A lipstick lesbian is slang for a lesbian or a bisexual woman who exhibits a greater amount of feminine gender attributes relative to other gender expressions, such as wearing make-up (thus, lipstick), wearing dresses or skirts and having other characteristics associated with feminine women.
The term lipstick lesbian was used in San Francisco at least as far back as the 1980s. In 1982, Priscilla Rhoades, a journalist with the gay newspaper The Sentinel, wrote a feature story on "Lesbians for Lipstick". In 1990, the gay newspaper OutWeek covered the Lesbian Ladies Society, a Washington, D.C.–based social group of "feminine lesbians" that required women to wear a dress or skirt to its functions. The term is thought to have emerged in wide usage during the early 1990s. A 1997 episode of the television show Ellen widely publicized the phrase. In the show, Ellen DeGeneres's character, asked by her parents whether a certain woman is a "dipstick lesbian", explains that the term is lipstick lesbian, and comments that "I would be a chapstick lesbian." An alternate term for lipstick lesbian is doilydyke.
According to Penny Marshall of the Daily Mail, the term lipstick lesbian is used to imply either a curiosity, or a willingness to entertain for attention, or shock, in public. Marshall claims lipstick lesbianism was exemplified during the 2003 MTV Awards in which US pop singers Britney Spears, Madonna and Christina Aguilera kissed.