Lolita (term)

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Lolita and loli are terms used to portray young girls as "precociously seductive."[1] The term derives from Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, which describes the narrator's sexual obsession and subsequent sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl named Dolores, whose nickname was Lolita.[2]

Justifying his attraction to Lolita, Humbert Humbert claims that it was a natural response to the "demoniac" nature of children who attract him:[3]

Now I wish to introduce the following idea. Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as 'nymphets.'[3]

Eric Lemay of Northwestern University writes:

The human child, the one noticed by non-nymphomaniacs, answers to other names, "Lo", "Lola", "Dolly", and, least alluring of all, "Dolores". "But in my arms", asserts Humbert, "she was always Lolita." And in his arms or out, "Lolita" was always the creation of Humbert's craven self... The Siren-like Humbert sings a song of himself, to himself, and titles that self and that song "Lolita". ... To transform Dolores into Lolita, to seal this sad adolescent within his musky self, Humbert must deny her her humanity.[4]


In the marketing of pornography, "lolita" is used to refer to the sexualized presentation of a young girl, frequently one who has only recently reached the age of consent, appears to be younger than the age of consent, or child exploitation material depicting the sexual abuse of children.[5]

In Japanese culture, the term is used to describe the Lolita fashion subculture of cute (see kawaii) or delicately feminine appearance. The style is characterized by full skirts and petticoats, excessive use of lace and ribbons, and a nod to Victorian and Roccoco fashions. Words commonly used to describe the style include "porcelain doll", "delicate", and "childlike". Within the general Lolita style are variations of the fashion, such as "Gothic Lolita", "Sweet Lolita", "Hime (or Princess) Lolita", and "Punk Lolita". These few by no means complete the list of variations.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lolita" in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^ Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. New York: Vintage International, 1955. ISBN 0-679-72316-1.
  3. ^ a b Nabokov, Vladimir (1991). Alfred Appel (ed.). The Annotated Lolita. Random House. ISBN 0679727299.
  4. ^ Lemay, Eric. "Dolorous Laughter". p. 2. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Protecting our children from abuse and neglect", American Psychological Association. Retrieved 20 March 2016
  6. ^ "Lolita 101: This Japanese fashion craze is now for everyone" by Aja Romano, The Daily Dot, 17 September 2013

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