According to Style.com, “lesbian chic” is in vogue right now. By making lesbianism a fashion statement of wearing Doc Martens and having a pixie cut, it is reducing the choice of sexuality to a passing fad. In reviewing “lesbian chic”, Style.com reported women preferring to wear flats and sneakers instead of high heels and the incorporation of baseball caps into everyday outfits for women.
Citing the beginning of a sexual revolution as the moment women choose not to subject themselves to a night on the town in four-inch stiletto heels seems a bit egregious to me. Women who are no longer dressing ultra femme are seen as embracing this new fashionable lesbianism, regardless if they are heterosexual and have no interest in women. According to the Style.com article, high profile lesbians are now prominent on the fashion scene thereby helping encourage this shift in androgynous fashion choices and maybe even encouraging more women to date women.
Coming from a lesbian who has never understood the problem with wearing two different shades of gray or cropped khaki capris, I can tell you that I’m not making a fashion statement with my outfit or my sexuality. But with all of this “lesbian chic” buzz going around, I get the benefit of being considered “fashionable” for a brief moment and the detriment of being seen as just going along with the present trend. Try explaining to your high-fashion mother whose platinum blond hair has never been above the shoulders that your style has not been part of some in vogue conspiracy, but has been a reflection of who you are. When I first came out to her, she explained that many of the women she worked with at her high-fashion boutique had experimented with other women in college and now they were happily dating men. Sorry Mom, this isn’t something that is going away like parachute pants or flair jeans.
Making lesbianism a fashion trend also makes it incredibly hard for ladies who love ladies to find other ladies who love ladies. No, you should never assume someone is straight or gay or bi by how he or she looks or his or her middle part ponytail. But by the same token, I’ll go out of my way to wear a men’s button up and Sperry’s to show other women that I’m interested. Finding a significant other involves social cues and signifiers that alert others to what kind of person you are looking for. In our happy valley, these social cues are already skewed by the hippie hipster aesthetic and the “It’s western Mass., I will wear wool socks with Birkenstocks in June” look. Trying to figure out if someone is a lesbian by looking at them here is like trying to figure out if they broke their arm in elementary school.
So stylistically, why is the trend of wearing less feminine clothing being seen as a vote in favor of lesbianism if the social signifiers of being gay are basically convoluted body language? What are we gaining by labeling combat boots and flats with a sexuality, and why do we feel the need to mark a shift from traditional views of femaleness? What does this all mean for lesbians who enjoy wearing four-inch heels and have long platinum blond hair?
In the vein of social fashion, it is irresponsible to categorize a certain look with a sexuality or race and to then make that look a trend. Doing so reduces the bigger issue at hand – who you inherently are and what you associate with – to clothing choices and a trendy thing to do rather. I’m a chic lesbian but the last thing I want to be is “lesbian chic.” I’m not gay because I wear plaid and have a mohawk or because finding a straight man is like finding a rainbow. I, a lady lover who is fashion challenged and is far too tall for heels, embrace that rainbow.
Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.