Why Having a Beauty Icon Was So Important for My Femme Lesbian Identity


Paramount Pictures

Like most women of my generation (I'm loathe to refer to myself as a millennial, but according to most distinctions, I'm on the cusp), the movie Clueless has long been one of my favourites. I was 13 when it hit the big screen the summer of 1995, and I specifically remember how thrilled I was to be going to a PG-13 movie sans parent with my coolest friend (shout-out to Kristy Sanford!).

I left the theatre transformed. Cher Horowitz was my new everything. I needed that electronic, revolving, computerised wardrobe, no matter how ill-fitting and out of place her bodycon Calvin Klein dress might look on my still-processing secondary school torso. I craved that pouty lip she so effortlessly perfected before a long day at school. I plastered posters from the movie on my wall—large declarations of my love of Alicia Silverstone and other defining phrases from the film, just in case I forgot what "Monet" meant in a way-harsh moment. (As if!)

My first day back at school, I gave the Cher look my best shot. I had found a silky-satin blue top, plaid skirt and knee-highs at the local shopping centre, and I applied my makeup in an attempt at the "natural beauty" that Silverstone so effortlessly achieved. No one got it. As soon as I was on the bus, I felt self-conscious among my peers who clung to the uniform of choice—Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Nike (for those who could afford it). Personal style was lacking; it wasn't kosher to look different, even if it that was what all the cool girls at Beverly Hills High were wearing and slaying in.

Alicia Silverstone just had something special about her that I couldn't really (or truthfully, didn't try to) name. The Aerosmith videos she starred in around the same time were my absolute favourites—her long dirty-blonde hair and arched eyebrows daring people to fuck with her. She could make flannel look sexy—put on a suit and entice Liv Tyler. She was classic beauty with an edge, the kind of young woman who wasn't putting up with men's shit. She was my girl crush… in every sense of the phrase.