Struggling with my lesbian daughter losing her femininity

(40 Posts)
ferniegirl Sat 23-Mar-13 00:02:52

My 19 yr old daughter came out when she was 15 and it has taken me a while to fully come to terms with it. I always supported her and was welcoming to her girlfriends but I did struggle. One of the main reasons is that she is stunningly beautiful, a real head turner and that always made me proud, shallow I know but that is how I felt. She then announced that she was sick of guys hitting on her and was going to have her (long blonde) hair cut short. I felt a bit upset at this but she went ahead and although it was completely different it did suit her. Then the other day she had it cut again, even shorter and itlooks bloody awful, shaved up the back and totally brutal. I hate it and my husband hates it too. As he said "it seems she is doing her utmost to look as unnattractive as possible".

She also shops at Topman and even wears boxer shorts.She looks like a bloke.

My heart is broken. I love her so much but this masculine thingis killing me and I dont know how to get over it. I would love some support from other mums of gay girls. Thanks!

JennyPiccolo Sat 23-Mar-13 00:08:12

My dd is only 2 but I have a lot of gay friends, some dress more masculine than others. Some not at all.

Your daughter is 19. She won't always look the way she does or dress the way she does. When I was 19 I had bleach blonde dreadlocks. She's still a teenager and experimenting with how she wants the world to perceive her. I really wouldn't try to make a big issue of it. She needs to know you love her anyway. She will probably change her look again, but if she doesn't, it's her choice.

AllPurposeNortherner Sat 23-Mar-13 00:08:28

Is there any possibility that she might be having doubts about her gender? Obviously how she dresses and has her hair is her own business, but dressing in mens clothes and getting a mens haircut seem quite extreme.

Then again, I dress in mens clothes sometimes and I'm definitely female.

How sad that you care so much about your daughter's appearance and "femininity" (which is nothing more than a social construct). She's 19, she's exploring her identity like any teen, gay or straight. Just be there for her, she'll find her true self eventually. And even if she does stay as "masculine" as she us now, surely as long as she's comfortable in her own skin, you should be happy for her?

LuisGarcia Sat 23-Mar-13 00:18:08

Her haircut choice is breaking your heart?

Really?

I think you need to realise that this is all about you and nothing to do with her. Have you considered getting counselling to help you come to terms with your discomfort with her sexuality and appearance, and these unfair expectations you have of her?

AllPurposeNortherner Sat 23-Mar-13 00:24:45

I hope you aren't letting her know how you feel, btw...

SingingSands Sat 23-Mar-13 00:30:53

The OP doesn't have unfair expectations, it sounds more like a form of grief. It is hard watching a loved one change, and I'm sure the OP loves and supports her daughter, but feels conflicted by the person she 'used' to be or 'might' have been, compared to the person she is becoming now.

Jennypicolo gives good advice upthread - your daughter is young, changing, forging her identity. This is exiting for her, but scary for you.

alwayslateforwork Sat 23-Mar-13 00:37:14

When I was 19 I had long beautiful wavy hair.

I was also a cadet and spent most of my spare time wearing combats and boots with my hair scraped back in a tight bun. Even when not in uniform I wore doc martens. This isn't new.

In the intervening years I have oscillated between hair to my waist, and a pixie cut.

I am actually speechless that your heart is broken for such a shallow reason. You're okay with her sexuality, etc etc, but devastated because she got her hair cut and wears boxers?

Get a grip.

I am hugely in favour of flauting stupid gendered rules like 'girls have to wear panties' and 'only boys can have short hair'.

You can't seriously be heartbroken because she has the sense to see past such gendered bullshit?

I could understand if you were concerned that she would be drawing unnecessary cultural criticism, and making life harder for herself because she has chosen (at this moment) not to toe the farcical cultural line. But no, it's just that she is exploring what is culturally labeled the masculine.

Good for her, whatever she chooses to do in the future. More people need to understand that femininity and masculinity are entirely culturally constructed, and start blurring (and erasing) the lines.

I'm entirely straight, by the way. You don't have to be a lesbian to be pissed off that you are supposed to dress and look a certain way to garner male attention.

I'm also happily married, with three children, before any unnecessary stereotypes about bitter old hags get dragged out. I can gussy up. If I want to.

