Ever heard of the 'Muslim Lolitas'? No? Well read on...
All pastel shades and perfect coordination, the best way to describe ‘Lolita’ fashion is to draw a cartoon cupcake – and then give it arms and legs.
Originating not-at-all-predictably from the Harajuku district of Japan, the community is vast. It’s unique. And it’s inclusive.
In other words, anybody who owns a sewing machine and/or a penchant for all things pretty and pink can join in, no matter what their age, gender, race or religion. Which is exactly how all subcultures should be anyway.
And for Alyssa Salazar, a 25-year-old Muslim Lolita in California, that’s where the appeal lies. Because when she’s in head-to-toe pastels, she might attract attention – but nobody gives her any grief for wearing her hijab.
‘I get drive-by haters that say, “Take it off, it’s not Iraq”,’ she explains in an interview with VICE. ‘But when I’m in Lolita, it’s different. People think it’s a costume.’
Adding that many Muslim women wear Lolita clothes without a hijab, (‘there’s really no difference, because Lolita is fairly modest to begin with’), Alyssa says she rarely gets abuse when she’s walking down the street. ‘The creepiest thing a guy has said to me is, “Little Bo Peep, where’s your sheep?” But it’s mostly women, who might say, “That’s cute,” or try and snap pictures without my permission.’
And many other Muslims agree. ‘We’re muslims and have dress codes which are to cover our hair and we just LOVE Lolita,’ explains Aira from Malaysia. ‘We’re proud that we can mix out [sic] faith and our admirations together.’
It makes sense – in a society which favours conformity, anybody who has the guts to stand out from the crowd deserves a high five. And in a society where Islamophobia seems to be on the rise too, it’s hardly surprising if some Muslim women feel relief if they find a way to distract from their headscarves.
It’s just a shame that that’s even a factor.