Never before has the phrase WTF! popped to mind so readily as yesterday. I was in town with H, as I couldn’t be arsed making lunch again, and took us both instead to Max, Sweden’s premier burger joint (really, it’s very, very good). And on the way through town I started to notice something odd: the Gothic Lolita chicks. It was like a convention had come to town – they were fucking everywhere!
Gothic Lolita, for those of you who are just totally out of the loop, is a sort of prettified Goth, with wings and frilly bits and, for some reason, babies pacifiers which you suck on. It’s all twee and fine in a sort of “those wacky Japanese” sort of way, but when the Swedish fourteen-year-olds start taking it seriously and swanning about town like Emo kiddies with wings and lollipops, then it starts to enter the realms of just-very-fucking-odd-indeed.
This all started, as far as I can make out, a few weeks ago, when there was a major newspaper article about the phenomenon coinciding with the release of a new photo book called “Gothic and Lolita” containing photographs from the streets of Tokyo. And now suddenly the Lolitas have appeared, like frilly pink mushrooms sprouting from the tarmac.
Now I am all in favour of the kids trying to piss off their parents by acting weird, and alternative lifestyles have always appealed to me, so no problems there. But come on, how much creativity does it take to get your “alternative lifestyle” right out of a box? One day you are a Goth, or a hairy rocker, or a regular prissy teen, and the next you are hanging out in toy shops taking pictures of yourself surrounded by teddy bears with a look of coy anguish. Just how does THAT work?
It is actually a problem in Sweden, this sharp division of styles. Swedish people are very, very similar in what they wear. The average teenager looks pretty much identical to the next average teenager. Oh, they can go in for some “alternative” look, but then they just end up looking exactly like a few thousand other people instead. Actual individual style is very much frowned upon over here – most people just don’t like to stand out in the “wrong” way.
And something that makes this even worse is the complete lack of self-distance. The Swedes take their own particular style or social grouping very seriously, no matter how ridiculous it looks, and the person who can laugh at their own “style” is rare indeed. In fact it is extremely easy to spot young tourists in Stockholm, even without hearing them speak. They are the ones who look comfortable with themselves, have a style of their own, even if it’s a bit odd, and do not readily fit in with any particular “look”. I’m sure the Swedes hate them.
But don’t worry, once H&M takes over the rest if the world, you’re all going to look like us too, whether you like it or not. Heh heh heh…