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  • Wherein the Author Documents Her Experience as a Porcelain Doll
  • Lisa Blauersouth (bio)

It's five o'clock on a Saturday night and we're running late. I'm rushing around, only mostly dressed. My wife, Teri, pokes her head out of the bathroom and asks me if she should straighten her hair or spike it up. I shout, "I found it!" And she gives a cheer from our tiny bathroom. I quickly slip my errant petticoat under my floral, ruffled skirt, smoothing it down reflexively. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and grin: we're into a new subculture, and it's good fun.

My off-white knit socks are modestly pulled up over my knees and hidden underneath my bell-shaped, delicately patterned skirt. I pin a large cameo at my throat and smooth down the ruffles on the shirt. I grab my hair-bow and [End Page 312] little wrist gloves as Teri comes strutting out of the bathroom in her knickers, knee socks and a ruffled high collared shirt, all picked specifically to coordinate with my outfit. She waits impatiently for me to pin a similar cameo brooch on her. I think about my growing closet full of strange subculture clothing and decide that this may, in fact, be the oddest one yet. I grin at Teri; the inherent ridiculousness of what we're wearing makes me happy. As we head out the door to our tea party, I wonder, where did this come from?

The teahouse is full of older ladies in pairs and larger groups wearing big red hats, all talking animatedly. Our group comes in—thirteen women in their mid-20s all dressed up like Victorian dolls, complete with parasols and white gloves and elaborate hairstyles—and the tearoom hushes for a moment. Some wear cake-shaped hats; one has an adorable black bunny on her arm—it's her purse. We are told by other patrons that we look like the old porcelain dolls from their long-past childhoods, the ones their mothers never let them play with. They are amazed by these young women who have invaded their lonely lacy-linen-and-teacup ghetto, and they remark how nice it is that these youngsters are so polite and so beautifully dressed up. Their eyes glaze with memories as they gently touch our lace, coo at our dresses, and compliment our hats. They wonder where we came from, what "show" we're doing, and where we got our pretty clothes.

There are those who don't talk to us, but we catch the smiles and amused, sometimes confused looks from the waitstaff and other customers in the teahouse as they talk about us in quiet tones. We ignore those sidelong looks, secure in the knowledge that we look like we belong here among the Victorian floral wallpaper and delicate mismatched china.

To those who ask, we explain that we're not in costume; that this is a type of fashion, a subculture. That yes, some of us wear these sorts of

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Figure 1.

Under a parasol, the author and her partner at Minnehaha Falls, Minnesota, 2009. Photograph by Drayke Larson,

[End Page 313]

clothes every day. The little old ladies inevitably ask what this fashion is called: "Lolita," we say. "This is Lolita."

They are polite but puzzled, and there is a momentary pause while they silently wonder if this is some sort of sexual fetish. In Japan, where the fashion originated, Nabokov's book Lolita is less known, less of a problem. In the West, the book's pedophilic associations haunt our community.

One of the blogs I follow had an anecdote from one of the contributors. She wore one of her Lolita outfits to school and was called down to the office. The principal had a problem with her outfit; he thought that it was "some kind of fetish wear." The Lolita in question pointed out that she had less skin showing than any of her female classmates. (She was covered, from the top of her high-necked dress over a petticoat and bloomers, to her knit...


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