The Lolita Trend
Trigger warning - Manipulation, Pedophilia
Lolita is a novel written by Vladimir Nabokov which was first published in Paris in 1955. It is about the middle-aged protagonist, Humbert Humbert’s, obsession and infatuation with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze. There have been 2 films adapted from this book; the 1962 film directed by Stanley Kubrick, and the 1997 (more popular) film directed by Adrian Lyne. The 1997 film is more popular as the cinematography is aesthetically pleasing and the wardrobe of Lolita in this film is iconic.
Lana Del Rey is an American singer-songwriter well known for making references to Lolita in her work. She was a self-proclaimed ‘sad girl’ and for teenage girls who are struggling, her music is a safe space for their emotions. However concerns were raised as many noticed how she popularized the romanticisation of Lolita among young girls.
The tumblr tag ‘Lolita’ (referring to the book and movies) is full of posts romanticising age-gap relationships and ‘daddy issues’. More specifically, you will find: pictures of Lana Del Rey, aesthetic pictures of age-gap couples, aesthetic shots from the 1997 film as well as fashion inspired by Dolores in the 1997 film. Another tag related to Lolita is ‘nymphet’. It is defined as a sexually attractive girl or young women. Humbert Humbert would use ‘nymphet’ to describe Dolores.
The problem with associating age-gap relationships with Lolita is, it’s a story about abuse and trauma. This can make these types of relationships seem less problematic and in turn can romanticise Humbert Humbert and Dolores’ relationship. And while there is nothing wrong with large age-gap relationships between two consenting adults, when someone much older is dating someone far younger than them, things start to get complicated. The normalisation of age-gap relationships stops people from recognizing if they are being groomed or manipulated, which is a huge problem.
Similarly, ‘daddy issues’ is a popular and widely known aesthetic on tumblr. By filling the tag with aesthetic pleasing photos, this normalises the toxicity behind having actual problems with a father figure.
After 2017, the Lolita trend started to die down. This coincided with Lana Del Rey shifting her image from being a ‘sad girl’ with the release of her album ‘Lust for Life’. However, this trend seems to be making a comeback specifically with teenage girls, who are posting content which glamorises Lolita on TikTok. Some examples of this are; aesthetic clips from the movies, pictures of Lana Del Rey, and there even people dressing up as Dolores and lip-syncing her quotes from the movies.