I was recently accepted into the Lolita Blog Carousel group, and I was super hyped to make my first post for the longest time, but let's be honest - AiDungeon, Twitch, and my new friends have entirely taken over my life! Well, this post is 4 days late but better late than never!
How Has Quarantine Affected How You Put Together Your Coords, With The Lack of Social Gatherings & Events?
I think I need to take a step back and evaluate how I used to put together my Lolita coordinates and gathering attendance first! I have to be honest and admit I didn't attend many events in the past two years or so, I was still slowly coming out of a mental and physical rut - I only started my weight loss adventure in October of 2018. At that time, I had a lot of Lolita items in my closet that either no longer fit me or were professionally altered to fit my plus-sized body. It really has taken me that whole year to slowly become more comfortable again with how I looked, and I'd point to the beginning of 2020 and say that it was just when I started feeling comfortable enough to begin wearing what I love again.
I took a long hard look at what items I had in my wardrobe and what I would want to re-alter down to fit me, what I'd let go - in regards to altered pieces and what I just really wanted to part with. I think I had one or two dresses altered back down in March (which I already regret since I'm still losing weight at a good pace, and I'm 100% sure that is already too big again...) anyway! I had just realized I fit into everything else that I owned again, and actually gone out to meet some friends! I just generally started wearing the fashion a lot more, going so far as to incorporate bits and pieces into my daily wear...
Then - March came around! I just bought my Angelic Pretty Cinema Doll dress and found myself trying it on and looking at myself in the mirror, debating whether I should be leaving the house that weekend to get some cute pictures. My husband suggested just try taking some photos at home instead! I thought it was a fantastic idea! Getting ready on your own time? No driving through LA traffic to get anywhere? No sun or wind or other obstacles that could ruin your makeup or hair? Great! I jumped right into it and had a blast! I think I spent like 3 hours on my bed, taking the first at-home photoset of me wearing Lolita fashion! I actually made a blog post back then: Cinema Doll Fun Time. It feels like a lifetime ago when I went to work on March 10th, and they told us that starting the next day, we would be on Work from Home mode until further notice - to due Covid-19. That was uh... kind of a shock to the system. We saw it coming around the corner with the rises in cases locally, but not THIS fast! Google was actually quick, and one of the first companies to send their workforce out of the offices, and I'm very grateful for that. Anyway, it's been about half a year since then... Ouff!
Now I need to stop my train of thought here and take a break to describe how my one and only Lolita Zoom meeting was a little... underwhelming? I mean, it was GREAT in regards to seeing everyone dressed up - that part made me SO happy! But with the way things are in Zoom, it's so hard to replicate the feeling of a real meet - where little groups of people form up. You take a few minutes there to chat with this girl, then you walk over to chat with the old acquaintance you haven't seen since ILD before you sit down with the chosen group of friends OR new acquaintances that happen to sit at the table while food or snacks are being served. After refreshments, you mingle again, maybe just with one person, catch up or browse some fresh merchandise from an Indie Brand that happens to sell their craft at the event. Finally, it'd be time for a group photo - make a tangible memory to keep on your phone or on a little polaroid picture.
But this Zoom Tea Party? It felt... stifled and too orderly. Everyone had to take turns to speak. If I remember correctly, there were 50 people from all over the world, and it took us over an HOUR to get through introductions alone. By the time we were done with that, I think most of us were wiped out mentally.
So, honestly, I felt a bit discouraged. Discouraged from putting in the effort: an hour of makeup, figuring out my whole outfit, setting up the light just right and cutely positioning my webcam, to sit at my crafting desk and trying to look pretty while staring into the webcam - doing absolutely nothing but attempt to listen to introductions as I mentally mull over what I'm going to say when it's my turn - only to stumble over my words and get embarrassed by my own shyness when it actually IS my turn. By the time the introductions were over, many had dropped out, and regular chatting was still done in turns. I didn't want to interrupt anyone, so any witty commentary or regular comments remained in my head while my anxiety took the form of a berating voice in my head. I looked on in silent distress as strangers that knew another chatted away before everyone else also slowly trickled out of that Zoom call. I think I said MAYBE 5 sentences during the whole thing...
