[Trendzilla] Fetishizing Childish Things

There’s no denying that we as a society are obsessed with youth: Botox; tummy tucks; lap bands; collagen; cheek, breast and ass implants; $100-per-ounce face cream. You know this.

But it’s gone way beyond the superficial for some 50-plus years now. Just take a look at our obsession with young starlets—and not just the twentysomethings, but also the weird obsession with the personal lives of the underage “tweens,” such as Miley Cyrus, those goddamn High School Musical kids, Demi Lovato, and Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff before that. Sure, it goes in hand with the cult of celebrity in general, but why the need to discuss which 16-year-old is dating a 20-year-old underwear model (why do I know that?) or peer at the stolen nude photos hacked from Sidekicks and e-mail accounts?

Gossip Girl, a show documenting the sordid lives of 17- and 18-year-old Manhattan socialites, is one of the most popular among both youths and adults right now. 90210 is back (but soooo not good). And The City and The Hills are just offshoots of Laguna Beach, a reality show following, again, the sordid lives of teenagers.

The idolatry has crept its way into everyday fashions as well. Page through any fashion magazine (high-end, hipster, teen or otherwise—or, you know, any of the ones that have managed to not fold . . . yet), and you’ll spot the proliferation of the Lolita-inspired look: Mary Janes, teeny sundresses, knee-high socks, pinafores, empire waists. Saddle shoes were even recently spotted on LA “It girl” and drummer for the Like, Tennessee Thomas. The first time I spotted heart-shaped sunglasses outside of Lolita was during Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2006 runway show, but now affordable outlets such as GirlProps.com and FredFlare.com have picked them up, and they remain top sellers.

And nothing embodies this better than the Japanese (and spreading!) subculture known as Gothic Lolita, in which gals wear nothing but petticoats, platform Mary Janes, bonnets, bloomers, frills and puffy sleeves, all in an attempt to resemble young, demure, Victorian girls.

It’s hard to go out these days and stumble across women who manage to both look good and dress their age. These two, photographed at Detroit Bar, have done just that. Gal on the left: great hair, classic knee-length pea coat, classic flats. Gal on the right? Curly ringlets and flirty sheer dress belted at the waist. Still young, still stylish, yet still mature.

I’ve got to clarify, though, there’s nothing wrong with any of these items on their own—we all know how forgiving the silhouette of a pinafore dress can be. I realize the whole Lolita thing is supposed to reek of the sex-kitten image, but let’s also try to think about how fucking wrong it is to connect sex appeal with children’s clothing items. That’s all.

vchang@ocweekly.com

 
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