Saturday, July 21, 2012

Confessions of a cosplay Hipster: What is Cosplay and what is Lolita?

I've been recently bothered by a few folks to write about the difference between lolita and cosplay from what I see locally. I know that I'm attracting alot of Butthurt folks, wank, white knights and other shit but I honestly don't give a damn :/ So lemme try to elaborate the differences and maybe enlighten a few of you who think that Lolita and Cosplay are the same thing...


Is it? Not really, I just feel like talking about it..

First of all...Lolita is INSPIRED by certain period clothing but it is solely a modern style born out of our generation and no one elses' though it may take snips and ideas from several time periods (rococo, victorian, etc.) it has nothing to do with them at the same time since, again, it is solely INSPIRED not a complete facsimile as it should if it were a COSTUME. Cosplay on the other hand is a portmanteau of COSTUME and ROLEPLAY, hence "Cosplay" the main point is the portrayal of a character from any fandom which includes the accurate facsimile of the character's costume, personality, mannerisms and appearance.

As a lolita and a cosplayer I've experienced discrimination from both sides of the coin and I've always stood my ground in terms of my beliefs as to what should differentiate one from the other. There IS an extremely defined line as to what is cosplay and what is lolita but in terms of the local community here in the Philippines the misconceptions are so widespread that there are rampant terminologies and beliefs that make newbies of both cosplay and lolita believe that LOLITA IS A GENRE OF COSPLAY. So this blog entry is mostly my personal take as to what the differences are.

Yes loli-party cat... I'm getting there!!!!

Firstly, Lolita is a unique style for each individual who is into the fashion. Even if you wear the same prints or the same style no one is quite the same because we put in unique touches of our own. With cosplay it's ACCURACY OR NOTHING. You cannot modify large parts of a character's design to suit your tastes. WHY? Because that would deviate from the character's design and that is a definite no-no in cosplay.

My Alice from American Mcgee's Alice cosplay. As a cosplayer I respect CANON designs and try to be as accurate as possible when portraying her. I cannot simply change things to express my individuality when in cosplay.

Lolita is not an act, there is no need to modify your behavior. You don't need to embody the "Sweet & innocent" perception most have in terms of what a lolita should be. I've met my fair share of bitches, sweethearts, psychos, plastics, true friends, geeks, tomboys, etc in the lolita community which to me just proves that lolita isn't a cosplay costume. It's a statement of individuality. With cosplay it's very different. You have to embody, modify your behavior and personify your character and if you can't then you're just some sorry loser in a costume, hence the PLAY part which stands for ROLEPLAY. 

Me and my friend Jaja from our Pirate Royalty shoot being the silly girls that were are.

Lolita is not as mainstream in the Philippines as Cosplay, hence its misconception as a genre of cosplay. This is something I personally see, not as a problem but rather an opportunity to cure the misconception while it is young. This is why The Philippine Gothic and Lolita Group group was made in the first place, to spread the truth about what lolita is, a lifestyle and not a costume. It is also good that some of our members have the opportunity to speak out on local tv, magazines and websites because it's a way of spreading the word out. Cosplay is mainstream in the local scene but it is still as misconceived as Lolita. Why? because it is seen as a career path to stardom rather than a hobby, nuff said before I get too draggy on this.

Well known cosplayer Myrtle Gail wearing my friend Jaja's lolita attire.
Myrtle isn't just a cosplayer but a fellow  enthusiast of Japanese fashion.

Lolita can be worn on a daily basis, cosplay costumes cannot. It is only a matter of *Tim Gunn voice* "MAKING IT WORK", convenience and comfort for each individual. Some of us choose to wear it daily and some of us do not but that doesn't make those clothes cosplay costumes. On a personal level I cannot wear lolita on a daily basis because I'm an art major who works with materials that would damage and stain my lolita clothes, hence I choose to wear plains-clothes, it would be silly to insist on wearing lolita to me because I would be inefficient in my work if I did, the same way others do the same. We wear our dresses on special occasions, days we feel we can show our individuality and meets instead, that doesn't make it a costume the same way one would only wear a toga to graduation ceremonies, it is never referred to as "MY GRADUATION COSTUME" because if is special occasion wear and can only be worn on those occasions. 
I admire girls who wear lolita on a daily basis

There are Lolita characters in cosplay but there are no cosplay characters in lolita. Case and point Miwako from ParaKiss, A majority of CLAMP designed characters, Rozen Maiden characters, Misa Amane of DEATHNOTE the list goes on... But you can never see a lolita say that they are a character, because they are their own individual person. You may see "Harry Potter inspired" or "Capitol Couture inspired" or anything fandom related BUT THE BOTTOMLINE REMAINS, they are their own individual selves, not a character.

My friend Yuu cosplaying Misa Amane, who is mostly seen in gothic lolita attire in both the manga and anime

Lolita is expensive like cosplay but the difference is, we see our clothes as an investment in a good wardrobe like any woman would see a good pair of heels as an investment for her daily footwear or for occasions it can be deemed acceptable wear. For cosplayers it is seen as a showcase of their skill, a way of giving homage to their characters and as a hobby.
The lovely Ami in her Angelic Pretty dress .3. She's also a cosplayer BTW!!!

And that's where it really boils down with Cosplay and Lolita... Cosplay is a HOBBY not a LIFESTYLE OR FASHION as opposed to Lolita which is to some a way of life. Cosplay to me is an escape from the daily grind and a chance to live out one's fantasies and a way of bringing to life one of your favorite characters.

Most of you are already wishing for my death me thinks :)))
TL/DR: Cosplay and lolita are two different things and shouldn't really be compared. Cosplay involves characterization and accuracy while Lolita is about individuality, elegance and being your own-self.

Just saw this at Behind the Bows and found it very appropriate


  1. Goddess! *A*
    Thank you for clearing this out. I hope everyone will be able to read this. ^^

    1. Heehee... It's nothing and I hope so too :) Please share it around if you find it informative :D

  2. OMG i love that last pic, everything said SO TRUE!!

    i'm not a dedicated lolita like some friends i know, but i've done my research and supported this FASHION/ LIFESTYLE everytime wen the clueless stubbornly labels "cosplay" with lolita. such a frustration.

    basta may lace & ruffles, lolita na daw. beeyoch please! >.<

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this! May I spread the love? I'm also getting into the fashion myself & would love to learn more (esp Sweet-lolita). <3

    1. XD I'm actually doing a follow-up to this called "Cosplay Lolita: WTF is that?!" to tackle some things misconceive/ call as "Lolita Cosplay" locally :)

      And sure! You're free to share my blog entry around :)

  3. AMEN.'Nyn love this blog article o your. I am no lolita but for someone who loves Visual-kei inspired clothing, I do empathize with you. People think I am cosplaying when I am dressed up in visual-kei/jrock inspired clothes orz.

    1. I really do admire most of your V-kei/J-rock inspired attire and I'm really glad you like my blog entry. :)

  4. Thank you so much for writing this post! This is really great, specially since it hits closer to home with our local Lolita scene. :) I'd like to put this up on my Facebook page, if I may.

  5. Sorry for the late reply but do feel free to do so :)