Don't get me wrong. I was absolutely charmed by the adaptability of the Lolita Community to overcome COVID restrictions and still get together to partake in the fashion we all love! I appreciated the hosts for organizing everything and everyone being super polite and welcoming!
It was still fun, but it wasn't... for me?
I felt a pang of regret. Like I wasted my time, maybe made a fool of myself to others when I spoke, probably looked dumb in my outfit. Sitting there, silently smiling and nodding along in my stupid, ridiculous princess room. Yeah, not going to do that again. At least not unless I figure out some of my insecurities and maybe find a smaller meet with people I know?
But... I don't think I've ever worn Lolita as actively as I'm doing right now!?
Although in ... its own way that is most likely frowned upon by the Lolita Fashion community. Oops?
No, really, though. I reached a point in June where I needed SOMETHING, ANYTHING to take my mind off the news (which my work exposes me to), COVID, being stuck at home, and feeling trapped. I was experiencing a general rapid mental decline. For the first time in about 2 years, I felt depression return and slowly but surely curling it's cold hands around my arms and trying to drag me down. Then one day, I was browsing the web and came across something interesting. A screenshot of a game in a video game thread about it was all text-based, but my interest was instantly piqued. I don't remember what the screenshot had on it, but I'm sure it was dark-humored in nature, and the accompanying text explained that it was all written by an AI... Yeah, that's how I found AiDungeon. I was sucked in, I CONSUMED the thread, and then I hopped onto the game myself. I opened aiduneon.io and subscribed to it before I even started playing. No way I was going to play without PINK text (that option is behind the paywall lol)!
So what do you do if you are bored and find yourself jumping into different fantasy worlds to explore and ... roleplay different characters?! Yeah - you imagine your own outfits. I quickly realized that I'd sit here describing some of the things I was wearing in detail. To the point of looking up the lolibrary listings and referencing the MATERIALS! Yeah, I'm weird like that. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with this game. I spent about 2 weeks playing nonstop and utterly immersing myself in it. I found myself sitting down and hitting up all of my friends. "Yo, you NEED to check this thing out. ITS WILD!" - no one really... responded though. I was looking all over my friendship circle, new and old: my coworkers (the ones who are screenwriters and fellow nerds) but nothing. No one... saw what I saw? So I hopped onto the AIDungeon Discord server. I lurked, there, I lurked the chan threads, and I lurked the general internet. How is it that this game and it's potential so hidden!? Then the more I played, the more I got inspired. I found myself doing creative writing, drawing my characters, and I felt... the itch to dress up.
Alright. Sure... dressing up... taking pictures... all fun! Then it sparked an idea - What if I dressed up and... played my new beloved game ... with others? No - not multiplayer, that always ends in confusion or unsavory things because the AI doesn't seem to have a good grasp in handling multiplayer yet. Other people do dumb shit whenever they can hide behind anonymity - also you don't see each other... no, I needed something better. Twitch.
Yeah... I uh... I decided to begin streaming. July 13th, at night, I decided to start to broadcast myself nerding out in multiple creative ways to whoever felt like dropping by. July 14th, I pulled out my first outfit to dress up as a character in my stories.
It's been 34 days since I started streaming daily, and I only took one day off last Saturday - only because I was overwhelmed by Otaquest Connect and would have died if I hadn't spent that night dancing to my favorite artists in my little chair in the living room.
I have never felt more encouraged to sit down and plan an outfit, makeup, and take pictures ever before.
The funniest part is that I'm not doing it to get stream views. I know my clothing barely even shows in the tiny window on my stream, and I'm completely covered up since Lolita is modest. No, I'm doing it because I am having a BLAST! Quarantine, in combination with finding pandora's box of creative energy in the form of an AI-based text game, has probably been the most FUN thing that has happened to me in years.
I spend my days working my 8-hour job then I run off to get ready. During my work hours, my mind wanders off thinking up new fantastical worlds or characters, or I get inspired by things I see or always wanted to dress up as!
