Salon September 14, 2021: Making Digital Glamour: Queer Femme Internet Aesthetics

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Abstract (in English): 

This fun, playful, one-hour workshop explores the queer femme aesthetic--and all are welcome!  What’s a queer femme aesthetic? I conceptualize it as a hyper-saturated, self-conscious, postmodern, performative femininity. Glitter, sequins, lip gloss, nail polish, dELiA*s magazine, ‘90s neon pink and slime green. Digitally, the queer femme aesthetic was innovated in spaces like Tumblr and MySpace, with tools like Blingee and Angelfire Dollz. Of course, there is no one definition of a queer/femme digital aesthetic, though I’d argue that the nail polish emoji is pretty key! Queer femme internet aesthetics often intentionally subvert minimalist design principles and usability heuristics, making the user aware of the platform/medium rather than concealing it. Building on the “Queer & Femme Digital Literature” panel that I chaired at AWP 2020, featuring Sarah Ciston, Sam Cohen, Kate Durbin, Feliz Lucia Molina, and Sandra Rosales (, we’ll  discuss these multimedia aesthetics in a literary context.

Then, we’ll experience digital femme history and culture firsthand through the embodied limitations and affordances of using web 1.0 technology: we will make an old-fashioned glitter GIF. Although the 1.0 Blingee aesthetics are echoed in contemporary Instagram and Snapchat stickers, we’ll use one of the “original” platforms, clunky by our current standards, to experience not only the aesthetics but also the tools and techniques inherent to the platform that enabled those aesthetics. Since the Blingee platform, developed in 2006, is no longer functional, we’ll use the open-access platform GlitterPhoto (, developed in 2003. Finally, we’ll share our creations and think together toward queer femme digital aesthetic futures.

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Hannah Ackermans