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A lipstick lesbian is a lesbian who dresses and acts in a manner that is considered conventionally feminine (for instance, wearing lipstick). Main-character lesbians on TV tend to fall into this category more often, as it's often seen as "safer", unless the show is going for "edgy". They also often have things like long fingernails, unlike their more masculine counterpart.
A related term is "femme". However, the implication is that, while a "femme" would be attracted to a "butch", lipstick lesbians are attracted to others of the same type. Also note that in LGBT communities, lipstick lesbians tend to be described as 'more feminine' than average straight women or whose expression of femininity is 'over-the-top'. Ellen DeGeneres jokingly coined the term "chapstick lesbian" to describe those who fall somewhere in between the two extremes of "lipstick" and "butch".
The real life proportion of lesbians that are lipstick lesbians is somewhat lower than what one might expect from watching television. The reasons for this proportional over-representation can include Fan Service (because Girl-On-Girl Is Hot), wanting to avert the stereotype of Butch Lesbian (and the Unfortunate Implications that non-heterosexuals are "gender inverted"), wanting to present a lesbian character that won't "intimidate" viewers, and also wanting to avoid making said lesbian character's sexuality an excessively large issue by presenting her as a person who just happens to be attracted to other women.
Related to the opposite of Butch Lesbian, a high femme. Related to, and their frequent representation is perhaps a direct result of, Girl-On-Girl Is Hot. See Schoolgirl Lesbians, another form of catering to Yuri Fanboys via character type. Lipstick lesbians who don't take the "girliness" to extremes can be seen as Distaff Counterpart to the male Straight Gay, while ones who do, depending on your perspective, can either be seen as counterparts to the Manly Gay (in terms of over-emphasizing the "expected" characteristics of their sex) or the Camp Gay (in terms of going whole-hog into "femininity").
Anime & Manga
- Michiru Kaioh from Sailor Moon; however, with her girlfriend being the more masculine Haruka, some might say it would be more accurate to describe her as 'femme'. Naturally, most international dubs attempted to censor this aspect of her character.
- Yasuna from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, sort of. Hazumu likely counts too.
- Possibly Minto of Tokyo Mew Mew, but when she says she loves Zakuro it could mean either romantic love or just the obsessive admiration for the celebrity and Onee-Sama, and she's clearly into boys too.
- On the other hand, there's no other explanation for Corina from the English dub, and unlike Minto, she shows no interest in boys at all.
- Lavinia from Soukou no Strain. Bunny suit, anyone? And let's not get started on episode seven.
- Akko and Mari from Girl Friends. Particularly prevalent since much of the plot includes shopping for clothes, getting makeovers, and hairstyling.
- Hazuki from Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito, who has long billowy black hair, a pretty seifuku, stunning blue eyes, and is just slightly gayer than an entire pride parade reenacting the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The object of her affections is even more feminine, though bi- or pan-sexual.
- Yamato from Loveless acts as the more "femme" of the female Zeroes, as opposed to her fighter Koya.
- Pretty much every character in Strawberry Panic except Amane.
- Himeko and Chikane in Kannazuki no Miko though Himeko is arguably bisexual.
- Arguably most of the Mariasama ga Miteru cast.
- To the Pokémon fandom, Candice in the anime, and games to a degree, comes off as this.
- Iono the Fanatics is overflowing, with Iono-sama leading the pack/harem. Actually, almost every female ever drawn by Miyabi Fujieda fits in here.
- EL has Parsley, the super-feminine pop idol who has a crush on her female police-officer bodyguard, El.
- Nobara Yukinokouji from Inu × Boku SS is an attractive woman who works as a bodyguard, and tells Ririchiyo that she would love to be in a sexual relationship with her. She also demonstrates her more feminine aspects by helping Ririchiyo with her hair in episode 3.
- Every lesbian in the works of Chi-Ran.
- Ren of Poor Poor Lips, an out of the closet lesbian who's also every bit The Ojou.
- DC Comics's current Batwoman is a Lipstick Lesbian. She was 'outed' in a cunningly-written magazine interview several months before the character premiered, and her first comic appearance was in a stunning party dress that caused jaws to drop both in and out of the comic.
- Her portrayal changed somewhat between Fifty Two and her stint in Detective Comics. In the latter, she was established as having been in the army and wearing a wig in costume to hide her short hair.
- Karolina Dean of Runaways qualifies as well.
- Sydney Krukowski from Dykes to Watch Out For refers to herself as femme, although the way she looks and acts isn't that different from her girlfriend Mo (who is sometimes considered Butch Lesbian.)
- Victoria Hand
- Kato in Dynamite Entertainment's modern-day Green Hornet book.
- Thunder from Batman and the Outsiders.
