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Japanese Mom Rages Against Lolita Teacher 
22nd-Nov-2012 10:49 am
I have a friend on mixi who was discussing a controversial question asked on Oshiete!Goo (goo's, a Japanese search engine, version of Yahoo!Answers), so I decided to translate it for this comm since it's pretty relevant.

Keep in mind this is just one person's opinion and/or could just be a troll, but I thought it would be fun to share and discuss.
I checked the mom's profile but there's no information about where in Japan this is, but it sounds like a small town.

I kept the original formatting and use of the word "gothloli" as it is still used widely in Japanese. I'm still learning Japanese so I might have some nuances wrong so please correct me if anything is off.

Link to original page:


My daughter’s teacher wears gothic lolita fashion.

Good evening, this is my first question. I’m the mother of a 5th grader in elementary school.

The other day I was out shopping in town with my daughter on a day off.
On the other side of the street we saw a girl wearing pink, frilly clothing.
Since it was my first time seeing a gothloli girl, I stared for a while, wondering how her parents would feel about her wearing it and how I wouldn’t want my daughter to, and I had a sudden realization…
No doubt about it, this was my daughter’s teacher.

I was totally shocked. I’d seen her at school wearing simple clothing like jeans and polos or t-shirts, or sometimes more formal knit ensembles and flared skirts for parents’ night or home visits, but I could never have guessed she was into such weird hobbies…
My daughter finds her classes easy to understand, she enjoys school, and she says the way her teacher reads books out loud to the class is really fun, so I thought she was a great teacher… but I was fooled.
As a teacher you are supposed to be a vehicle for guidance and growth so I cannot simply overlook her going around in that manner.
Isn’t it embarrassing at such an age to still want to wear ridiculously large bows and poofed up skirts…?
Teachers are supposed to reinforce societal norms so I can’t help but wonder how she can do that if she lacks the ability to recognize them herself. Recently I hear about all these hentai [pervert] teachers in the news, too.

Today I had a casual conversation with her and afterwards I mentioned “Hey, didn’t I see you at ___?” and she replied “Yes I was there! Were you there too? Sorry I didn’t see you.” without any sense of hesitation.
Normally, I would think one would be embarrassed and apologize, right?
I want to complain to the school but I don’t want my daughter to receive unfair treatment.
What’s the best way to word my complaint so my daughter won’t be treated unfairly?
Please lend me your knowledge.

The teacher is in her mid-20s, and if I can say something nice about her, gothloli doesn’t match her traditionally Japanese, Heian-era doll-like beauty.


There are a lot of responses to this question which I won't bother to translate since I'm lazy and I'd like to hear your reactions!

EDIT: zerii kindly posted many translations of the comments! Thank you! Scroll down in the post to read them.

22nd-Nov-2012 01:59 am (UTC)
i don't think it's a troll. from what i've read/heard this is a very typical attitude in japan towards alternative fashions.
i think it was a little bit of an overreaction but i can understand being concerned about what your child's teacher is doing outside of school hours.
22nd-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
"Teachers are supposed to reinforce societal norms..."

How are other people responding to this inquiry? I'm really hoping that this mom's attitude isn't the norm in japan >.> At least among younger people.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:01 am (UTC)
that is a very typical Japanese POV honestly
22nd-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Well according to my husband that site sometimes has entries writen on purpose to create this sort of discussion and just criticize. Of course they do it in a more sophisticated manner than we are used to as nobody is openly making fun of anything. But anyway since everyone is more of less against what that person wrote *joke or not* I guess even if it was true, the school shouldn't take those issues seriously (at least a public school shouldn't).
As people are saying: Its her free time.
22nd-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
I always find it interesting to see how lolita fashion is perceived in Japan. It seems that, in general/in everyday contexts (especially outside of Tokyo), it's just as strange! And, that the sexual connotation is apparently still there (or at least that seems to be what she's implying, when she adds in the bit about pervert teachers).

I would love to see what the other comments are saying. Being in a position of authority can put you in real binds in situations like this, especially if she's in a smaller town. I hope things are resolved, but the mother seems to have very traditional views about the role of teachers, so I'm not sure it could be.

Edited at 2012-11-22 02:51 am (UTC)
22nd-Nov-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
The mother admitted this is the first time she's seeing a "goth loli" girl, and hence is totally ignorant of the fashion. This still doesn't excuse her from being incredibly selfish, rude and mean. It's just clothes and the teacher does a great job and wears normal clothes in school. Still, parents like her aren't new and can be found all over the world, not just in Japan...

