"I'm Not the Only Lesbian Who Wears a Skirt": Lesbian Romance Fiction and Identity in Post-World War II America

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First, I look beyond clothing and hairstyles in favor of studying body image through the lens of the lesbian commercial novel. Secondly, I give attention to femme culture, which has been largely overlooked. An investigation of the lesbian community, using lesbian romance fiction of the era reveals that while femme lesbians mimicked mainstream body ideals, clinging to femininity and other heterosexual images had more to do with the fear of discovery  and discrimination than body dysmorphia. Mass media and its messages about body and beauty ideals did not impact lesbians in the same way as their heterosexual counterparts. Moreover, I contend that the butch/femme dichotomy was not as rigid as previous scholars have argued. (73)