Or is subtle lesbophobia still rampant?


Described as a “sexy, powerful” new trend, stars from Zendaya (Euphoria, Dune) to Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) have been hailed for “dressing like a lesbian.” In powerful, tailored suits, these celebrities are subtly channelling powerful queer stereotypes that have been closely associated with the lesbian community for centuries. But is it really helpful to refer back to these stereotypes?

Arguably, no. As per The New York post, “straight” women are “swapping out their 6-inch heels and rib-crushing corsets for Dr. Martens boots and knitted sweater vests”, naming “straight-identifying” women Kristen Stewart, Bella Hadid, Zendaya and Dakota Johnson as transforming these typically “anti-glam” looks into mainstream fashion.

Erasure of Zendaya and Kristen Stewart aside, both proudly queer women, LGBTQI women have been fabulously fashionable since time began. Nowadays, “lesbian” fashion is closely associated with white vest tops, pinky rings and shag hair-dos, but through the ages, lesbians have identified themselves through men’s trousers, monocles, top hats and signet rings. Queer women have always been fashionable: we’ve just been side-lined, or written off as too “anti-glam” or “masculine” to be accepted as women.

TikTok has similarly taken to the “dressing like a lesbian” trend. Though it’s been used light-heartedly amongst queer women to joke about managing to get a boyfriend despite being in their “masc lesbian era”, it feeds into harmful stereotypes nonetheless. You’re still queer, ladies: don’t erase yourselves.

And in a way: aren’t these stereotypes a little outdated? LGBTQI women love a power suit, but we don’t take ownership over it. Queer tropes subtly manifest in an array of fashion pieces and trends alike, and it’s not always possible to say “where” a trend came from, per se. LGBTQI people have been influencing fashion for decades now – without us, half of the Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Prada collections wouldn’t exist.   

On this “dressing like a lesbian” trend, Jill Gutowitz, author of Girls Can Kiss Now, states: “Outfits that were once the domain of queer women have been popularized on red carpets and in street fashion. Seeing lesbian fashion mainstreamed feels validating, like we were right this whole time.” True: but let’s not forget that “dressing like a lesbian” doesn’t detract from the millennia of marginalisation queer women, lesbians in particular, have faced. We’ve been policed, violated, criminalised, and degraded. That ostracisation cannot be emulated through some quirky “trend.”

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