But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) is one of the most iconic lesbian films of all time. I am 100% comfortable using that generalization, even as an ex-academic who was trained to not make generalizations. But I'm a Cheerleader isn't just iconic for its unyielding commitment to campy social commentary (it's a satirical rom com set in a conversion therapy camp for LGBTQIA+ teenagers). It's also remembered for its outrageous pastel color palette, which highlights the construction of binary genders.
The film's dark, dry humor relies on the contrast between the tragedy of conversion therapy camps and the ridiculousness of gender constructs, which are literally represented as cartoonish with the larger-than-life set and costume design.
To be honest, I second guessed posting this guide, due to the reason that the film is (satirically) set in a conversion therapy camp - an issue that is very seriously in the national spotlight right now due to Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
But as a retro-loving femme queer, I also adore the costumes in the movie. And I often feel guilty for liking the costumes, because of the fact that the film is using retro styles and the color pink to highlight gender fuckery. I feel guilty for liking the skirts or the color pink. But why should I feel guilty about liking a particular style?
For the same reason so many queer and otherwise radically feminist folks feel guilty about liking lingerie and other traditionally feminine styles: we are told that we don't really like high-waisted skirts or stockings or the color pink or - gasp! - lingerie. We've just been socialized that way. Our choice to be femme is a betrayal, a failure, an unacceptable and hypocritical cowing to social norms.
Too often, queer femmes are told that our style isn't queer enough, isn't radical enough, isn't subversive enough. If a femme wants to "read" as queer, they'd better damn well get an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut and stop wearing high heels. Oh, the number of femme friends I've seen cut their hair when they didn't really want to - but they were on the dating scene or were newly out and had anxiety about not being "enough."
Hell, before opening Bluestockings, I seriously questioned whether or not I could in good conscience stock pink lingerie. Talk about internalized sexism.
We can acknowledge that some styles are coded a certain way by society, and also acknowledge the way we are impacted by our upbringing and socialization, and also then choose for ourselves. If we are trusting women and LGBTQIA+ folks as intersectional feminists, then we should trust them to choose the clothing they like best - and then not comment on the "correctness" of their choice.
Unsurprisingly, many of you love pink lingerie and super-femme lingerie and lace and retro and burlesque trimmings, and you ask for more of it. So, in the spirit of But I'm a Cheerleader and all things retro, camp, and gloriously femme, here's a guide for you.
Sevilla Slipdress by Under The Root - only one left! (XS)
Goddess Bralette by harMonica, S-XL
Light Blue Foxers by Foxers - only one left! (XXL)
Radian Silk Thong by Sophie Hines - only one left! (XS)
All Tied Up Up at the Moment Hard Enamel Pin by Quinne Myers