I started simple, with a tricorne hat that I just happened to have gotten because a Lolita friend was gifting it away on Facebook. A blouse I already owned made a great Pirate (that was my second stream, and let's be fair. I had no experience in how to 'perform' on stream or with the AI in a live setting, but hey - it was a great learning experience anyway! The third stream I was invigorated to try a real outfit (not just a hat and a blouse and basic makeup), I pulled out a vintage dress and hat to roleplay as a Ghost, and before I started my stream I sat down to take pictures - decent pictures! I loved posing and making expressions, imagining the character I was going to be playing as! It was SO much fun! After I streamed, I sat down editing my pictures, and I knew then that I found something that is exercising a wide range of my creative talents & passions AND lets me go wild with my wardrobe! Oh, and let's not forget that I'm slowly but surely becoming more comfortable with speaking. I LOVE speaking. I missed it SO much from the beginning of quarantine up until July. There is something about expressing your thoughts, motivations, opinions, and dreams physically that I can't get from typing on a device. I like to use my hands and facial expressions when I speak, so much so that I know I'm making a stupid face, wrinkling my eyebrows as I sit here trying to put my feelings into words as I'm typing this.
So what have I been up to?
I've been countless people in countless worlds and situations, and I make sure to have the matching 'drip' every time I make my way into one of those worlds. I have upgraded my lighting, my streaming setup is continually evolving, I feel my makeup skills are improving, and I enjoy my photo editing! In the beginning, I wrote lengthy blog posts for every story, but after streaming daily, that fell off to the wayside. However, there are still 10 finished posts for each outfit (not all Lolita but most incorporate at least some pieces) I'm drawing and writing creatively daily. I have made new friends and reestablished old friendships. I have people ask me every day when and what I'm going to be doing today. It's ... amazing? I have found a way to take a little aspect of everything that makes me who I am and carefully weaved it into a blanket of pure bliss that I draw around my shoulders every day.
I've never felt better.
What am I planning to do from here on out? Well, I've accepted the fact that COVID is here to stay, I don't want to get into it, but I highly doubt that Americans are going to be cooperating even when there will be a vaccine in the future. We live in uncertain times, and I feel like we are all going to need to adapt to survive. Whether that survival is in the workplace or in your free time. I think I have found something that I'm happily immersing myself with as long as it will bring me joy. I am a fickle person, and I'm aware that, sooner than later, something else will come around that will sweep me off my feet and carry me in another direction. But until then? Well, I am consistently focusing on my mental and physical health, avoiding (well -trying to) things that make me upset and overcoming my eating disorders from the past - which leads me to a more pleasurable past-time! Looking for more Lolita Fashion items that I've always longed for! Now that I KNOW I can fit them and I have the disposable income to obtain them and MOST of all I have a FANTASTIC occasion to wear them - any day that I please, in the comfort of my own little haven, my stupid, ridiculous princess bedroom.
Now, like I said, I do think what I am doing is most likely frowned upon in the community. Lolita is not a costume, and I am not employing my Lolita pieces in a way that I'm just sitting in front of the camera without having an actual reason for wearing my pieces.
My best examples are Fantastic Dolly for a date at Disneyland (which I'm going to wear the first chance I get back to Disney). I wore three different cat-themed dresses: Kiss Me Cat, Le Chat Angelique, and Cat's Tea Party for a character literally in Japan and being carried off to shop at Angelic Pretty. I'm not just sitting here slapping my clothes on and tagging everything as #Lolita & #Cosplay on Instagram for attention and reach. I make sure to emphasize and explain about Lolita whenever I have the chance to my viewers, friends, and family. Finally, as I said, the outfit isn't a massive part of my stream, it's barely visible. The only times I really make sure to show off the fashion is for the photos I take to make memories that I'm going to cherish.
Memories of a time, I was stuck at home and still managed a way to explore new worlds and meet new people, and all that without ever stepping a foot outside my doorstep.
If you have the time please take a moment to read about the experiences of the other blogger participating in this Lolita Blog Carnival prompt: Paulina from Cupcakes and Unicorns has had a similar experience as me, and her post about it is absolutely wonderful. Consider following the Lolita Blog Carnival over on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lolitacarnival