Written by Angry_Chick as part of the Black Diamonds and Pearls series. Normal BW posting resume in Oct.

My high school years were particularly difficult ones for me. I had just changed from school to school in a period of about 8 years, and I had never stayed in one place – some of it due to social promotion (changing schools but remaining in the same district), but others due to moving. High school was not only that difficult little period when school intrigue reaches its zenith, but if you are different in any way, be it for the positive or negative, you are ostracized.

I had been educated through very good school systems, though (unsurprisingly) they were in mixed White-Asian areas where many of my classmates were very upper-crust. There were a couple of years when some of my districts may not have been as good as others, but the one commonality was that they were majority White. It was through this time in these majority White districts where I became exposed to Japanese Animation and other subcultures such as goth, punk and the early days of ‘emo’. I was introduced to the worlds of conventions and gaming, worlds of Final Fantasy and Dragon Ball Z. My interests in such increased many times more by the time I reached high school.

During my Freshman year, I really became strongly engrossed in the interests of punk and such. At this time, I was at a majority Black school district, though it was, at the time, considered to be one of the better school districts in Southern Cook County. Even though it was majority-Black, there still existed a strong mix of classes, cultures, races and nationalities, which made being there a pretty good time. I also learned so much more there from different students that were way older and cooler than me.

It was when I transferred to another district that the hard times really came. The school district was 90% Black, and while the students tended to be wealthier, they were far more critical of anything different or unlike them. I became the only person that tended towards alt-cultures and fashions in my grade, and even when I wasn’t dressed too much differently than everyone else, my clothing would always bear a strong vintage flavor – Victorian, Edwardian, Jazz Age and Depression Era. Classic films and interesting forms of music was a part of my interests, and old-fashioned deportment, manners and wording peppered my interactions with others. Rather than saying “Whaddup”, it was always, “How do you do?” it was strange, to be sure, but it was me – and me being myself opened me up to a lot of criticism and hatred. Of course, the world for me was a lonely one. While I tended to hang around punks and rockers and such, I was still in a league of my own, and it was through the few anime fans that existed at my school that I learned about the Lolita subculture.

I immediately fell in love.

While I loved the idea of elegance, the one thing that I found a bit much for me was the shortness of the skirts. This is not to say that Lolita skirts/dresses are short – for they are not – but rather I found a lot of it not to my liking. I needed close to full-blown Victorian/Edwardian. Thusly, I came across Gothic Aristocrat as I enhanced my searches. I had finally found myself – the long skirts, cravats, corsetry and such, but ultimately, the elegance and refinement that I so craved.

I decided to go for it.

So, my final year of school, there were a few occasions where I would don Gothic Aristocrat. I was already used to the stares and huge heaping helpings of reproach that was my life with my fellow students. Of course, the sell-out comments flowed like failed floodgates. I didn’t fit in with the others, and to them, it seemed to be clearly that I disdained my own race. These were the same people that defined Blackness in the narrow box that had been set up for them by our society. I saw fit to defy that and it meant quite a bit of problems during those days where I wore EGA. With that said, however, the more that I wore it, and with the more combinations that I wore it with, a few minds were gradually being changed and others did become a bit more accepting of it, even if not entirely.

My college years meant me wearing EGA slightly more, as well as being able to be more active in the J-Fashion and anime-related subcultures. I had a job, I could make my own schedule and rules, and ultimately, I was on my own. I was much more active in the EGL Livejournal communities and spent more time preoccupied with the fashion and culture. I even attended Anime Central 2008 for the first time. One of the things that I noticed when I was involved in the EGL fashion was the relative tolerance of Lolitas towards those of other racial groups. Granted, there was a slight issue with size, but in general, I felt that to be a bridge that was, in time, easily crossed. While there were a few Lolitas that exhibited the worst that our society has to offer, in general, I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the openness of the Lolita fashion and culture in comparison to many other similar subcultures. The biggest problem that I had with the fashion, however, was the bitchiness. Still, such was to be expected in a fandom full of women where fashion was the focus and where massive amounts of money were spent.

With anything that makes its way to the West, there exists a certain degree of Whitewashing. While Lolita, as a fashion, has its basis in Rococo, Victorian and even 1950s imagery (which tends to be overwhelmingly White), it still has adherents that are more than just White and Asian. At the time, not much time was paid to Lolitas of color, and thusly, I created the Lalolitas community. The reason for the name escapes me – probably because I was a stupid girl in high school that couldn’t think of anything else, and I’ve just refused to change the name – not that it’d do a damn bit of good now. Of course, it is a community where we can share our stories, makeup tips and other such things that we wouldn’t see in the greater LJ Lolita communities. It started slowly but has since gained momentum.

In time, my love for the Lolita subculture began to run its course, and my life began to change. College became more of a priority for me and the eternal question of “How am I going to pay this bill” weighed far more heavily on my mind, and thusly, many of my EGA clothes were sold. I would check EGL and Livejournal less and less until I rarely check Lolita-related communities at all anymore. While I am now working a job where I am able to once again afford EGA clothing, I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, but even so, it will never be to the point that it once was at. Still, if I were to return back to the fashion and subculture, and even with the new set of people around, I feel like I would still be accepted with open arms, just like when I was that young junior in high school.

A. (Yes, that is seriously how she goes by) is a 24 year old hermit from Illinois. Getting her BA in Psychology and Pre-Law studies from Bumfuck IL University hadn’t been much of an exercise, however, finding a decent job in her field has been. She has a random multitude of interests, including Ballet, Nightwish, Some Animes, Sleeping and her boyfriend of 4 years. She’s the mess responsible for unleashing the LaLolitas LJ on the world.