Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Giving con-crit without being a bitch

When I initially decided to become more active amongst the online lolita community I have to admit, I felt a little intimidated. I had heard all these rumours about the EGL community (thankfully my overall experience has been positive), I knew all about Lolita Secrets and GetOffEGL and I was unsure about how I would fit in. But if I could pick one thing that I was really worried about it was giving constructive criticism to my fellow lolis.

I am not exactly confident to begin with so I generally stayed clear of con-crit situations. But there were also times where I desperately wanted to comment if I felt something looked bad or if I had come up with an interesting idea. Whenever I have made a negative comment I worry about the response I am going to get. I have read some entries on GetOffEGL under the Baaaaaw and butt-hurt tags about some people who clearly were not looking for con-crit and just wanted praise. I was also concerned that people would think I was being a hypocrite. I admit that I still have a lot of work to do to improve my wardrobe and I still have lots of holes I need to fill. Even when I post things on here I read them back a few months later and I sometimes get a bit embarrassed. So would these people appreciate advice from somebody who also needs to work on their outfits more? But then I told myself that nobody is perfect and there is no such thing as the "Perfect Lolita". We should try to learn together and be supportive where we can. So with this in mind, I asked myself what is the best way to give con-crit?

Give compliments when somebody is doing something you like- Even if people feel uncomfortable giving con-crit, I feel it is important to give positive feedback when you like something. You don't necessarily need to give con-crit but by giving compliments when you like something and not saying anything when you dislike stuff, even this can give the wearer a clear message. People will be able to see which of their outfits have had the best response because in theory, their best outfits will be the ones with the most positive comments. If an entry has fewer responses it might be time to consider improving the outfit even if there are a few positive comments given. Of course, this would depend on how observant the outfit wearer is.

Don't lie- If you don't like something then don't say that you do. It will just encourage people to do it again.

The 'compliment sandwich'- I am borrowing this from Family Guy, but I am sure the compliment sandwich does exist in other situations. Basically you give a positive comment, then a comment on where improvement is needed and then finish with another positive comment. Even if your positive comments are only really small little details, the compliment sandwich can still work. I think the reason it works is because you are softening the blow by surrounding the con-crit with nice things and also assuring the person that they have not got an outfit completely wrong.

Wording is very important- try to word your con-crit maturely. Using phrases like "OMG, what the HELL are you wearing!?!?!?!?" can be highly upsetting. I think if I was in this situation and somebody said something like this, I would find the person incredibly childish and a bit overly dramatic. It may work for celebrities on high profile fashion shows but it does not work as well in the real world.

Try not to post anonymously if you can- Lolita Secrets and anon posting does have its uses and sometimes people really are too shy to say things openly but it can look as if the poster has something to hide. Sometimes when I am reading the secrets on Sunday I find myself wondering why this anon felt they couldn't say these things to the person's face. I think most people can handle moderate con-crit so using anonymous posting should be a last resort.

Be prepared to make suggestions on how to improve- I think if people give con-crit it can be very helpful to give suggestions on what you would do. If people are getting criticised then it can be frustrating if they don't know how they can evolve their look.

Try to remember you are talking about somebody else's outfit and not yours- It is important to remember that people have different tastes. Just because you wouldn't wear something, it doesn't automatically make an outfit bad. Try to give con-crit but respect other people's tastes.

Once something is said you can't take it back- If you do say something you regret then the best thing to do is say you are sorry. But you should always think before you speak.

Remember that there will always be people who can't handle bad comments- There will always be people out there who start getting angry with con-crit no matter how helpful it is. The best thing to do is apologise or explain that you were simply making a suggestion. Don't get involved in a war of words. If they keep angrily responding to you just walk away.

And if anybody has any more helpful advice I would love to hear it. I have found that over time I have gradually become more confident so when I see the words con-crit on Daily Lolita, it does not seem as scary as it used to. And if somebody criticises you, don't automatically assume the person is trying to attack you. If you can't handle con-crit then simply ignore it.

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