Extremely Feminine Styles as Subversive and Feminist

90s kinderwhore style
(not my photo, obviously)

When I was in early high school all the “Kinderwhore” (awful, awful name that) alternative style began to dig itself into the mainstream. Feminist icons like Courtney Love and the Muffs began to get widespread attention and their signature style started to catch on. Babydoll dresses, maryjanes, chokers, and plastic barrettes were suddenly everywhere.

(also not my photo)

Today I think there is still something vital in what they were doing aesthetically, something that is still relevant and necessary today (even if the style isn’t de rigueur). I believe how we dress and craft our image is vital to changing the world, paying attention to your appearance has often been touted as “vapid” or frivolous, a hobby for shallow women- when it is anything but. It’s a silent way to protest, to show people another viewpoint without aggression.

“Kinderwhore was a strong feminist statement. It was about so much more than a little velvet dress, ripped tights and a dumb media-made label. It was about intentionally taking the most constraining parts of the feminine, good-girl aesthetic, inflating them to a cartoon level, and subverting them to kill any ingrained insecurities. It was about taking back the power and screaming, “You want the female sex? Here you go. Here it all is. You can’t even handle it.” It was about power.” (source)

gloomth girl style

If any of this sounds familiar to the way many subculture styles (including that of Gloomth Girls) it’s no coincidence. Even lolita is a magnification of an ideal, an inflated antique style reminiscent of delicate dolls- but it’s wearers are anything but delicate, it takes courage to not fit in. As you know! (Obviously lolita doesn’t adopt the sexual undertones “Kinderwhore” did). Even fairy-kei is a pastel girlish dream. These styles take hyper feminine aspects and blow them up, they’re worn for the wearer and not for the audience. Definitely not chosen for the male gaze or to seem sexy. And that’s very important!

Women have always been told to dress to “hide” imperfections or in ways to appear smaller, more delicate, and more sexy- dressing to attract a mate. When your entire life is dictated by trying to please others with every possible choice it certainly shrinks you down. These alternative styles are crucial as they are about pleasing yourself and not others. Of prioritizing yourself.

Kinderwhore is a style that’s always clung to my personal wardrobe (old habits don’t die) and has definitely influenced my design work. Gloomth Girls are a little more formal, blended with historical and gothic tendencies our girlish youthful cocktail becomes something a bit more sinister and deathly.

I could write an endless essay on the importance of alternative styles in pushing society forward but I’ll refrain, change comes from those who don’t follow the crowd and it always has.


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