- In the Bluntman and Chronic comics, based on the Comic Book Within A Show of the same name from the View Askewniverse movies, one of their nemeses is a lesbian called the Lipstick Lesbian.
- Sarah Rainmaker, from Gen 13
- Gianna of Luminosity is this to the extent that no one notices until a female vampire mate-bonds to her. This was intentional on her part, though she doesn't change at all when she gets in an open relationship.
- Judy Squires in Better Than Chocolate, who is also a transwoman. Frances, the woman she's in love with, is more of a "chapstick lesbian". Maggie, the main character, is pretty femme-y as well.
- Luce in Imagine Me and You.
- Annabelle and Simone in Loving Annabelle.
- Emily in Pretty Persuasion.
- Lucille from Sin City.
Marv: Lucille's my parole officer. She's a dyke, but God knows why. With that body of hers she could have any man she wants.
- Megan and Hilary in But I'm a Cheerleader.
- Felice and Lilly in Aimee and Jaguar.
- Though she does get into male drag on one occasion, as the real-life Felice sometimes did.
- Max in Go Fish (played by real-life lipstick lesbian Guinevere Turner).
- Evie in The Incredible Adventures of Two Girls in Love.
- Margaret and Selina in Affinity.
- Reena in Chutney Popcorn.
- Paulie and Tori in Lost and Delirious.
- Nina and Lisa in Nina's Heavenly Delights.
- Alex Fisher in The Women.
- Danni in Love and other Catastrophes.
- Elin in Show Me Love (her love interest Agnes is too tomboyish to completely qualify).
- Linda and her friends in If These Walls Could Talk 2.
- Violet in Bound.
- The Amber Smith character in Private Parts.
- Miss Blue Rain from Precious.
- Amy and Lucy, the main couple from D.E.B.S. fit this character trope. Ninotchka, Lucy's unsuccessful blind date also fits.
- Valerie in V for Vendetta.
- Ricki from Gigli.
- Polly from May.
- Improbably, as is pointed out by some of the characters — including herself, Jacyl from Black Dogs. As an elven scout she's often weeks or months on end in the wilderness with no hot baths and limited pack space, yet she needs to carry several different outfits and makeup along with her. Her former guardian remarked that he first came across her while her house was burning down and that despite this, she was attempting to save her dresses. Her partner is the Butch Lesbian, Sinai.
- Felicity Worthington, from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, behaves like an proper Victorian girl. There are very few hints about her true sexual orientation (subtext only). However, it is revealed in The Sweet Far Thing that she is in fact a lesbian and was in love with Pippa Cross. Probably due to the attitude of the time, she views this part of her with contempt and is in the closet about it; she seems to think that this means there is something wrong with her. Pippa may be another example, although she also expresses interest in boys, so she's probably closer to Bi the Way or If It's You It's Okay.
- In the novelization of Baldur's Gate, it was revealed that Imoen is one.
- In Odd Girl Out, published in 1957, the feminine Laura initially doesn't believe she can be a lesbian because she knows about homosexuals--"the men were great sissies, and the women wore pants."
- Several in Mary Renault: Valentine in Purposes of Love, Helen in The Friendly Young Ladies, Lasthenia in The Mask of Apollo. Valentine, though, is bisexual, or basically straight but going through a phase. Helen, on the other hand, is more certain of her lesbianism than is her butch lover, Leo.
- Season 4 of Heroes has Gretchen and Claire. Although this is more of an example of Lipstick bisexuals.
- Linda in Seacht.
- Alex and her fiance Lisa from Mistresses.
- Tipping the Velvet had Kitty (when she wasn't dressed as a man for her Music Hall act), Mrs Lethaby, Florence and Zena. The protagonist Nan starts off as a lipstick lesbian but becomes increasingly butch as the story continues
- Zoe Tate and most of her girlfriends from Emmerdale.
- Edie from Six Feet Under.
- Lana from Neighbours.
- Emily, Naomi and Sophia from Skins.
- And in Gen 3, Mini is turning out to be this, or at least a Lipstick Bisexual.
- Binnie and Della from Eastenders.
- Helen Stuart, Cassie Tyler, Roisin Connor and Serena Geeson from Bad Girls.
- Bianca and Maggie from All My Children.
- Helena Cain from Battlestar Galactica is on the far "chapstick" end of this (considering that she's a Goddamn admiral, and a hardassed one at that, she's naturally adopted some distinctly masculine mannerisms).
- Helena Cain doesn't have masculine characteristics, she's a strict and harsh person. This happens — Marilla from Anne of Green Gables. Also, she's not really shown before the Cylons attacked, so we don't know — maybe she was like this at 18, rather than picking it up from military culture.
- Jaye's sister Sharon in Wonderfalls.
- Many characters in The L Word, which makes the occasional guest spots by real-life celebrity lesbians all the more jarring: they never look as Hollywood-feminine as the main characters.