BestIsWest Sat 23-Mar-13 00:42:37

Actually OP, I sympathise with you. I'd be the same. Whilst we love our children and accept what they are, we still have to come to terms with their choices. It takes time and I think some of the other posters are being a bit harsh. All we can do is love them. We can't control them. That doesn't mean we aren't allowed feelings of our own.

Startail Sat 23-Mar-13 00:43:02

Shallow it maybe, but I'd hate DD quite a lot if she did that to her beautiful hair.

HotheadPaisan Sat 23-Mar-13 00:48:25

Would you really hate your DD because of a haircut, that's a bit much.

I did all this too, became estranged from my parents etc etc, cut my hair off and dyed it black, looked awful. I look respectable now but still have very short hair.

It is very hard coming out, don't make it harder for her.

LuisGarcia Sat 23-Mar-13 00:50:06

I'd hate DD quite a lot if she did that to her beautiful hair

Yowser

BigSpork Sat 23-Mar-13 01:28:09

I had this when I was a teen - I had a very masculine time period and my parents hated it. Would not stop going on about it - especially about my hair. Even after I left home I would get remarks about how I would look so much better if my hair was like it was when I was little (blonde and styled rather than it's natural charcoal brown). Part of the reason for it was I felt safer in a lot of places if I passed as male, particularly when I started doing classes that let out after dark down town and harassed by quite a few men, and partially because my masculine side is part of who I am and I enjoy expressing it which I hadn't been able to do until then so glutted for a while. My parents didn't seem to understand this, both had very rigid ideas of who I should be and my mother particularly had very odd ideas about how I should be after I came out to her.

Since then, I've settled in a more feminine public style: no make-up or heels, but prefer skirts and about half my shirts are girly and quite feminine bright green glasses. But I still wear my hair it's natural dark colour and since then I've began covering it in cloth tie caps. I like how I look in them...and I like taking my hair out of the public picture where it was drama for so long.

And since then I've had no real relationship with my parents. Funny that. Haven't seen them in over 9 years, I can't take their drama and they can't make an effort.

differentnameforthis Sat 23-Mar-13 05:52:54

but I'd hate DD quite a lot if she did that to her beautiful hair

shock

Branleuse Sat 23-Mar-13 06:10:56
Branleuse Sat 23-Mar-13 06:12:12

I hope you realise that its your attitude that needs to change. Not her appearance

bigredbook Sat 23-Mar-13 06:23:34

I do sympathise with you and I think that I might feel some of what you are feeling if my daughter did this. BUT as posters have already said this is something that you have to deal with as your issue, not hers.

Also, bear in mind there are thousands of parents of teenagers in the UK who don't like the way their children dress, cut/colour their hair/pierce things/tattoo. Try and look at it that way - she is young and trying to find her identity. I can promise you that at the age of 32 I don't wear the clothes I wore when I was 19 ;)

I do understand but really its just not worth getting worked up about.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 23-Mar-13 06:26:36

It's a small, cosmetic and reversible change, should she choose to change her mind.
Are you really that shallow? is your love for your daughter based on her appearance?
That's horrifying.

kernowmissvyghen Sat 23-Mar-13 07:58:20

There's no need to give the OP such a kicking. She's said she lover her daughter. She's posting for help and support about something she's struggling with. She hasn't posted in AIBU.

OP, I think I understand where you're coming from. Your daughter seems to be rejecting a part of herself (her external appearance) that you treasure and have taken a lot of pleasure from over the years.

Are you worried about how her new appearance is going to affect how others treat her? At 19 she is unlikely to be settled in a long term job yet- are you worrying about the impression created at job interviews etc?

I am not wise enough to offer advice, but it might help to unpick exactly what is upsetting you, and maybe work through it in your mind or on here (maybe not in this thread given the unhelpful comments you've had so far...)

Also, remember that there are lots of far more dangerous and harmful ways for a teenager to rebel against the world! I think there are many mothers who would swap their teenager's drug problem, say, for short hair and unconventional pants smile

nkf Sat 23-Mar-13 08:07:00

It's not forever. I think you are mourning something you have lost, some idea of what your daughter would be like. I imagine there are resources that will offer you some very specific support. I think MN is a bit too much of a catch all for this sort of post. But I may be wrong.

ferniegirl Sat 23-Mar-13 09:57:24

Thank you all for your replies but I am shocked at the judgement I have received on here. Some of you are right, it feels like a loss and I am struggling to find out why. Yes I am in counselling, no I have not hurt her by telling her how I feel. I love her. I will not be posting here again and will delete my account. I am literally shaking. Thank you to the lovely people who have been supportive and tried to understand.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 23-Mar-13 10:59:42