I believe this has been said many times before, but lolita is just clothes, and it's not even revealing. There is no good reason to ostracise or condemn someone just for wearing lolita.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:00 am (UTC)
I feel sad that that teacher may have to deal with this kind of situation; however, Asian cultures are often much more closed to any behaviour that is viewed as out side of "social norms". While various Asian countries do vary, most of them have very strict behavioural expectations and heavy emphasis on doing what's expected of you and nothing else. The only exception is if you excel at what is expected of you. Anything else is considered going against the grain of society and can be viewed as an insult towards the culture and your family (ie. people thinking "how the hell did her parents raise her to be like that?").

It makes me very glad that I've grown up in Toronto and the culture here is much more accepting of people's unique interests (especially in cities like Toronto). It makes me feel sad when I think about how people who similar interests in other areas (in Japan, smaller communities or anywhere around the world), who have to deal with difficult situations just to enjoy what they want to enjoy.
22nd-Nov-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
I'm from New York, and yeah, I was thinking pretty much the same thing.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Geez I really hate when people act like this. I can't understand their motivation at all.
What does this woman expect to happen? For the teacher to be fired or made to conform?
Neither seems fair when this woman keeps lolita separated so well from her job.

I also really don't like that final "compliment." Telling a person that something they love doesn't suit them is a line that I would never cross.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:05 am (UTC)
eh, it could totally be real. When I started working as a teacher in Japan I was warned against doing anything that might seem "strange" by my students and their parents (the key example was, since I was training with a bunch of other foreigners as a teacher in Japan, "don't wear cosplay"). I would wear lolita regularly outside of work anyway (and go to visual kei concerts), though the manager at my school tried to talk me out of both once he found out, citing that it might disturb the students. He and some of my other coworkers definitely insinuated that it was a weird thing to do.

Actually now that I remember it, I went to a good-bye drinking party with some of my office-worker students and they saw that my phone was decorated with purikura of myself and friends wearing lolita and they were like "No way! I can't believe it, you seem normal! That's creepy!"

ETA: Also, teachers in Japan are kind of seen as paragons of virtue, the way this woman is saying. Japanese schools play a much more direct role in the upbringing of children and put rules on kids even when they're outside of school.

Edited at 2012-11-22 03:08 am (UTC)
22nd-Nov-2012 03:11 am (UTC)
It's not like she is moonlighting a porn star, drug dealer or stripper. Better call in the petti police...
23rd-Nov-2012 12:41 am (UTC)
Or in this case, the Petty Police. XD
22nd-Nov-2012 03:18 am (UTC)
and if I can say something nice about her, gothloli doesn’t match her traditionally Japanese, Heian-era doll-like beauty.

^i really despise that comment
22nd-Nov-2012 03:48 am (UTC)
The idea that amy_the_yu described is actually pretty common to a lot of ethnically homogeneous Asian countries (well, at least I know for China, Korea, and Japan it is). Because the entire nation is practically all distantly related, nationalism is pretty common and there's this thought that all citizens should contribute back to the country in some way.
That's why teachers are held in high esteem- because they can instill that form of nationalism in the younger generation. They have to be good role models.

Well going back on topic, I don't think the lady is a troll. I mean Japan is still pretty conservative, and seeing a lolita for the first time might have been pretty shocking to her.
And lolita does have that sexual connotation in Asia as well. My mom still thinks lolita is an inappropriate and sexual fashion (she's Korean). She even referred to the dresses I showed her as 'something a prostitute would wear' once. She's given up on putting me off the fashion though, and accepts it because I like it though haha.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
I completely agree. I think a lot of responses in this thread come from people unaware that Japan has a "collective society" where things are done typically for the benefit of all and "going against the grain" is generally frowned upon.
22nd-Nov-2012 05:01 am (UTC)
I don't think this is a troll. I know I had a Japanese teacher who liked gothic lolita, and always complimented me when I wore it. When I asked her whether she wore it or had worn it, she said she had always wanted to be a teacher, and that if she had worn it she would have to worry about losing her job or finding employment in the future, because lolitas were still seen as kind of weird perverts in Japan.

With that said, I glanced through the comments and it was nice to hear that most people didn't agree with the mom's worries that the teacher was somehow unfit for duty.

