Home » Fashion » Lesbian Style Icons of the 1990s Who Were Never Actually Lesbians Lesbian Style Icons of the 1990s Who Were Never Actually Lesbians Mallory Ortberg on April 17, 2014 in Fashion 13676100 Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F04%2F17%2Flesbian-style-icons-of-the-1990s%2FLesbian+Style+Icons+of+the+1990s+Who+Were+Never+Actually+Lesbians2014-04-17+14%3A00%3A41Mallory+Ortberghttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D13676 Christian, Clueless Alex Mack, The Secret World of Alex Mack Kat, 10 Things I Hate About You Gabriella, Brink! Kirk Fogg, Legends of the Hidden Temple Ellen, The Adventures of Pete & Pete Benny, The Sandlot Scully, The X-Files Faith, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Denise Huxtable, The Cosby Show Daria and Jane, Daria Everyone, Practical Magic Maya, Just Shoot Me Deb, Empire Records Edward Scissorhands, Edward Scissorhands Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus Mulan, Mulan Tank Girl, Tank Girl Carmen Sandiego, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Elisa Maza, Gargoyles Thelma, Thelma and Louise Olivia Benson, Law & Order: SVU Nancy, The Craft Gwen Stefani, Tragic Kingdom era Dr. Quinn, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Steve, Blue’s Clues Jessie, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Rogue, X-Men Monica, Love & Basketball Gloria, White Men Can’t Jump Tags: arbitrary decades, fashion, lesbian style, the 1990s, this does not mean these characters weren't lesbians mind you Related PostsSwimwear: Some Guidelines to ConsiderWearing the Pants: A Brief Western History of PantsAwkwardly Dapper: The Strange Exhilaration of Buying, and Wearing, a SuitHow To Dress For Work“I don’t think I’ll venture on dual garmenture”: Rational Dress and the Politics of BikingFemslash Friday: Mean Girls’ Layers Upon Lesbian Layers About Author by Mallory Ortberg Mallory is an Editor of The Toast. 13676Latest Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F04%2F17%2Flesbian-style-icons-of-the-1990s%2FLesbian+Style+Icons+of+the+1990s+Who+Were+Never+Actually+Lesbians2014-04-17+14%3A00%3A41Mallory+Ortberghttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D13676 C.B.Blanchard Just now realising how much of my personal style is still influenced by my youthful heroes/crushes, so much so that I am basically a Faith/Tank Girl/Nancy mashup. CleverManka And now I want you to submit an article proposal to The Toast that shows off your wardrobe choices for a week. C.B.Blanchard Monday: jogging bottoms and old top. Tuesday: same Wednesday: same Thursday: those are getting pretty rank, change into pyjamas Friday: same Saturday: shit, leaving house GOTH IT UP Sunday: nude I suppose I could do the article on what I'd wear if I actually went out. CleverManka Okay, so maybe just Saturday and Sunday. LeastBittern I would like a clothing article where several choices are ratty sleepwear – I always look at the first outfit of a "What I wore this week" article and think "OK, interesting, I could pull that off." and then look at Tuesday and think "That's definitely clothing she is wearing, yes." By Wednesday "TOO HARD. TOO MANY OUTFITS. SHE IS A WITCH." pitytheviolins You have collected all of my favorite things in one place. Thank you. Rebecca We don't know that some of them weren't lesbians! C.B.Blanchard I mean, Tank Girl was Bi, in the comics – she had sexual and romantic affairs with men, women and sentient kangaroos who seem to be male, so. Also, her own tank once. Faith is also heavily implied to be bi. But that's not lesbian.*agressively defends orientation from erasure* Rebecca Uh, I'm not implying that anyone here is lesbian in preference to bi; I'm perfectly aware that some of them are depicted as being involved with men. But for some of them we don't have any information on their relationships at all. lilsebastian01 check the tags! @BlairAWriter I was just thinking about Ms. Huxtable, star of my celebratory palindrome tweet for 4.16.14: Lisa Bonet ate no basil. whittingly Denise Huxtable, my guiding star vmartinipie Oh, how I longed to look like Alex Mack in the fourth grade. I can call to mind precisely the outfits I wore in order to achieve this goal. None of them helped me turn into silver goo, though. AmazingSandwich Girls in plain t-shirts…..