Lolita at 40. The charismatic model who is still active talks about the “age barrier” and the “Lolita way”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Lolita at 40. The charismatic model who is still active talks about the “age barrier” and the “Lolita way”.

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She says that a less human “doll” image is the ideal form of Lolita.

Misako Aoki, who just turned 40 in June, is an active Lolita model and registered nurse who debuted as a reader model at age 17 and became a charismatic Lolita model while working as a registered nurse at a university hospital. In 2009, she was appointed as a “pop culture ambassador (kawaii ambassador)” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and has been active overseas as well, winning support from fans all over the world. Her book “Straight Lolita Road” (Kobunsha), which describes the path she has taken in pursuit of her “love” to date, has become a topic of conversation. Aoki, who is still active as a model and influencer, talks about why she continues to be a Lolita even at the age of 40.

Aoki says, “When people think of Lolita, they tend to think of it as cosplay. When we walk around dressed like this, 90% of people say, ‘Oh, it’s cosplay.

Lolita is a genre of fashion, Aoki says. It is a fashion that originated on the streets in the 1980s and is based on the glamorous dresses of 16th- to 19th-century Europe, arranged with a Japanese girlish taste, and is clearly a clothing culture that originated in Japan.

The word ‘kawaii’ has become a universal word, and is perceived overseas as equal to Lolita. Most Japanese people think that Lolita is a foreign culture from France or other countries, but they don’t know that it is a Japanese culture, which is another frustrating point. However, many people overseas understand that it is a Japanese culture and enjoy the fashion, so the situation is reversed.

Most Japanese people probably know very little about Lolita. As we talked with them, we learned that they have their own unique standards of beauty, which is very interesting.

In general fashion magazines, models often walk expressively and dash around in dynamic poses, but in our industry, there is no such thing. The ideal of Lolita is to approach a doll (doll). I believe that the best of Lolita fashion comes out when it is expressed without a human touch, so that is the kind of posing and facial expressions I have been trying to achieve. It is my policy to position myself as a 2.5D model.

Posing is mostly standing on a stick or, at most, unfurling her skirt, without aggressive movements. Her facial expressions are as expressionless as those of a doll. Lolita fashion does not suit models who are too skinny, so they are not as concerned about maintaining their figure as regular models. A childlike face is preferable. The goal is not to be beautiful or sexy, but to be “kawaii. So what is the most attractive thing about Lolita?

Lolita is a “battle uniform” that protects you and helps you fight.

I think everyone has the desire to be a princess even as an adult, and I think the appeal of Lolita is that it is a fashion that makes that desire come true and gives you a crush. It’s like being reborn. By dressing glamorously, you can have confidence in yourself. Also, Lolita is a fashion that hides the body rather than showing it. For example, it is a fashion that hides complexes such as a protruding belly or rough skin. I find it attractive because it gives me an absolute sense of security that I am protected, like a battle suit.

Aoki first encountered Lolita when she was 17 years old. Aoki first encountered Lolita when she was 17, when Lolita fashion itself had not yet been established, and she wore it for the first time as a reader model for the magazine KERA. The moment she put it on, Aoki was “blown away,” but Lolita clothing, which cost more than 100,000 yen for a full-body outfit, was out of reach for Aoki, who was in high school at the time.

I started wearing them in my private life after I qualified as a nurse at age 20 and was finally able to earn my own salary,” she said. At that time, I didn’t think of modeling as a career. I thought I would make a living as a nurse. Lolita was more like a hobby, something I just liked to do.

The turning point came when she was 25 years old. When she was appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a “pop culture ambassador (kawaii ambassador)” and began working overseas, she learned that “Lolita,” a culture that originated in Japan, was enthusiastically supported overseas. He began to question the prejudice against Lolita in Japan, even though it was accepted overseas, and he began to feel the “weight” of carrying the Lolita industry on his shoulders.

I was shocked to see how much Lolita fashion was recognized overseas. In Japan, there was a lot of prejudice against Lolita, where it was mistaken for cosplay, or people would look at you as a slightly strange girl or a weird person. But overseas, there is almost no prejudice against Lolita. When I go abroad, I really feel that Japanese are a race that likes to be categorized. For example, age, gender, marital status, and so on. There is a tendency to categorize everything and discriminate against those who are out of the box.

In Japan, Lolita is considered to be something that young girls wear because it is outwardly feminine. When adults wear it, they are looked at strangely. They tease, “Are you from Korinsei? or drunks would get involved with me in a vulgar way. I understand that I stand out, but sometimes I feel really uncomfortable.

But I continued to wear it because it made me feel like a different person when I wore it, and it was my battle uniform. I also felt frustrated because Lolita fashion is very good, but I wondered why it was looked down upon in Japan.

How can we improve the public image of Lolita, even if only a little? Through trial and error, Aoki actively responded to media interviews as an icon representing the industry. However, Aoki says that at that time, she was still caught up in a certain “barrier.

For Lolita enthusiasts, the age issue is a “barrier” that hits everyone

There was a time when I hid my age. There was a time when I broke down because I was slammed for my age on the Internet as a “Lolita hag,” and my friends would say, “You’re in your 30s and you dress like that? My friends said to me, ‘You’re in your 30s and you dress like that. I was especially conflicted after I turned 30, thinking, ‘I’ll stop when I turn 35. I wondered if I would get spots or wrinkles, or if I wouldn’t be able to wear it if it didn’t suit me anymore. I think many people who wear Lolita have the same problems. For myself, I just couldn’t get rid of the categorization that ‘Lolita is something young girls wear.

Aoki, who at one point in her career did not disclose her age, changed her mind after revealing her actual age in the documentary program “Seven Rules” when she was 34. She had some hesitation in doing so, but the public’s reaction was more positive than she had expected.

There were many people who said, ‘I wanted to wear Lolita forever, but I couldn’t,’ and ‘Now that Misako has revealed her age, I can dress cute forever. That gave me a lot of courage. After that, I decided to reveal my age more and more. Maybe I just thought, “Oh, I didn’t realize how old I really was!

Aoki continues to work to make Lolita fashion more accessible, such as by collaborating with Shimamura, and he hopes to help enrich the lives of not only Lolitas but also many other people by allowing them to freely enjoy fashion.

Lolita is just one of my suggestions, but I don’t want everyone to be Lolita. I think there are many people who are not able to enjoy their lives due to age or peer pressure. I hope that people like me can see that there are others who live the way I do, and that they can live their lives more richly and freely.

I myself am still conflicted, but I am getting to the point where I am willing to go as far as I can. I don’t know how old I will be, but for now, I would like to wear Lolita when I go into the coffin.

I try to create an image that the viewer can imagine what I would look like if I wore it.
She also says that the bangs, which completely hide her eyebrows, are to make her look less expressive.
She once tried to get married, but “Lolita” was not in demand at all.
The collaboration with Shimamura was a big seller, and “I was surprised at how many Lolitas there were,” she says.
Since the age of 20, she has also continued her work as a nurse. When her work as a Lolita model plummeted due to the COVID-19 crisis, it was her nursing work that provided her with emotional support (photo from “Straight Lolita Road”).
  • PHOTO Shinji Hamasaki

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