FITTING THE STEREOTYPE

Throughout the interviews for this exhibition, numerous women would explicitly describe or bring out example garments from their closets that they felt were stereotypical looks worn by someone in the LGBTQIA+ community. These garments represent a small collection of garments or shoe styles that “fit the stereotype” of what individuals felt a LGBTQIA+ woman looked like or what they thought others would think an LGBTQIA+ woman might look like.

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Flannel shirt, denim pants; Owner – Lyadonna, bi-sexual, woman, 32, lives in Iowa; c. 2010s

“If I'm going to be around this group of women, what are their expectations going to be, and what should I wear and I. I had this one, camping shirt or you know it's from an Outback store and, it's plaid and it's also kind of Iowa State colors and I was like, I'm definitely wearing that for this trip, so, I will fit right in. I got there, and I didn't at all. It was funny. I looked like a lumberjack, but, everyone else was wearing these, just these t-shirts that had these big rainbows on them, so, you know, it was funny, but I have thought about this before, you know, oh I'm going out in this, is this "too gay?" Does it look like I'm trying too hard to say, yes, I am interested in women” – personal interview with Lyadonna, October 5, 2017

Denim, Iowa State University Textiles and Clothing Museum

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Chicago Bulls t-shirt, hand-repaired cargo shorts; Owner – Cyndi, lesbian, woman, 42, lives in Iowa; c. 2010s

This is a typical casual outfit worn by Cyndi and she related her feelings about how her sexual identity influences her style, “I think in the past it did, because when I graduated from college I had really long hair, I was like, kind of a hippie, and then eventually, when I came out, it just every year, kept getting shorter and shorter and shorter and then for a while I did go short and spikey and my family was like, ‘who's that guy?’ I'm more comfortable with my hair short now. If I get my hair cut too short and [gasps] ‘oh no, I look like a lesbian now and then I'm like wait, uh, maybe I look like a lesbian all the time?’ So, my clothing, is typically pretty casual and then if I have dress clothes, it's pants, I never wear skirts. I don't own a skirt anymore. I don't own a dress, no pantyhose.” – personal interview with Cyndi, November 21, 2017

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Birkenstocks (brown sandals); Owner – Cyndi, lesbian, woman, 42, lives in Iowa; c. 2010s

“I had worn some sort of dress pant with Birkenstocks and I had a thumb ring on, and he was like, ‘oh man, you're an old-school dyke’ and I was like ‘No I'm not, I don't have ill-fitting pants, I have short spikey hair.’ So, we had a whole conversation because he was actually really close to my age, but having someone refer to me as an ‘old-school dyke’ because I had Birkenstocks and a thumb ring was really interesting to hear, cause I didn't think about that.” – personal interview with Cyndi, November 21, 2017

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Purple “psycho” sweatshirt, denim pants; Owner – Maren, bi-sexual, woman, 41, lives in Iowa; c. 1990s

Maren explained that she “physically presented pretty butch.” This sweatshirt is a garment she wore in high school in the 1990s that she felt was indicative of her sexuality. She related experiences about other garments pictured in the case as well, such as flannels and Doc Martens when she said, “I was walking with my girlfriend at the time, and I had a bottle thrown at me in Iowa City. I was wearing cut-offs, Doc Martens, a tank top and a flannel over that. I was very clearly identified in their eyes as a lesbian.” – personal interview with Maren, October 1, 2017

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White Doc Martens; Owner – Cyndi, lesbian, woman, 42, lives in Iowa; c. 2010s

Brooke (genderqueer, 32, lives in Illinois), identified her flannel shirts pictured here as signifying her sexual identity. c. 2000s. Photo courtesy of Brooke, personal collection. [photos on left]