*sigh* ashlynneblevins I spent so many days furious that wearing hats in school was against the dress code because they were denying my ability to become Alex Mack. beatrizcentury You almost lost me with the Daria and Jane (duhhhh) but Stefani and Gloria. YUP. (Also, I would argue, some of Return of Saturn but that's just me as a Queer and someone promoting hard femme realness). I would also like to add every single female character in Love and Rockets. bitzyboozer But some of them are definitely, categorically lesbians. hopitaglass yeah, i feel like every character in locas at least is p explicitly queer. everyone sleeps w hopey. bc hopey. heart eyes roumbaba These are all, ALL of my favorites. I forgot about Alex Mack! Carmen Sandiego, lifelong obsession! SCULLY! MULAN! OLIVIA BENSON. How??? tubatoothpaste Oh Scully. I know one misguided 13-year-old who was WAY INTO (rather matronly) trenchcoats and pantsuits… Abanthis …must… not… make… Scissorhands… joke… safvn Mulan is at LEAST bisexual and we have no proof that Faith isn't gay. Also, it's been far too long since I watched 10 Things I Hate About You, that sparkling gem of a film. C.B.Blanchard I'm absolutely certain you don't mean 'at least bisexual' in the over-senistive way my angry bi self is taking it, which is that bi is the lowest, only barely-acceptable entry point for lady-loving. And I mean that sincerely. I'm certain you don't mean it that way, but am commenting to let you know that it is coming across that way, at least to me and maybe possibly to otehr bi people. I am oversensitive to this because of the massive problems with bi erasure and biphobia amongst LGBTQA groups, and a pervasive attitude that seems to think that bi women are a subset of lesbians. Sorry. CleverManka I agree, it sounded a little upsetting but I am giving OP the benefit of the doubt since we're all Toasties here. I'm also confused as to how/when Mulan is shown as being attracted to women. I'm all up for examples of subtext, but I'm just not seeing it in that movie…maybe OP is referencing the original story (about which I don't know much), not just the movie? C.B.Blanchard Possibly. I mean, if Mulan can be read as anything it's more gender-queer or trans-masculine, but Mulan specifically only indicates attraction to men in both the film and its sequel. I'm not sure about the poem, though. There's nothing to say Mulan ISN'T attracted to women, but it's not like Faith or Tank Girl, who both canonically express sexual attraction to women, either within the context of the work itself or by mentioning past experiences. And yes, we're all toasties here, which is why I say I'm sure it wasn't intentional. safvn I sincerely apologize – and I'm sorry I didn't see these comments earlier. This is entirely my bad. My comment was thoughtless. I never want to contribute to bi-erasure, but I did, and there's no way to make that right. I'm really sorry and I'll do my best to be better in the future. C.B.Blanchard That's alright, I figured it wasn't intentional or meant. (One thing I love about the lovely commenters on the toast is that if disagree, or mess-up, it's nearly always fairly civil. Thanky you for being so lovely about it.) safvn No, thank YOU. Your comments here are consistently great (and really thoughtful, clearly unlike some of my own), and I appreciate you letting me know that this was not acceptable. Chandra For what it's worth, I (as a non-monosexual person) didn't read anything biphobic into your comment at first glance. But I do appreciate the efforts of C.B. and others to be vigilant about bisexual-erasing language. normal_catlady What are your thoughts on Kinsey-scale-type definitions? (she ask politely) C.B.Blanchard Mine? I hate them. I am not '40% homosexual', thanks, I am 100% bisexual. It's linear, repressive and based in a system of gender binary that I don't subscribe to. cheekypinky Yeah…Kinsey tells me I either didn't answer the questions correctly, or I am a "very unusual person". Thanks for making me feel weird about finding beautiful people beautiful, KINSEY. Janie_S Mulan never expresses interest in women, though. Also subverting societal gender norms does not have a direct correlation to sexual orientation. Bittersweet BRB, going to cross-stitch your last sentence onto a pillow. Guest The OP is probably referring to Once Upon a Time, which, while not from the 90s, features a Mulan in love with Aurora (and the at least would work because it's unclear whether Mulan was originally in love with Prince Philip). anxious_mofo this is illuminating. trudykockenlocker I will see your Elisa and raise you Margot Yale, Captain Chavez, and Hyena. malloryelis 1. Nancy in the Craft = female equivalent of Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show, v. important 2. DENISE HUXTABLE LOOKED LIKE A GIRL HARRY STYLES AND THAT IS A GREAT LOOK beatrizcentury re 2: have you googled Kristen Wiig Harry Styles? EPWordsnatcher <img