Notes on Femme: Beauty, Power, and Resilience

June 10, 2024

It’s Pride Month, and in an attempt to appease the SEO gods, I will write about LGBTQ issues. Now, normally I’d never say that, but again, I’m trying to appease the SEO gods, so I’ve got to hit those keywords somehow. At any rate, let’s actually talk about my favorite thing in the world besides being Greek, and that’s being femme. Fuck, do I love being femme. I’ve always been femme, but I guess with everything in life, I’ve had a very different relationship with it.

So many people have ideas on what or how femmes should be, but truthfully, I don’t think there’s any one way to be femme, except being hot. You have to be hot to be femme, obviously, and that’s mostly because I think all femmes are hot. I think people who tell femmes how they should be are kinda boring; not one person can define femme, not even me. Only you can define femme for yourself. With that, let's chat about what being femme means to me.

And a heads up, I will be talking about issues revolving underage grooming, domestic violence, and 


Some femme inspirations and icons.

I came out when I was 12, just a baby with bad brows. I don’t think I was one of those people who always knew they were Queer or whatever, but in hindsight, I was doing some very femme shit. I particularly had, what I as an adult realized was a crush, on counselor Deanna in Star Trek: Next Generation, a femme counselor in a low-cut spandex jumpsuit, can you say mommy issues? I often found myself wanting to be them, which is how I’ve started my lifelong struggle of do I want to be her, or fuck her? I imagine some other femmes can relate. 

Throughout much of my teenage years, I spent a lot of time trying to find community, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. What I encountered, at least what I consider a lot for that time and era of the internet, was quite a bit about Queer culture and history. I particularly learned quite a bit about the femme and butch dichotomy. Admittedly, I thought that’s all there was, and perhaps how it should be. I was still young and didn’t have the critical analysis or access to education that I do today. I don’t feel guilty for thinking any of those things; it was just 2006, and I was young.

Somehow, through my hours spent on the internet, I found out about The L Word, and it definitely piqued my interest. I was locked in instantly, a world with all queer women (and in later seasons, Trans king Max), sign me the heck up. I wanted to be in that world, even if I didn’t see myself in it. I didn’t feel like there was a place for people who were fat, and so a large part of me felt like if I wanted access to that community, and thus the love and admiration of a partner, I would have to be skinny. The only character who was remotely curvy or near plus-size (anything above a size 4 in 2007) was Kit, a character who at the time I considered straight. And while today I think Kit is the most sexually fluid character of the series, I didn’t want to be Kit; I didn’t want to be a side plot. I’m a Leo rising; I wanted to be the main character.

I’m sure with that you can fill in the blanks with what happened next. I don’t blame all of my issues with body image and eating on The L Word; realistically, it was a mix of the culture of the time, a complicated home life, and an arguably compulsive need for control in a time when I felt I had none. The worst part of all this, the appreciation I still find in Helena Peabody’s hijinks—hilarious. Lots of little lesbian tricks and games! I love rewarding bad behavior.

My ideas around sexuality and particularly the idea of butch and femme didn’t change all that much throughout my young teenage years. In fact, in some ways, they were reinforced, particularly by the common dialogue surrounding Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson’s relationship. I will say that throughout this time, I always loved femmes, and more importantly, loved being femme. I never saw femmes as inferior to their counterparts; perhaps quite the opposite. Femmes were powerful, beautiful, visions too powerful for Earth, which I still think, obviously.

But I’ll admit my idea of what constitutes femme was pretty rigid—again, a lack of knowledge, community, and the culture of the time. But I soon found community through an LGBTQ youth organization focused on helping young queer people organize around education reform and violence prevention in schools. And through that, I became connected and involved with a queer youth theater. I didn’t particularly care for theater or the stage (lol), but I liked other queer people, and I definitely wanted to find people my age to hook up with. At that point in time, I also started listening to a lot of Hole, and eventually more bands like L7, Sleater-Kinney, and Bikini Kill. I quickly felt like I had the dyke thing down—bold and brazen confidence only a 15-year-old girl with a chip on her shoulder could have.

