Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Honoring Kids

Here's what happens when you honor your kids; you get to learn things you never imagined learning!
This is how it happened:
My oldest daughter, Chamille, 12 right now, has decided that black is the only color to wear these days, perhaps with some skulls or maybe a little red to signify blood. She has a fascination with knives and weapons, crucifixes, death, darkness, and blood. Gross you may say, but lets look at what's going on here, as I did. Although it's been a gradual change, there came a time when it was firmly there in her existence. Now, in high school, I associated with all the goth kids because it sort of came with the territory of being in all the art classes and spending all my free time in the art rooms. I even remember doing the all black thing for a while too. In my own mind I was projecting what I knew of old school goth kids onto my daughter until a pivotal moment of sharing when a lightbulb went off in my head.
This is a girl who has always been interested in anime, which led to manga, youtube (all anime of course), online anime chats and rpg's, video blogging, picture searches (cut, paste, download, and categorize in folders), and let's not forget movies and tv shows (again, all anime). She decided some time ago to take up Bujinkan, more commonly known as ninjitsu, largely because of her fascination with Naruto and ninja warriors.
The thing with anime, is that it cross feeds with the Japanese culture. Cosplay is huge in Japan, where people are pressured to conform, it's a huge creative outlet that allows people to be different than who they are supposed to be. Cosplay isn't just about anime or manga though, it encompasses vis rock and they all play off of one another. You will see people dressing up like characters from anime or manga or their favorite rock star. People go all out in their costuming. I say people even though the majority of those that dress up are girls, there are a few guys in the mix.
Chamille and I were in her room talking about the neighbor girl and the newest restriction brought down upon her from the parents. They decided that their daughter couldn't wear all black, and in fact are going to go and buy her clothes of all light colors and get rid of any dark colors that she owns to prevent her from dressing all black. Needless to say Chamille and I were disgusted by it, as we often are by things that happen at that household. The conversation evolved into more about fashion and clothing and she started showing me all these pictures of anime with clothing depicted that she wanted to emulate.
There was one picture that she showed me that had the words "gothic lolita" written in the back ground. Curious I asked her if I could look it up while we were sitting there, thinking that it might be the character from a show that she'd never seen yet, and we are always on the lookout for new and interesting anime. To my surprise it wasn't anything of the sort. Gothic lolita is a fashion style in Japan. It started with a vis rock artist in the early 90's, a guy dressing all in drag with elaborate vicorian-esque dark Alice in Wonderland sort of look. That man, Malice Mizer, did something very few rock stars have done and took elaborate avante garde clothing to the fashion scene and people to the stores buying clothing to imitate the look. Although originally people had to make their own costumes to copy the look, designer started to pop up out the woodwork to market and sell the gothic lolita look. Currently these designers only sell in Japan, with one exception that sells in Paris, no surprise there.
My original assumption of my "gothic" daughter was changed completely. The look she is seeking has very little to do with anything in this American culture. In the process of honoring my daughters style of dress, I learned so much about, not only Japanese culture and fashion, really my daughter. As parents it is so easy to miss these subtleties if we dismiss them or ignore them or worse ban them when we feel even slight discomfort over something that our kids do. Honestly the whole "goth" thing scared me because I know all too well, the wrist cutting morbidity that seems to follow. Once again it is the parent that has to stop, think, and reflect, to trust and honor our children. My daughter is a beautiful and creative soul that surprises me and shows me the world anew all the time! Now I just have to find out how to make gothic lolita clothing, as nothing around here seems to fit the bill!

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