Today's Wall Street Journal story about Japanese hime gyaru, or princess girls, brings up lots of different emotions, some of them similar to the ones dredged up by the Gothic Lolita trend. Instead of dressing like storybook children, hime girls draw inspiration from Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton. All of the clothes are pink and floral, their hair is worn in ringlets and there are pearls and flowers on everything. It's "femininity" overdose, and the WSJ claims it's maybe "a bit of escapism from workaday stress and economic uncertainty." Except:Writes Yukari Iwatani Kane, "Some hime girls spend more than $1,000 for an outfit including a satin dress, parasol and rhinestone-studded handbag." So, in a floundering economy, isn't it fun to dress like money is no object? The paper speaks to Mayumi Yamamoto, a shopper at Jesus Diamante, a store that sells princess fashions. Clearly, her reality is different from many of ours:
"When they come out with a new item, I can't sleep at night because that's all I can think about," says Ms. Yamamoto of the Diamante dresses. The 36-year-old housewife has amassed a collection of 20 princess dresses in the past eight months and even decked out her bedroom with imitation rococo furniture. […] After losing about 33 pounds in recent years, she got hooked on Diamante's tight-waisted dresses adorned with huge rose patterns, and estimates she may be spending $2,000 or $3,000 a month. Her husband, an architect who loves Europe, pays for most of her purchases. Her parents, who live nearby, send the couple food so they have more money for Ms. Yamamoto's shopping sprees.
I get that playing with fashion can be escapist, and that a woman who likes petticoats and pearls, just as a chick who likes combat boots and plaid — has the right to revel in her choice of adornment. And I get wanting to look pretty! Bring on the flowers, pile on the pearls! But the priorities here — clothes before food — give me pause. Where does dressing like a princess cross the line into wanting to be treated like a princess, in wanting to be taken care of, in not taking responsibility for your life and actions, in not living an active life in the here and now? Here's the last word from Ms. Yamamoto on her shopping sprees: "I figure it's OK as long as what I'm buying is pretty." Here's a clip of Ms. Yamamoto in action: Click to view Japan's Latest Fashion Has Women Playing Princess For A Day [WSJ] Earlier: Gothic Lolita Style: Rebellious? Or Regressive? In Her Own Words The Gothic & Lolita Bible: Japanese Girls Are Living Dolls