Japanese "Lolita fashion" anime subculture in Mexico

REUTERS/Daniel Becerrill

Above, Alin Nava (C) stands in a checkout line at a supermarket in Monterrey April 5, 2012. Nava, 25, is dressed in the so-called "Lolita" fashion style (ロリータ・ファッション Rorīta fasshon), a fashion subculture from Japan influenced by clothing from the Victorian or Rococo eras. The basic style consists of a blouse, petticoat, bloomers, bell-shaped skirt and knee-high socks. Nava is the co-founder of the "Lolitas Paradise" club in Monterrey and for members of the club, the Lolita style is not only a fashion statement but also a way to express their loyalty, friendship, tolerance and unity.

Below: Members of the "Lolitas Paradise" club share a moment together in a park in Monterrey April 28, 2012. More images, and a story about the cultural phenomenon as it exists in Monterrey, are here at Reuters.

REUTERS/Daniel Becerrill


  1. To each their own but adult women pretending to be or adopting the image of children is squick inducing for me. I don’t even like a shaved pubic mound for that reason.

    1. I wonder, does that squick extend to such things as Bronies (or any adults co-opting childrens’ cartoons in various ways), cosplay, or private fetishes of various kinds?

        1.  I’ve worn both red and gold Starfleet shirts to cons so I can’t fairly judge wearing clothing themed to the event you’re attending.

          Wearing as everyday casualwear, OTOH, while not creepy does seem like poor fashion sense.

      1.  No, probably because I like cartoons and video games (things often associated with ‘kids stuff’) and because I’m not sexually attracted to men (mostly).

    2. Perhaps you should consider your reasons for sexualizing it instead of pawning it off on them.

      1. Could be my limited exposure or my mind being literal with the naming of the subculture “Loli” or “Lolita” is specifically a reference to sexualized youth and the overwhelming predominant style of “Loli/Loli-Goth” I’v seen has been a mish-mash of interpretations of 19th and early 20th century girls clothing with items and cuts more closely associated with adult oriented and sexually-themed clothing such as fishnet stockings, or low cut tops.

        To be fair the Mexican take on it, at least as represented in the linked images, seem to be a lot tamer than the Japanese variants I’ve seen; both on human persons and in anime and anime-style artwork. My daughter draws a lot of this and her themes and subjects in this genre seem to be pretty mainstream within the subculture and it’s frequently…well it’s just not my thing.

    3. You’re strong moral fiber excites us all! 
      Please, share with us your other fetishes while simultaneously pooping on subcultures halfway around the globe of which you possess no understanding!

  2. At first I was all “qué pedo!” (Mexican version of WTF) but then I thought this is maybe a reaction to the machistic narco-culture these girls find themselves immersed in, where women are regarded merely as objects.

    Global village FTW.

    1. Do tell us more about the way women are treated in “machistic narco-culture.” Does it star Armand Assante?

  3. I think of this style as a branch off from the goth subculture. There are many shades of goth from chaotic-evil to lawful-neutral to ….chaotic-fruitbasket?

      1. I love Fruits Basket.  It’s aimed a pre-teens and it’s completely perverted.

        1.  My son _finally_ came to love reading with Ranma 1/2.
          When he’d read all of them, Fruits Basket was next.
          Somehow, he’s a-ok 7 years later; only time will tell :)

          1. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I just remember the book that came out a few years ago, “fruits”. Bookshop Santa Cruz employees had a fruits themed costume party for the release.

  4. I’ve always admired this subculture. I think the key here is to notice that these women and girls get together to hang out with each other in a safe hyper-feminine environment. If I didn’t think I’d look absolutely ridiculous and unintentionally pornographic I’d be all for it despite my age. There’s something appealing about unapologetic prettyness, other people’s fetishes be damned.

  5. Sick and tired of the macho deathwish posturing, these girls are looking for geeks, which I applaud wholeheartedly.

    1.  We’re not looking for anything–or at least, you can’t assume we all are looking for anything. Lolitas dress that way for *themselves*. That was actually the point of the article.

  6. Their outfits don’t seem as loud and unusual as those you see in Japan (and which you see at conventions elsewhere). They’d certainly stand out, but she doesn’t look that out of place in that supermarket, somehow.

    I think it’s neat that they’re taking the subculture all the way. AFAIK nobody embraces it quite like this in the US, where they dress this way all (or at least a lot of) the time and not just at conventions. I never really found these outfits and the makeup particularly attractive, but that’s just my taste and it’s irrelevant. They’re doing it for themselves!

    I wonder what prompts them to do this, as compared to what prompts people in Japan to do it. Some of the speculation in the comments here makes sense, but who knows.

    1. If you ask a group of Lolitas why they like it, the answers are all over the map. Some people like what they perceive as the modesty of it, compared to modern clothing that shows a lot of skin. Some people like the details of the clothing–the brand-name items are made with an eye towards detail and quality that is lacking in almost all current fashion. A lot of them (myself included) have always been attracted to the silhouette in lolita–the knee-length full skirts. But we all enjoy just feeling pretty in a way that is very unique to Lolita fashion. And many of us only dress this way part-time–I tend to only really dress up for meet-ups and wear a toned-down version of it to go out to parties or out with friends. But I also have lots of “normal” clothes and I wear those, too.