I also think this is a really interesting contrast between Japan and North American countries. I work as a teaching aide and I know many other lolitas who work as teachers and wear casual versions of the fashion to work. I don't look at all out of place alongside all the other teachers at my school as long as I keep the fashion toned-down a bit.
22nd-Nov-2012 06:29 am (UTC)
This is something... I don't know I expected more 10 or 12 years ago in Japan. :/
I know there was some talk back in the day of Japanese perceptions on lolita fashion and I remember
reading that outside of Tokyo, especially in the suburban areas it was considered really strange, but
some part of me hoped that sort of ,"it's strange!" perception died out some.
22nd-Nov-2012 06:39 am (UTC)
My partner is a highschool teacher and as such had to pretty much wipe his existence from the internet just in case one of his students googled him, not that there was anything dodgy on the internet but he was worried about personal information getting out to students. While it sounds crazy it doesn't really matter what country you are in: Crazy parents will be crazy and some people will object to all sorts of things on little to no grounds and the first people in the firing line are usually teachers due to the perception that they are "Shaping the leaders of tomorrow".

22nd-Nov-2012 09:47 am (UTC)
I think it would be the same anywhere in the world. I trained to be teacher and it is absolutely the case that while you are supposed to encourage diversity you are never allowed to actually be diverse. Likewise, you do not have your own life and parents/principals/coworkers are assumed to have the right to judge what you do in your free time. That's why I finished my year at teachers college and went right back to the jobs I was doing before. I'd rather be low paid and have my life to myself. :(
22nd-Nov-2012 09:49 am (UTC)
Favourite bit so far:

[So you're a pervert if you wear lolita?
Do you actually know the meaning of the word "pervert"?
Isn't it OK to just say "Man, people wear some weird clothes"?

While being a teacher obviously does raise some awkward issues, it's encouraging to see a lot of people defending her right to wear what she likes outside of school time, or at the very least suggesting that this mother approach the subject with more of an open mind. As well as lolitas, commenters who don't particularly like the fashion, or who more or less agree with the OP's sentiments are still sympathetic to the teacher.

As the father's popular comment suggests (and to paraphrase): "It's a tricky one; perhaps you should meet with her teacher and ask "Have you considered wearing a less shocking fashion...?" Then you can listen to the teacher's thoughts on the fashion, and have a mutually rewarding conversation."
22nd-Nov-2012 10:37 am (UTC)
Thank you go_slow_ly for posting this. Some of the comments are really interesting, so I'm using it as a bit of translation practice. Hope you won't mind if I post some of them here; I hope that they'll fuel our discussion here rather than divert it.

I'm not going to pretend this is a precise translation, but the point comes across:

[From someone connected to a high school: I think that, within a town, there is some guidance that "outside of work hours, become a model citizen, and don't break the mutual trust". To look at it from that point of view, she has broken your trust, and is wrong for having done so. I completely understand your feelings, since you entrust your precious child to her.

But isn't it too much of a leap to say that "goth loli = perverse, a weird hobby"? Aren't you negating all of her humanity and genuine merit? Moreover, before you say that you can't put your faith in her anymore, you should first talk directly to her. Can you give her at least that much consideration?
There wouldn't be a problem speaking directly to the principle or management; it wouldn't cause any prejudice against your child. At school, whatever problems the parent may have won't give distinction to their child.
However, you do have a strong conviction, and you will probably influence other people you meet, so even when communicating with the school, it's better that it's in the form of discussion, rather than protest.
It's necessary that home and school face the same direction and co-operate for the sake of children's health development.

Finally, other commenters have said the same, but for a parent/guardian not to speak respectfully towards a teacher, even if she is younger than you, is pretty shameful as a member of society. A teacher would certainly speak respectfully towards the parent/guardian.

I think perhaps you may be a bit upset and emotional, so when you speak to her, collect yourself, and so that you don't simply see her as a "monster", I think you should speak and conduct yourself carefully.]
22nd-Nov-2012 11:44 am (UTC)
I don't think the mother is so concerned about the teacher wearing it in and of itself, but that her child or other children being taught by the teacher might get it into their heads that because they look up to her, they also want to be little gothlolis too. Whatever her reasons, or what she thinks is the kind of ideas a child will have, the mother has a right to raise a child a certain way. Just because the teacher does something in their off time does not mean it is actually in the private sphere.

The funny thing is, Western societies are just as prevalent about these "teachers outside of school aren't necessarily in the private sphere" thing but they're just not as righteous about it, like that kindergarten teacher who got fired because she used to do porn 10 years before she was a teacher. A lot of teachers are told to not assume an authoritative position on certain things (eg vaccines, abortion, divorce, contraceptive and sexual health, evolution) when asked directly by students.