src="http://style.mtv.com//wp-content/uploads/style/2014/02/harry-styles-kristen-wiig-impersonation.jpg"> malloryelis also, Gwen, the bindi was wrong but those abs and that wallet chain were so, so right whittingly Just had a flashback to being 15, standing outside a Wal-Mart, right after my mom said, "But won't you please carry a purse for me? I'm afraid someone's going to think my daughter's a" (whispered) "LESBIAN." And I pointed to the store and said, "I'M BUYING A WALLET CHAIN." evieskye I was forbidden from having/wearing Doc Martens lest anyone think I was anything other than suuuuper-hetero. Chandra I might make myself unpopular here, but according to my numerous Indian and Nepali acquaintances, bindis nowadays are pretty much divorced from any religious/marital significance and are used solely for decoration. I have never met an Indian person who was upset about a white girl wearing a bindi. Several of my friends are in fact quite enthusiastic about adhering them to my face themselves. The only people I've ever heard expressing disdain about white girls wearing bindis have been white girls. blady23 Hi. Now you've met an Indian woman who doesn't like it when white people use my culture as costume. And fyi having Desi friends does not give you the authority to speak on these matters. Chandra I'm not trying to be an authority on anything. I'm stating what I've heard and observed from actual people in my personal experience who DO have the right to claim authority. People who, in their own words, tell me when we discuss this topic that "White people are too sensitive." When my friends want me to wear a bindi when I go out with them, should I say, "No, because somebody I never met on the Internet is going to be offended?" I would never wear cultural symbols/dress as a "costume" and I would also never go out on my own wearing them. blady23 You were using the "my black friend says" argument, which is an attempt to wield unearned legitimacy in race discussions. You shouldn't wear bindis because it is appropriation. It is cultural imperialism. It has nothing to do with "offending strangers" (though I note how you only care about minorities you know personally, which is very white girl of you), and everything to do with behaving like a decent human being. And as an aside, if we called out our white friends every time they said or did something racist, we'd be screaming all day. So sometimes we let things slide, just to keep the peace, or because we don't want to face the wrath of a people who have turned calling someone racist into a worse offense than racism itself. Rebecca Isn't caring about one's friends a normal and healthy human behavior? Chandra was explicit about the fact that this isn't a case of "I want to do offensive thing, POC friend says it's okay, suck it!" but rather "POC friend has asked me to participate in this action." It's kind of gross that you're trying to spin her desire to accept an invitation to share in her friends' culture as "only caring about minorities she knows personally." Chandra Yeah, they aren't "calling me out" on anything because it was THEIR idea, not mine, as I stated. I live in a small town in a very white, very conservative part of my country. There are plenty of white women here who wouldn't be caught dead wearing a bindi. They are the same people who will openly express their opinions that Indian people can't drive and smell like curry. When my friends ask me to participate in cultural events/style etc. with them, they are asking me to share in celebrating a community that gets regularly shit on here. I am not going to disrespect them by turning them down. I acknowledge that it was wrong of me to generalize my experience to everyone else's, so I won't do that again. But don't act like you know anything at all about who or what I care about, because you don't. monopz I'd say that it's something that's pretty unique to the person? I definitely haven't had the experience that bindis are divorced from religious or marital significance (I'm still terrified of the priest of our temple yelling at me if I show up to aarti or any other poojas not wearing one, haha). I also know that they have a deep significance to my parents' and grandparents' generation (hence the priest), and as kids we all learned about why the bindi is so important. It may just be that your friends grew up in a different kind of Indian-American culture. Chandra Thank you for sharing your perspective as it wasn't one that I had heard before. My friends here in Canada are Sikh, and I don't think they're required to wear bindis in the temple although it's never been mentioned either way. I've been to the temple a few