My mother has spent the best part of my life trying to 'fix' me. In my late 30s, after a huge row over shoes she has either realised that either I am not broken or she has simply given up. I suspect the latter. I know that I don't conform to her idea of pretty and tbh it does hurt, but not nearly as much as denying my own sense of self would.

hazelnutcoffee Thu 04-Apr-13 16:55:24

Hey OP,

A lot of why she has done this is because she is exploring her identity, and what it means to fit in with being in the lesbian community. I did the same thing when I was her age - thinking that I needed to dress and act a certain way if I was to be accepted by the LGBT community (I needed to 'look' like a lesbian). As she gets older, hopefully she'll realise she can look however she likes, though that may mean she presents in a butch/masculine way or a femme/feminine way. This is part of the process of learning who she is and how she wants other people to perceive her. She probably wants to make a statement about her identity right now, and she may or may not feel the need to carry on doing that as she grows up.

Just wanted to point out in your message two things that I think link together:

She then announced that she was sick of guys hitting on her...
and
[her father] said "it seems she is doing her utmost to look as unattractive as possible".

If her male role-model is saying she seems to be making herself unattractive (to men), and she's tired of getting hit on by men, it makes sense that this is part of the reason for her wanting to do this. Again, I did the same thing at her age.... and boys certainly left me alone!

colditz Thu 04-Apr-13 17:00:46

She doesn't want to look attractive to heterosexual men, she wants to look attractive to lesbians, because she is a lesbian. What her father perceives as attractive to him will be exactly what she is trying to avoid, so as to be basically invisible to the men mithering her throughout out her teens.

It must feel very liberating to avoid the all consuming male gaze whilst still being attractive to the people she finds attractive, I actually envy her.

DianaTrent Thu 04-Apr-13 17:35:12

It's OK to miss the old identity of someone when their appearance changes, OP. My DD has been totally bald three times, so I know what that aspect of it looks like, but you need to get a hug from someone and then get a hold on it quickly and focus on your DD as a person. Life is too short and people pick up more than you think about your attitude to them.

As for this :

but I'd hate DD quite a lot if she did that to her beautiful hair

I have no words for how sick attitudes like that make me.

Pancakeflipper Thu 04-Apr-13 17:42:12

Ferniegirl - just hide this thread if it's upsetting you but don't go.

I can understand it hurting seeing things you thought were gorgeous disappearing. But the majority of teens make drastic changes to their appearance for various reasons . Appearances change and she'll continue changing. Some you will like, some you won't. Just keep on supporting her Ferniegirl.

EggsEggSplat Thu 04-Apr-13 17:58:57

I am straight, but in my mid-late teens went from long hair and Laura Ashley dresses to short and spiky hair, wore DMs and trousers/dungarees, bought men's shirts and coats in Oxfam shops etc. I don't think my parents much liked my style at the time, but quite sensibly they didn't make a fuss about it - it was only superficial, and their main concern, quite rightly, was that I was growing up happy and self-confident.

I now in my 40s and have long hair again, but still don't do make-up or heels, and very rarely skirts.

I can see that I your case it is your feelings about how she looks are all tied up with your daughter's sexuality, but really I think most teenagers go through major image changes which their parents disapprove of. A lot of them at this age are doing much more extreme things involving permanent changes, like tattoos and piercings, so your daughter's changes, which are all reversible, sound relatively mild. What is going on underneath is much more important, as is your attitude and support for her, even if you don't like how she looks.

Fairylea Thu 04-Apr-13 18:06:40

Possibly her "look" has nothing to do with her sexuality anyway. Lots of lesbians dress and look extremely feminine! And the other way round... I am heterosexual but when I was 18 I wore big baggy men's tracksuit bottoms and had my very very long hair cut off to nearly a shave length all over my head... ! I was just experimenting with my look.

Her look may or may not change as she gets older. I'd just ignore as much as possible. And try and separate it from her sexuality as I think (pot psychology) you're still coming to terms with it so the outward change that you perceive to be because of her being lesbian is sort of smacking you in the face with it, you feel you can't ignore it. Maybe you need to try to be more open about the whole situation and then you.might not worry so much about her appearance.