There is a private Jewish school here, and the teachers have to eat vegetarian meals free of all common allergens (milk, egg, nuts, soy) because the student body might be tempted to break the rules (whether it's keeping kosher or keeping an allergic student safe) in their own packed lunches. You'd think "who cares, don't the teachers eat in the staffroom anyway and how would anybody check if a teacher keeps kosher in their own homes?" but this is apparently a thing where students and parents will dob a teacher in, even if they themselves are moderate/reformist/atheist-and-only-culturally-Jewish and don't necessarily keep kosher.
22nd-Nov-2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
Sadly, probably not a troll.

However I'd be interested to hear about the general consensus of the replies (not a translation or anything though, surely that would take forever xD)...But I'm curious as to if a lot of people are saying "She can wear what she wants outside of work, it's fine etc etc" then maybe it would sway the OP's thinking a little and get her to loosen up.
And if they're all agreeing with her and saying it's terrible to let lolitas teach their children, I think that's also an interesting bit of insight into their society. Either way, I'm really curious to the answers :o!
22nd-Nov-2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
Oh and personally, I can see why the mother is concerned. Though Lolita is a pretty tame example of the extremities a teacher could be into.

Not saying I'm against self-expression in a person's free time, but I think if I had a child and their teacher was into collecting swords and larp-fighting sessions (I'm just using this as an example lol) ...I'd be a little worried my child would believe it's the norm to wave a sword around. So I can understand how this mother is worried that her daughter might be affected by the way this teacher dresses, even if she is a bit snobbish about it.
22nd-Nov-2012 01:14 pm (UTC)
This makes me respect the lifestyle (and non lifestyle) lolitas in Japan even more if this is the norm
22nd-Nov-2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
If the teacher wears casual clothes at work (which she does!), where's the problem then? I mean, even teachers got free time and a personal life aside from work- so it's nobody's business what they do and wear while not teaching (and even it they would work in lolita, I personally wouldn't care as long as she does a good job but I'm quite open minded and European...)
22nd-Nov-2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Weird, I tought generally it´s no big deal in Japan to dress in lolita or cosplay or whatever. I thought that only the people in other countries around the world are so smug and negative towards this fashion. I think it´s a shame that the reaction of the mother is so negative and derogatory, I would´ve been really happy if I had such a teacher. But I only had old boring teachers all my life (which were dressed badly btw). :/
22nd-Nov-2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
I think the POV between east and west is the key point here. Westerners will probably think the parent is overreacting, and that the teacher should be able to wear whatever she wants in her private life. But, as Japan has a collective society, they don't really roll with the idea of a private life. Instead, it's often believed that you should hold your work over your self. Of course, hivemind is not the be-all-end-all, and things are changing, blah blah, but this is just what I've learned firsthand. Your mileage may vary.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Hey! I have finally seen you posting (should have figured this'd be it.) I think it depends on city schools vs. country schools, and the individual school on how strict they are. Some schools police festivals for their students breaking rules, and some don't enforce those self-same rules in-class. It really depends.
22nd-Nov-2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
At least a lot of the comments were saying that what she does in her private time is her business, and as long as she's not breaking the law it's fine. Though I did see some comments saying she should talk to the principal. It really makes me angry. I'm a teacher in Japan, but luckily I've never seen any of my students while I was wearing it. I would probably go hide somewhere. But then again, they may not even recognize me since I never wear make-up in class, but I do in lolita.
22nd-Nov-2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
TBH I can't really blame the mother for thinking that? I mean, yes, it's quite old-fashioned and harsh, however, for younger students and a lot of parents, a teacher is a teacher is a teacher, whether they see her in or out of school/class. It does seem unfair and controlling, but that's... simply how it is when one becomes a teacher, especially in an Asian country. Not that I think the mother is right (wearing lolita is a completely harmless hobby, and her associating it with "pervert teachers" is just ugh), but just putting that out there.
22nd-Nov-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I always find this so ironic, considering what I wear to teach here in Japan. Of course I would never dream of wearing lolita in the classroom, but pink tights got 'how cutes!', as did my heart-shaped AP purse. AatP blouse with pencil skirt was liked, as were other pieces I regularly accent my lolita clothing with. Basically, all the aesthetics that lolita loves are okay, just not wearing them all together with a petticoat (although a small petti with other things is totally okay). But seriously, the mothers come in wearing Hello Kitty stuff with Mickey Mouse all over their cell phones and then they think that lolita is weird... hello...
22nd-Nov-2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
YES. I always have to wonder what the hell is up with this.... In addition I get the same comments, especially as a teacher myself.

Edited at 2012-11-22 09:11 pm (UTC)
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