times and I think there were some women not wearing them? But I'm not completely sure. Anyway, Sikhism is of course totally different from Hinduism, so yes, a different culture as you mentioned. When I lived in Nepal for a few months, my Hindu friends there told me that there's a difference between the red smudge on the forehead (they called it "tika" and it was only applied to others, not to oneself) and the bindi worn as jewelry. To them, the tika has religious significance as a blessing, but from my understanding it isn't meant to be restrictive – it's applied to men, women, foreigners, even animals (cows and dogs mostly). They were the ones who told me that the bindi, on the other hand, denoted marital status in the past but is no longer really used that way. I'm curious if the bindi in your particular community has significance as a religious symbol in and of itself, or if not wearing it is frowned on simply because of tradition (sort of like how Mormon women aren't supposed to wear pants to church, even though there's nothing particularly religious about wearing a skirt)? Either way, if it's something you are required to wear at the temple I can certainly understand how you wouldn't want to see it worn as a fashion statement by non-Hindus. monopz I'm generally pretty not into women who aren't Hindu wearing bindis (as a Hindu woman myself), but Gwen had been in a long term relationship with a Hindu man (the drummer of her band? is this true? this is according to my mom so might be completely wrong) and was engaged to him, iirc. To me, I guess, the situation is a little different if you're embracing a significant other's culture. bluebluebaby I think Ms. Frizzle was the gateway to my weird Lily Tomlin crush. (weird on my end, Ms. Tomlin is eminently crushworthy) Parker_Twain Many of these Non-Lesbian Lesbian Style Icons are iconic to Non-Lesbians as well. Disgust with frilly bullshit knows no orientation. malloryelis you never need to remind me that straight girls like cool shit too but tyty malloryelis also frilly bullshit rules C.B.Blanchard frilly bullshit is the best. I ROCK my goth-regency frilly dress with docs and an undercut, thanks Parker_Twain That's fair. There are many people who can wear frills and pull it off beautifully. The anti-frill sentiment of my original comment comes from feeling that frills were imposed upon me. And at one point in time, it struck me as very difficult to find a simple, utilitarian garment unadorned by decorative ruffles or ruching. Anyway, only commented because I admire many of the style icons listed here, and find them a refreshing alternative to some of the actresses and models that a younger me thought I was supposed to emulate. Parker_Twain To unnecessarily illustrate past frill traumas (and then I will seriously stop posting and duplicate-posting) it's kind of the opposite of when Sister Bear feels pressured to change OUT of her frills in The Berenstain Bears and the In-Crowd: http://bit.ly/QrPdhq Parker_Twain That's fair. There are many people who can wear frills and pull it off beautifully. The anti-frill sentiment of my original comment comes from feeling that frills were imposed upon me. And at one point in time, it struck me as very difficult to find a simple, utilitarian garment unadorned by decorative ruffles or ruching. e.b. If you're interested in more Denise Huxtable style tips, may I recommend THE WORLD'S BEST FASHION BLOG, http://www.huxtablehotness.com – it's a blog that goes through each episode of the Cosby show and shows characters fashion choices. It is a gem. (Though obviously, Cliff's choices would be acceptable too – vests? suspenders? THOSE SWEATERS? sign me up). HellaNova BLESS THIS COMMENT shrillcosby Where is Michelle Trachtenberg's Harriet the Spy? literaltrousersnake …. sweet jesus I didn't realize I had crushes on so many of these characters, but I wanted to grow up to be Miss Frizzle since I was seven, so there's that. meanchelled so many formative crushes RIGHT HERE. also '10 things i hate about you' was the best advertising sarah lawrence never did. whittingly My mom, a homophobe of great renown, wanted me to go to Sarah Lawrence so bad because of that movie. smh Lins The '90s were just an excellent time for lesbian style trends, in general. Also, feeling very Alex Mack myself, today. I can quote every line of 10 Things I Hate About You. It never made any sense to me that Kat ended up with Patrick, though. Brittany Rosie was actually named Tina in "Do the Right Thing," and Gloria in "White Men Can't Jump." Either character could probably qualify though. malloryelis UGH I KNEW I PICKED THE WRONG MOVIE