“Lesbian Chic’” isn’t really a new thing, especially if you’re a lesbian. Furthermore, plenty of lesbians, especially the lesbian ladies of the glamorous fashion industry, still favor a good ol’ blister-inducing, bone-displacing stiletto as their shoe of choice. Not all lesbians shave their heads and wear clunky combat boots, although plenty certainly do. Jenna Lyons, the recently outed head honcho of wasp-chic giant J.Crew has said on record that she does not leave the house without her heels on, not even on a casual Friday.
(Exhibit A: lesbian in heels and feathers and sparkles)
Now, as a feminist and bisexual woman working in fashion, I’ve been elated to see the rise in visibility for women who identify as lesbian and other non-heterosexual labels (if we must discuss lables). But, to make the mistake of saying that the prominence of menswear-inspired style is somehow related to the influx of lesbianism in the fashion industry, or that being a “lesbian” is just so hot right now, is a rather narrow-minded and slightly ignorant assessment that ignores the history of gender and sexuality in American culture.See, lesbians, or non-heterosexual women, have long time rejected conventional indicators of femininity and “girliness,” because they view high-heels or makeup or the color pink as symbols of repression and objectification. The “butch” woman does not value male approval, she does not seek to be the object of his desire, and therefore she does not need to appropriate popularly accepted feminine conventions such as the shaving of legs or lipstick in order to “catch a man.” Not to make this about me, but when I was eighteen I shaved my head. Though I’d had sexual dalliances with women before that, after I cut away all my hair, my shield, I felt unburdened of this notion of “pleasing my male audience”, and my relationships after that skewed primarily in the direction of women. I don’t think it was because I shaved my head that I started dating women, rather it was my need to be my authentic self, to remove myself from the male gaze, from the judgement, from the hiding behind, that inspired the radical hair cut. Along with the new ‘do, my style of dress also shifted to become much more masculine. I wore button-up collared shirts and cut-off tees with holes. I felt more confident. Less meek. Braver in the world. Now that I feel tougher on my own, I don’t feel inclined to dress quite so radically. I’ve even started wearing high-heels (mostly wedges and platforms, though). AND even though I don’t dress like a total man, I still think naked women are sexy and arousing.
Ultimately, what I am trying to articulate is not that I disagree with you, Style.com. It is obvious that combat boots and pantsuits are having a major moment in fashion right now, as well as charmingly boyish haircuts and bad girl partial-buzzcuts (as seen on Rihanna, model Alice Dellal, Tilda Swinton, and recently punked-out Miley Cyrus). I just want to add to this conversation that I think it’s a cultural phenomenon that I hope has implications that reach beyond the fickle nature of an of-the-moment fashion trend. I hope women are rejecting convention, I hope women are pushing boundaries and taking up more space in this world and uncrossing their legs, because I think that now is the time to do so. Wearing ripped jeans and studded biker boots doesn’t make you a feminist. Or a lesbian. But I do recognize the rise in gender-bending, androgynous, and line-blurring style as a sign that perhaps women want to outwardly channel what’s inside of them–a tough, courageous, edgy girl. And if she likes to sleep with other women, more power to her.