- Guinevere Turner as Gaby Deveaux, Clementine Ford as Molly Kroll and Leisha Hailey as Alice Pieczecki are all as Hollywood-feminine as any of the straight or bisexual actresses on the show.
- Laura Dern as "Susan" in the "outing" episodes of Ellen.
- Spencer and Ashley's relationship in South of Nowhere takes up a considerable amount of attention within the show.
- Charlotte and Gina from Holly Oaks.
- Jo from Waterloo Road.
- Urzula and Liberty from Footballers Wives.
- Simone from Passions.
- Willow, Tara and Kennedy (played by Lipstick Bisexual Iyari Limon) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though it's worth noting that seemingly everyone in Sunnydale is abnormally attractive. Willow lampshades this in "Once More With Feeling", admitting, "...I'm not big on the butch."
- "I'm not large with the butch."
- DC Jo Masters from The Bill has been described like this, although she doesn't really advertise it. Rather large in the chest department, she had Eddie (the male crime scene examiner) ask her on a date. She told him they'd go for a drink and she'd explain.
- Also Gemma Osbourne and lesbian call girl she had an affair with (played by Stacey from Hustle.
- Serena Southerlyn of Law & Order — though we only find this out 10 seconds before she leaves the show.
- Out Of Practice, a failed show on CBS, had a central character who screamed this trope to the heavens. She dressed provocatively, threw herself at women, and couldn't open her mouth without bringing up the topic of her sexuality.
- After her coming-out storyline, Beth Jordache from Brookside (played by Anna Friel) was labeled as a "lipstick lesbian" by the British media, receiving equal attention from young women and young men.
- Both Camille and her girlfriend in Stargate Universe are this.
- A minor character on an episode of Reba is one.
- Susan and Carol in Friends.
- One use for the Dolls in Dollhouse. Also Mag who is more of a chapstick lesbian. She has something akin to a coming-out scene in the Epitaphs comic.
- Mag is a survivor of a 'thoughtpocalypse' — I think it's more realistic than a question of her preference.
- Robin Gallagher from Desperate Housewives.
- Lindsay from Queer as Folk (played by bisexual actress Thea Gill).
- Susan from Seinfeld becomes this after she breaks up with George.
- Another case of Lipstick Bisexuals is Santana and Brittany from Glee.
- Resent episodes have made it clear that Santana is a closeted Lipstick Lesbian with a rather... straight-forward way to keep her sexuality secret.
- Angela Darmondy in Boardwalk Empire turns out to be one.
- She seems to be more of a case of Bi the Way--she still seems to enjoy sex with her husband Jimmy and has had presumably had threesomes with Mary and her husband. When asked if she was in love with Mary, she just replies "I was lonely."
- Sophie Webster and Sian Powers from Coronation Street.
- Josh's sister in the American version of Being Human.
- Fiona in Degrassi.
- Paige as well, when she was with Alex.
- Thirteen on House — or at least lipstick bisexual.
- Emily on the TV version of Pretty Little Liars, in the book series she was bisexual.
- Lauren on Lost Girl
- SHIMMER's Lacey and Rain occasionally hint at being this, though they generally stick to being Heterosexual Life Partners with plenty of Ho Yay.
- Ayako from Variable Geo.
- Rain Quinn in Fear Effect.
- Veronica from Fallout: New Vegas.
- Leliana from Dragon Age is a Lipstick Bisexual.
- Possibly Waitress Aurora in Pokémon Black and White, a character you go onto Ferris Wheel dates with if you play as Hilda. Her Japanese conversation mentions a boy, but the English version excludes that.
- Specialist Samantha Traynor in Mass Effect 3.
- Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo's entire cast.
- Lambdadelta from Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Cute Witch surrounded by pink and candy who only has eyes for fellow witch Bernkastel.
- Misha from Katawa Shoujo. She's very feminine and even has, explicitly dyed, pink hair and is a lesbian. She has deep issues over the fact.
- Jessica McIntyre of Loserz. See this strip.
- Both Lia and Fiona from YU+ME: dream are definitely feminine enough to be considered Lipstick Lesbians.
- Amber from Khaos Komix, with her perfect curls.
- Daphne from Penny and Aggie. Her girlfriend Sara sports a look that's part Butch Lesbian ( Boyish Short Hair and feminine-symbol jewelry) and part Lipstick Lesbian (appropriately, lipstick).
- More recently, main character Penny is a Lipstick Bisexual, while the other main character (and her girlfriend) Aggie is a lesbian but too much of a hipster to really count as 'Lipstick'.
- Kanaya from Homestuck, the troll's meddling Team Mom, is a lesbian and the only troll with an interest in fashion. Literally a Lipstick Lesbian in that her main weapon is a lipstick that sometimes transforms into a Chainsaw Good.