A lot of my relationship with my body started to change at some point in the early 2010s, mostly due to finding plus-size fashion bloggers like Gabi Gregg and Nadia Aboulhosn. Within that, I found Nicolette Mason, a queer femme with a love of Kate Spade, a glamorous New York life, and of course, the world's cutest baby angel pug. She was everything I wanted to be. She was one of the first people that made me realize it’s possible to be fat, queer, and femme and be loved, and to have an actual life. Not just some semblance of life where you're going through the motions, it’s entirely possible to be queer and successful. Through her, I found the possibility in my future, both as a fat person and a queer femme.

Eventually, I got into a relationship with someone much older, 8 years to be exact. As you can imagine this wasn’t the most healthy relationship. I was 16, hooking up with a 24-year-old. More than anything, I was flattered that they thought I was cool, that they thought I was an adult. I was finally living my L Word fantasy, except it was just me and this very weird 24-year-old. I figured it was close enough, and besides, it was a distraction from the dysfunction of my home life. But the reality is I traded one messed up dynamic for another, as is the case with most people who have lived through any sort of shitty familiar situation. You're taught to ignore glaring red flags.

Playboys, money, and eyelash curlers are a few of many of my femme essentials.

A significant portion of my relationship with this person directly conflicted with the work I was doing in these organizing spaces. And so, our cycle of being on and off began. I wanted the time to explore other parts of my life. I played around with dressing a little differently, exploring what the idea of femme meant to me. It felt a lot less rigid than years past. But, of course, this person didn’t like that exploration. That’s not how femmes should look or dress, or for that matter, act. They should be submissive, unclaining, quiet; they should exist to complement their masculine partner. As you can imagine, being in that situation for so long took its toll. I became less of myself, and I really didn’t like myself for that. While I never had an issue being Queer since coming out, I did, for the first time, have somewhat of an issue with being femme, and that’s because I was letting someone else dictate what being femme meant to me.

After a number of years, I ended the relationship after a particularly bad altercation. I was left wondering what and who I was, and a majority of the relationships I had formed had been destroyed by the toxicity of my relationship. I started going to a number of domestic violence support groups, often feeling left out from being the only queer person in the room. That lack of visibility in domestic violence spaces added its own difficulty. And while today those days feel very far from my day to day, it took quite a bit of work for me to be able to find healthy romantic relationship patterns. Something I'm not too proud to admit I'll forever be committed to learning more about.

Throughout a lot of my young adulthood, I really had fun exploring what the idea of femme means to me. I spent a lot of time making nice with other femmes, which perhaps is my most solid source of community. I don’t think being femme is about dressing one sort of way or anything like that, but rather about the idea of resilience. Resilience in the face of violence, or oppression, or hate. It’s about the ability to love yourself even when the world doesn’t want you to. An unwavering commitment to finding your voice and living authentically. To be both hard and soft. To be femme is to be beautiful and multifaceted. To push for more, to daydream a little, and perhaps most importantly, to love.

So what does being femme mean to me personally today? Well, obviously all of the above, but also for me, it’s about being surrounded by beauty. Beauty in every way, beautiful art throughout my home, vibrant peonies, plush velvet couches, and the softest leather purses. I also love being able to indulge in hobbies that have perhaps traditionally been considered more feminine, most notably calligraphy, floral arrangements, shopping, and of course, gossiping. I don’t personally find them intrinsically feminine, but I live in a world in which people have been conditioned to see these as feminine. But if I've learned anything in life, it’s that hyper-feminine = queer AF and hyper-masculine = queer AF.

In part, being femme to me also means being assertive, something I am still working on, especially in regards to my career. That’s been its own journey, but one that I feel a great source of empowerment from as I continue to grow and navigate more. I love being femme, and I’m so grateful for my community and the support I get from other femmes. So many amazing femmes have been so kind and supportive throughout my life, but especially throughout the experience of trying to build this website into something more. Thank you X100000 over. I am so honored that I get to do this and live this life. Much love, babes.


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