Thursday, May 9, 2013
On Girl Hate, Jealous Relationships, and Frills
Femmes are people who see another feminine person and purposefully ignore the culturally prescribed girl hate and learn to say, ”God, you are beautiful and I want to be your friend,” rather than, “She’s so much prettier than me, I hate her.” My femme friendships are a mutual celebration of our brilliance, beauty, strength, power, heart and soul. Ultimately feminist, we heal through loving each other in a world that teaches us to mistrust each other.
--Melissa Heckman, Body Image: I'm a Femme
I'm going to take a moment to discuss just a small part of Melissa Heckman's beautiful essay, which you should read in full for its discussion of sexuality, gender variance, and body image. She mentions the "culturally prescribed girl hate," this idea that we as women are supposed to treat people we think are feminine or pretty like the enemy. I think this is something that we have to take into consideration in the lolita community.
I'll use my own life as an example.
I have a non-lolita friend who has taken her body insecurities out on me. She has policed my wardrobe, telling me that I should wear sweats when we hang out so she "doesn't feel so inferior." She has spent long hours telling me how I shouldn't seek to improve my outfits or enjoy my wardrobe because of how my physical appearance makes her feel.
On the other side of that same coin, this same friend insists on picking out which details of my outfit she does not agree with. Every time I break a fashion "rule," she mentions it. Every time something else might look better, she mentions it. There is a clear tone of superiority to such statements, as if I was not well-educated enough to have heard of such rules. She takes her moments of superiority wherever she can grasp them.
This only got worse when I started dressing in frills.
Suddenly I was not only someone who she thought was cute. I was someone who threatened her because I had found clothing that flattered me and that I enjoyed. I was suddenly more feminine and more confident and actively doing something to make myself that way. My beloved creative outlet was her nightmare.
Eventually, I did snap at her for this, of course, but in hindsight I cannot say it's a surprise that it happened.
This sort of negativity and "girl hate" is something we are encouraged to do as women in our society, this petty pursuit of superiority at any cost. We are encouraged to compete with each other until upon seeing a girl we think is cute or well-dressed we are supposed to be jealous and think mean, hateful thoughts. I think that this is particularly a danger that we face when we take up a hobby that is, by its very nature, about appearance. When we become the canvas for our own creativity, a vessel for the hyper-feminine, girl hate kicks in. Whether this is coming from someone outside the community like my friend or from fellow lolitas does not matter.
What matters is that it shouldn't happen.
I will admit that I have had my moments of girl hate, and it is very difficult to remove the cultural influences telling me to dislike other women, but I do actively try to get past them. I've learned in my life the importance of looking at someone else who I admire and guiding my thoughts toward "Teach me your ways!" The way I see it, we can all learn from the cute people around us.
I think that we should all take our cue from Melissa Heckman and her femme friendships. We should learn to say "God, you are beautiful and I want to be your friend."