Agnes_Gooch I'm not even ashamed about how much my current fashion choices are still influenced by '10 Things I Hate About You'. Jaya Where are you finding your Sketchers and Prada backpacks right now because eBay is NOT working. Agnes_Gooch those are tough to come by, it's true, but my black underwear game is ON POINT. moosette Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2? Jaya I know I may be a lone voice but I will always slightly defend Gwen's bindi, because I remember reading an article about how she her boyfriend's (Tony, the bassist, who is Indian) family would put them on her forehead whenever she went to their house, and thinking "oh, that is exactly what my grandparents did to me and any friend I brought over, and then we'd wear them all the time." Not that she shouldn't have had the idea of cultural appropriation brought up to her (and that the harajuku girl thing is just a mess), but I felt for her. malloryelis look if you want to make it easier for me to love 1994-era Gwen Stefani, I AM NOT GOING TO COMPLAIN avidbiologist KIRK FOGG. EVERYTHING IS EXPLAINED. *mind blown* Loose Lips Sink Ships There's only one name/face missing from this: Sandy from SLC Punk. Betsaroo Wait, wait. How would this post be any different if it were simply "Style Icons of the 1990s?" I feel like the Venn diagram overlap between that and the current title is 100%. avantsweater The Matrix tbh avantsweater Everyone from Jurassic Park? Chandra Denise Huxtable: Proof that Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts have always been in style. tjdubya I miss high waisted pants and the cultural acceptance of comfortable women's shoes. Now the ladies are all like "OMG Manolos are soooo comfy!" Um, no. beatricks THIS IS TOO MUCH, and yet, I must add one more: <img src="http://hdwpapers.com/download/terminator_2_linda_hamilton_sarah_connor_wallpaper-1280×1024.jpg"> In the event that this image-posting attempt succeeded, I rest my case. KimJ Yes, Sarah Conner, and Lenny Kravitz too shahea Ahhhh, 10 Things, which I can quote in its entirety and also absolutely had a Thing for Kat's fashion choices. Also, as a primarily-straight-girl, I have to say that Patrick Verona's grin in that movie could have launched a thousand ships. (Please let this work..) <img src="http://cdn3.teen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Heath-Ledger-Smiles-In-10-Things-I-Hate-About-You.gif"> EPWordsnatcher No matter how many times I watch this gif, it never gets any less perfect. cheekypinky Stahp. Staaaaahhhhhhhppppp. PomoFrannyGlass April and/or Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles apples and oranges Ok something I have ALWAYS WONDERED about 10 Things I Hate About You…when Patrick is all wahhh noo I could never be seen at Club Skunk! Is it a lesbian bar?! The only dudes in that place are him and the bartender! And is that why everyone laughs at him when he says Kat looks sexy dancing, because he's hitting on a girl in a lesbian bar?? I need to know what the deal is with Club Skunk. (I have thought about this way too much.) Meff So many Lesbian Tank Tops. kaitlyn Let's get some femmmmmes up in this place….?! Rich Crenshaw Would Lisa Loeb count? I feel like this is her jam. Rich Crenshaw More Denise Huxtable coverage here would be fully appreciated. onehaslepers I demand your proof in re: Faith's lack of lesbianism, because … that dual Slayership was gay as fuck. Gay. As. Fuck. gay90s dr. fucking. quinn. tessunger So SO gay. http://narragansettnumber7.com/wp-content/uploads… shanny How were we ever supposed to believe Deb WASN'T gay?! I demand a shot for shot remake of Empire Records with everything exactly the same EXCEPT for the completely unnecessary implied relationship between Deb and that totally forgettable skinny singer dude! MaxMarvel I love Practical Magic, and watch it at least once a year, and listen to the soundtrack FAR too often. I also told my husband yesterday that my style concept is "a witch who lives in a lighthouse," so clearly this made an impression on me. And I have a pledge with my BFFL to become the aunts when we grow up. mindy In the mid-90s I appeared on *national television* wearing a double-breasted pantsuit made of no natural fibers whatsoever and my hair bobbed and dyed red. I believe you can all guess what I called that particular outfit. :) lmdunc Dana Scully was a style icon for me…and accidentally a life-icon. I went into government service and live in DC. I realized a few years ago that I have been unconsciously trying to become her for some time. I don't have a basement office or a hunky, brooding partner (yet) so there is still work to be done….