"He is coming back this way again..."
What should have been a lovely day out just chilling with my best friends, was gradually turning in to some creepy nightmare that was defined by the actions of a few selfish idiots. I started the day in high spirits with some outfit shots and then James and I met up with Sammi for a meal in Oxford. Later, Shalisa joined us with the exciting news that she had her first car after going for a viewing that morning (and from the pictures I can tell it is a really cool car). We sat in the Mitre, ate cake and were chatting and joking like usual. Sure, earlier in the day Sammi and I had to deal with this group of girls wanting to take an ironic selfie with the weirdos in frilly dresses, but the mood was lifted. And after the week I had, all I wanted to do was spend some time with my friends and catch up. I wont go in to too many details on here, but I have been unwell and it has been very difficult to resist the urge to retreat inside myself and not leave the house.
So there we were just chilling in the pub when a guy comes over and sits on the table next to ours. Not a problem, except he is blatantly listening in on our conversation and wont stop looking over at us. After a while he gets up and I assumed he had left. James and I were facing the wall, so I had no idea what was going on behind me. After a while I notice that Sammi and Shalisa are exchanging looks with each other and I ask what is going on. There is this guy who keeps walking over and looking directly at us, then walking off again. Needless to say, this is very unsettling. Even though we had James with us, that has not stopped strange individuals from approaching us before. What if this guy were to follow us? During the week leading up to us meeting, 2 girls had been raped in Oxford, and that was in my mind a fair bit during the day.
As we were wearing lolita, my initial assumption was we had caught this man's attention because of our clothing. It would not be the first time and I doubt it will be the last time. We have had to hastily exit places before because we have become uncomfortable around people. I began to feel incredibly angry. Trying to intimidate a bunch of young women is not acceptable. Feeling fed up with what was happening, I turned around and deliberately locked eyes with this guy for a few seconds. The pub was super busy, we were in a group and I was not doing anything out of order. I wanted to make a point of looking him right in the eye and letting him know that we were aware of him and I was not going to be bullied by him. We left a bit later and as it turns out, the man wanted us to leave so that his group who had by that point had arrived could spread out over the 2 connecting tables. As we walked out, I could feel his eyes looking me up and down. Wearing lolita or not, it was so out of order for this guy to go out of his way to intimidate us in to leaving, just so his group could have a table.
Feeling incredibly wound up, we headed over to the Slug for a cocktail, only for a guy walking past to lean towards me and say "Hey kiddo" at me as I walked past him. Oxford has a busy city centre anyway, but he went out of his way to invade my personal space, albeit very briefly. As we were walking and wanting to get back in the warm, we walked on without saying anything. But after the pub encounter, I had become this little ball of walking anxiety. I didn't understand what this man was hoping to achieve with his comment, but by the time we made it to the Slug I was emotionally exhausted. I was regretting coming out to see my friends and also coming to Oxford, a city which truth be told has never felt a particularly pleasant place to wear lolita. I have noticed we seem to get more hassle in Oxford than anywhere else. I have no idea why that is, but I would be lying if I said it hasn't put me off going there a few times in the past.
So you are probably wondering why I decided to share this experience with you. I guess it is because I sort of wonder when does a situation stop being harmless and become something more serious that may require action? It is an unfortunate fact that if you wear lolita in public, you will draw attention to yourself, as you are going to stand out in a sea of high street clothing and suits. Sadly this is one occasion where I actually did regret wearing lolita, even though I feel angry with myself for feeling that way. I suppose I feel that after the bad week I had and the stories in the news, my emotional well-being became compromised. Perhaps I was a bit more aware of the negativity going on around me that was being aimed at us. Looking back now, I do see that the "Hey kiddo" comment was just some silly guy being an idiot and I can just shrug it off. The man in the pub however... I feel like he was going out of his way to make us feel uncomfortable. Even though it turned out to have nothing to do with us wearing lolita, we didn't know that at the time.
So I guess what I really want to say with this post is to always be prepared. If somebody is making you feel uncomfortable, then speak up. Talk it through with your friends. I was having the most expletive-filled anti-men rant after this day and as it was in private, I didn't feel too bad about the things I was saying. Write an email, then don't send it and delete it. Always try to stay in groups and take precautions to stay safe. Finally, try to keep in mind that you are not alone. I know a lot of lolitas who have had these bad experiences and some of the stories you hear are shocking. We shouldn't have to go through this, but sadly these things do happen.
Here is an outfit shot for those who were wondering what I was wearing. I really wish I could have just written a happy blog post about the fun I had with my friends in Oxford, but this experience has been preying on my mind quite a bit and I felt compelled to write about it. I feel it would be wrong to only portray the positive aspects of wearing lolita fashion, as it can sometimes be a very mixed bag and awareness is vital. Sorry for ranting and rest assured that I am taking the time to look after myself both mentally and physically offline. I am very fortunate to have some very supportive loved ones. I hope I will be back with some more positive content very soon.