Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Beauty, Personal-Psychological aspects, Lesbians-Psychology, Gender identity, Sex (Psychology), Self-actualization (Psychology), Femme, Queer, Beauty norms, Female, Physical appearance


This study sought to ascertain what physical beauty norms are present in the femme queer community and how these standards of beauty influence the experience of women who selfidentify as femme and queer. Utilizing semi-structured interviews with 10 participants that selfidentified as female, femme, and queer, this qualitative study examined how standards of beauty in the femme queer community affect one's sense of gender identity, the process of one's sexual identity formation, and one's sense of self. For the purpose of this study, the term queer serves an inclusionary function and is used to define a wide range of sexual orientations. Findings indicate that an ideal standard of beauty does exist in the femme queer community. Participants reported that femme beauty norms parallel mainstream society's, but demonstrate more flexibility in terms of the interpretation of those norms. Physical beauty norms were discussed, as well as modes of dress and adornment, and the importance of attitude and personality type. Participants discussed the political implications of their femme identity, noting intentional, feminist, and radical components to their identities. Participants also spoke to the privileging of masculine presenting, androgynous, and gender queer women in the queer community, as well as the presence of misogyny throughout both mainstream and queer spaces.




iii, 62 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 56-57)