The Modern Lolita: Why Are We So Obsessed?

by Geneva Hutcheson · August 3, 2016

"A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of her husband." - Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

In her 1929 essay A Room of One's Own, originally delivered in a series of speeches to two women's colleges, Virginia Woolf laments that women have long been the poorer class, subject to the will of their fathers and husbands, beaten and sent away like irreverent children for their defiance. 

Out of this miscegenation between women and children, the sexualization of girls on the cusp of adulthood, and the reduction of grown women to the status of children (think Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, and on the other end of the spectrum - Natalie Portman in Garden State), a curious dichotomy has arisen: adult women are portrayed dressed in school girl skirts, ditzy and helpless (Zooey Deschanel in everything, the women from shows like Bones who hold high pressure jobs but are mysteriously incapable of taking care of themselves); young girls are shown making adult decisions (Lily-Rose Depp modeling for Chanel, Kylie Jenner - just on the cusp of adulthood - pouting in a black bikini and heavy foundation).

With social media, individuals have greater control of their own public perception, but the societal tendency towards sexualizing young girls and infantilizing grown women has not stopped; it has rather transformed. Do individuals like Eileen Kelly and Lana Del Rey, who one must assume have a certain level of control over their image, subvert or encourage the Lolita look (lollipop to lips, heart shaped sun glasses shading eyes, male gaze hovering on the forefront of our communal perception)? Let's investigate.

[Photo via @lilyrosedepp]