  7. Hey, so I grew up in Monterrey, and I think I can explain a lot of this (though April has given more intimate answers than I will).
    Those who grew up in the 90s in Mexico will remember the HUGE boom in anime – when the US was going through Sailor Moon, so were we; except our Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z and Cardcaptor Sakura and even Pokemon were uncensored, and had much better and more faithful translation than the US counterpart. So Japanese culture proliferated, and to this day at least every major mall in my hometown has a store that sells something Japanese-inspired: from Hello Kitty to video games to figurines and films. There are large conventions and long-running podcasts on Japanese culture, video games, and anime. I’d say taking Japanese lessons for fun is common (I did).
    A lot of girls who grew up with this culture often feel a little isolated from mainstream Mexican society, partly because it tends to be very conservative (and more than a little xenophobic, in my experience). Mexican girls are inclined to be very social, though, so it’s not surprising to me that groups of girls like these will get together and form a subculture for moral support; it’s not unlike gamer guys in both countries who find the same things cool and support each other when they get bullied, and hang out on weekends to have LAN parties. This is kind of the girly version of that.
    It must also be empowering to be able to do something like this, as a hobby or a lifestyle. It takes a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) to look and dress like this, so I have to guess that this is not an every-day thing.

  8. You guys are waaaaay too hung up on the wordname, “Lolita”. Sexy? Goth? Anime – even? Wrong-o.

    Look at these girls!

    They have no attitude or agenda…except a penchant not to be the same, boring female role model archetype — now going 35-years strong — around the world. That is, they are not athletic…nor *alpha*…nor invincible, Spice Girl-power disco biscuits…nor are they trying to be recently-reguritated punkrockers or hippies…

    These Lolitas are emulating the 1950’s — and back: a very alluring and far more powerful mystique. World cultures have brainwashed women to drop the ‘weaker sex’ moniker as if it’s poison, but it’s not, and now the worm is turning.

    Women don’t have to act, talk and look like men to be strong!

    You think you’re a rebel? Try being like this, ladies of the world. Here’s a style foreign to most women in the US and abroad: tender, sweet, vulnerable, domestic, nurturing — and, of course, the worst, four-letter word to women nowadays — FEMININE.

    You wanna demolish serious culture, women? Be a lady. Whether you like it or not — centuries-old, flowery, feminity and a desire to bring lavish comfort and frilliness to everyone, mixed with common sense (and cupcakes) is returning!

    This is the beginning of a huge, counter-20th century gender reclamation happening for women. It’s long overdue.

    Lolitas are quietly leading this revolution — all without cell phones, megaphones or sports bras. They’ve somehow realized there is ultimate power in dressing the part of being a flower…rather than having to constantly control, control and control every garden.

    1.  Uhhhh…..I hate to tell you this, but many Lolitas are also feminists. And are also athletic. Or hippies. Or punks–punk Lolita is a well-defined fashion. (Do a google image search!) I dress in Lolita, but I’ve also protested on behalf of Planned Parenthood, I ride bicycles long-distance, I love camping, and I am definitely a feminist. I own a cell phone and a sports bra. I also dress in mini-skirts and go dancing and drinking at nightclubs.

      Lolitas are students (lots of students!) and lawyers and cashiers and nurses and artists. Most of us don’t wear our Lolita clothes to work.

      Not all Lolitas are demure and ladylike. The ONLY thing that defines us is our love of a particular fashion, which we may or may not wear full time. Period. End of story.

  9. The Lolita style isn’t my thing but, you know what? That doesn’t matter. Clothing is a wonderful way for people to express themselves. Good for them. If dressing that way brings a little more happiness into their lives, who are we to judge? The world needs more happy people.

  10. Run, don’t walk, to see SHIMOTSUMA MONOGATARI, best known in the West as KAMIKAZE GIRLS.

  11. That was a thing in my (French) high school a few years ago. Never did have the guts to go talk to these girls though…guess I should have.
    BTW, is there any guy equivalent to that sort of thing ? New Dandyism or something ?

  12. Latina lolitas? Que chino.
    Like pKp said, is there a male equivalent? I can’t imagine a bunch of dudes wearing velvet sailor suits and still being interested in women.

  13. Why so much hate for what consenting adults do?  I am male and unapologetically turned on by this.  Pink and frilly and socks and all.  Fuck you if you don’t like it.

    P.S., adult women have hairy legs and armpits.  If you’re shaving your legs and pits, you’re participating in the very same “infantilization” or whatever you would like to call it.

  14. Got to say that this looks psychologically more healthy than the Japanese variant where the girls go to great lengths to have smooth featureless facial features and large, round eyes. It’s dress up and not ‘I look horrible unless I look like this.’

  15. When I was sadly stuck living in rural northwest Georgia for 14 months in the nearby “city”of Rome there were few people doing their own thing.

    One who stuck in my memory was a young lady who dressed in Gothic Lolita out in public. Always admired her for her bravery. One day outside the Barnes & Noble she and her boyfriend were walking in and three guys stopped them and started making fun of her. I normally avoid confrontation, but in this case I walked up and said to the guys that she was brave enough to do her own thing. I then pointed out how they were all in the same sneakers, same jeans, very similar t-shirts and were wearing the exact same baseball caps to the side in the exact same jaunty angle. I asked if they called each other every morning to coordinated their day’s outfit. They shut up and walked off.

    The other one that sticks most in my memory was the young guy who favored jester style tight pants and wore a multi-color cloak. Had to tell him I appreciated his style.

  16. So, Mexican women wearing clothing based on Japanese animation made by and for Japanese men with an underage girl fetish.   Makes perfect sense.  Sense?  Let’s turn sense into pounds!!! 

    All kidding aside, if they can find something positive about this and enjoy it and not hurt anyone then go for it.

Comments are closed.