
  1. What kind of Lolita is who has impressed you the most up until now?
    I have so many lolita idols. *w* I love Caro-chan’s blog, as a lolita blogger!
  1. Have you ever made your own Lolita clothing or/and accessories? If so, what was the best item that you’ve made?
    I’ve made rosettes, rings, crowns, headbands and other small accessories. I think my favorite was my black clock hand and rose crown.

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  1. If you have an ideal Lolita outfit or coordination, please tell us.
    I don’t, really. I like seeing the diversity and creativity in lolita, so I don’t really have one set idea of what the best coordinate would be.
  1. Is there a motif that you think “this is a symbol of Lolita”?
    Crowns and royal crests, I think, remind me of lolita the most these days. Though those twirling marshmallow candies are really iconic to lolita too!
  1. Would you want to dress your children as Lolita?
    I don’t intend to ever have children. I have kittens, and I have put clothing on them, but they seem to prefer sweaters to dresses and/or hats.
  1. What’s your image of the ideal Lolita?
    That’s hard, probably something like this?
    iw