Everybody has their different reasons for getting in to and wearing lolita. For me, I really enjoy putting outfits together and even if I don't always like the end result, I have a lot of fun. I don't see lolita as a lifestyle, I see it as a hobby. I gradually decided not to be a lone lolita and attend meets and stuff. I am now part of a local community, I attend cons and bigger lolita meets in London and I am a member of many different online groups on Facebook and Livejournal. And I am happy. I enjoy myself and I have made many friends.
However, because I am part of so many different groups, I also get bombarded with posts. Contests, model applications, photo shoots... these are all fairly common. And I do enter these contests. I tend to view them as a bit of fun. I never expect to win, but I join in anyway just in case. And generally, I think a lot of lolitas feel the same way.
But sadly, not everybody feels the same way. I have read posts about people getting upset about not getting picked to model or slating the people who did win. And this is not the only thing I have seen. There are lolitas out there who compete to get the most Lolita Valentines or brag online about how they were the best dressed at a meet. Suddenly, lolita is not about dressing up and meeting friends, but a contest to be the prettiest, most popular and to get the most attention.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. In the end, I came to the conclusion that lolita is only a competition if you make it a competition.
When you are next making an outfit for a meet, ask yourself this- are you designing this outfit with the intention of being the best dressed there? Are you trying to compete with your fellow lolitas? I am not saying that trying to dress up a bit more is necessarily a bad thing. There are situations (brand tea parties, for example) where maybe it is a good idea to put a bit of extra effort. And I understand the desire to look good, because if you think you look good, you tend to feel confident. I know how this feels. I will sometimes get a random idea in my head and will run with it, even if it is not necessarily within the norm for lolita. But it is never my intention to deliberately upstage people. I never say to myself "I am going to look a lot better than ______ will". I do what I do because I love lolita and I enjoy what I do. Besides, just because you think something looks good or bad, it doesn't mean that everybody is going to agree with you.
My opinion on contests such as modelling ones, is that if you don't win, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are worse than the people who win. It is just a matter of opinion. It could be that you simply didn't fit the judge's particular vision of what they were looking for. If members of the general public take more photos of one particular lolita in your group, it doesn't mean that they are the best lolita. In fact, with the general public it could easily be interpreted the other way and they think that lolita looks the strangest!
I feel that as lolitas, we should all just try our best to be the best lolitas we can and enjoy lolita as much as possible. Competitions are not a bad thing and can be quite fun, but for me, this is not why I got in to lolita. I just don't think that winning contests should affect our experience. I personally find that I enjoy lolita the most when I am not worrying about comparing myself to other lolitas. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Lolita is not a chore, it is meant to be enjoyed!