- Araceli from Out There.
- Adharia Kuvoe of Last Res0rt.
- Girly lesbians are the dominant type in Girls with Slingshots. All of the major lesbian or bisexual characters are prone to curves, makeup, and girly interests. Butch lesbians exist, but they have their own hangouts (one of which Jamie visits during her Coming Out Story arc).
- Decades of Darkness has Julia Gordon. And First Lady Anna Mitchell, which causes a scandal in Columbia (the US capital) and prevents her husband from reelected for a third term.
- Tatjana from the Chaos Timeline.
- Aster from Anyone but Me. Vivian is either this or a chapstick lesbian, depending on your perspective
- Whateley Universe: Bugs (Bunny Cormick) is regarded as one of the hottest girls at a Superhero School, but is strictly lesbian. She's not the only such girl in Poe Cottage.
- Kirsten from Rick and Steve, The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, is intentionally the stereotypical Lipstick Lesbian. Ironically, some people still mistake her for a man!
- Linda Memari of American Dad is possibly bisexual, but she seems to be far more interested in her neighbor Francine than in her husband.
- Sue Randell from Clarence.
- There has been much controversy over the possibility of lesbian subtext in Adventure Time, specifically between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline. If this is to be believed, Princess Bubblegum, who wears her hair long, likes to wear long dresses, and, um, is entirely pink would fit this trope.
- Asami from The Legend of Korra is a lipstick bisexual. In fact, she's probably the most feminine character in the whole series. Her eventual girlfriend Korra isn't really this, however.
- Dofus: The Treasures of Kerubim; Simone and her virtually-confirmed girlfriend Julie are both this trope.
- Sapphire from Steven Universe is a lipstick discount lesbian, being a feminine-looking alien who uses female pronouns, and who is in a romantic relationship with Ruby, another alien using female pronouns.
- Portia de Rossi. Meanwhile, her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, has jokingly referred to herself as a "chapstick lesbian".
- Guinevere Turner
- Amanda Moore
- Jill Bennett
- Sarah Paulson
- Tammy Lynn Michaels
- Jessica Clark
- Melissa Etheridge
- Clementine Ford
- (The recently deceased) Casey Johnson
- Kelli Carpenter-O'Donnell
- Cat Cora
- Ruby Rose and her (ex-)girlfriend supermodel Catherine Mc Neil.
- Beth Clayton (Opera Singer).
- Miss Cleo
- Slovak supermodel Yaya Kosikova
- Jane Hill (English newsreader)
- Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane
- Amanda Barrett from the Ditty Pops.
- Sophie Ward
- Katharine Cornell
- Warhol prodigy Mary Woronov.
- Adult actresses Tracey Adams and Julia Parton.
- Most of the lesbians on A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and A Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins.
- Ebony Haith, Lulu Braithwaite and former Hooters waitress Kayla Farell from America's Next Top Model and Nanna Grundfeldt winner of Finlands Next Top Model.
- Genesis Moss from The Real World: Boston — complete with a conversation where she explains this concept, by name, to a more conservative housemate — back when that's what the show was about.
- Kelly Mc Gillis and Chris Connor as young women (though by the time they publicly acknowledged their lesbianism their appearance had become much more androgynous)
- Tammy Bruce
- Most of the women featured on The Real L Word particularly Tracey Ryland and Nikki Weiss.
- Supermodel Gia Carangi, writer Ariel Levy and musicians Francesca Gregorini and Jill Jackson have aspects of the lipstick lesbian about them as they have long hair and are conventionally attractive but they are a little too tomboyish to completely qualify.
- Truth in Television: Leisha Hailey and Alexandra Hedison, who play lipstick lesbians Alice and Dylan on The L Word, are both femme lesbians whose famous dates are more often chapstick lesbians than butch.
- Jasika Nicole (Astrid Farnsworth on Fringe).
- Executive Producer and Oprah guest Carole Antouri the former girlfriend of The Real L Word star Nikki Weiss
- Playboy Playmate Stephanie Adams, though she identifies as bisexual.
- Big Brother contestant Anna Nolan.
- Chely Wright
- Singer Otep Shamaya and her supermodel girlfriend Djosefin Maurer.
- Brandi Carlile
- Stephanie Miller
- Angela Davis
- Meredith Baxter.
- Amber Heard.
- The 'dee' half of tom-dee couples in Thailand.
- Suzanne Westenhoefer ("I'm femme. I'm too femme. I'm so femme I'm fag.")
- Heather Matarazzo
- Danish Supermodel Freja Beha Erichsen.
- Within the first year or two of transition, most Transsexual lesbians are this. Whether this sticks around or not is dependent on personal taste.
- Katie Stelmanis