Butterflywgs Sun 23-Jun-13 23:56:50

I can entirely agree with the posts criticising - not kicking imo - the OP.
OP, hi, I don't intend this post to be nasty. I am 32, present averagely feminine, bisexual. But I don't think your dd's sexuality is even the issue. At your dd's age, I got guilt-trips from my mother for not wearing my 'beautiful' hair down. My hair is thick and wavy, not in a good way, it easily gets very big and frizzy, and is very, very difficult to control. I couldn't be bothered spending hours on it. That was my choice. The point is, she's 19 and you don't get to tell her how to look.
This stuff about her 'breaking your heart' etc is over-dramatic and manipulative to be quite honest. I had this from my dm whenever I did something she didn't like and while I am sure she didn't intend it to, it has damaged me.
Also thoroughly agree with some of the above that gender is just a social construct.

chipmonkey Mon 24-Jun-13 01:15:47

She's 19! At that age my sister went through a phase of Mohicans, Curehead, styles, army boots, dressing only in black. She always looked different and sometimes she looked terrible!grin My sister isn't gay, by the way, just a bit arty-farty.
She's now 41 and looks and dresses mostly like a normal person with just a hint of goth thrown in and still turns heads. She rarely wears make-up but she doesn't need it.

What you are mourning is not your daughter, she's still there. ( I envy you that, by the way, as my only daughter died aged 7 weeks) What you are mourning is the image of a daughter that you had. My dd was born after four boys and I have to admit, for all the time that she lived, she was swamped in pink! But in the back of my head, I thought that given that she had four older brothers she might very well rebel aged five and refuse to go down the pink aisle in the toy store. Sadly, we never found out.

I think you have done well not to voice these thoughts. Let her know you are always on her side, she'll find her own way.

BangOn Mon 24-Jun-13 20:18:08

I think what your daughter's doing sounds quite positive & interesting actually. Making a conscious effort not to confom to arbitrary gender sterotypes, rebelling against the way female self image is entirely geared around male sexuality & experiencing liberation from unwanted male attentio - now this is a social experiment mn should encouraging all women to try, maybe just for a few months, or weeks even.

Optimist1 Mon 24-Jun-13 20:38:17

Too late, people, OP has deleted her profile. I tried to PM her with some personal experiences that might have helped.

queddu6 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:38:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

DalePie Mon 26-Aug-13 21:27:04

I'm a gay guy in my 30's so been around the block so to speak smile

The modern "butch" look is exactly what your DD is aspiring to at the moment. It's a look I see quite frequently in young lesbian girls with the 3/4 length shorts and t-shirt thing. It's an accepted way for some lesbians to dress within the gay scene.

I can understand why they might do it. Some straight males don't take no for an answer and this unofficial lesbian uniform acts as a barrier to male advances. There is also a case of "This is my thing and i'm gonna rock it" going on. Especially with people who have recently discovered they are gay.

Please don't panic! As with all things we do in our youth the novelty wears off! Think of all the daft fashion trends you might have had when you were young. This look is no different, she will grow up, being gay will just be part of who she is and not warrant any special dress code and she will most likely become a very classy young lady!

So hang in there, it will work out in the end!

SilverApples Mon 26-Aug-13 21:32:52

ZOMBIE THREAD!

2mums1teen Fri 07-Feb-14 22:17:08

As soon as i saw this topic i instantly thought of my wife Nade. She is seen as a boy by so many people because of her short hair, small frame and baggy clothes, but just because she appears a certain way on the outside definitely doesn't mean she's not a big girl on the inside grin.

2mums1teen Fri 07-Feb-14 22:21:48

I really should read previous discussions before typing blush

Reiltin Fri 07-Feb-14 22:25:09

You're only thinking in terms of one standard of beauty. In the lesbian community, there are different looks that are seen as traditionally 'sexy '. It sounds like she's fitting in just right grin

22honey Sun 18-May-14 22:06:22

'She doesn't want to look attractive to heterosexual men, she wants to look attractive to lesbians, because she is a lesbian. What her father perceives as attractive to him will be exactly what she is trying to avoid, so as to be basically invisible to the men mithering her throughout out her teens.'

I agree, as an attractive looking teen all the attention you get off men really is god awful and tedious. I'm 22 now and been sick of it for a long time so badly I actively make myself look unnattractive when I go out doing mundane things to avoid it and Im not even a lesbian, just in a LTR and not interested in attention from other males.

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