Dove Cameron recalls 'doing a lot of performative femininity’ when she was younger: 'I didn't let myself explore'

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Dove Cameron loves to express herself through fashion, but that wasn't always the case.

In an interview with InStyle, the singer-songwriter, 26, opened up about fully embracing her queer identity since coming out, explaining how that journey continues to inspire her fashion choices.

"It's always been a huge part of my true expression to be super masculine meets feminine," Cameron said of her aesthetic. "I definitely love androgyny that I didn't let myself explore before. I was doing a lot of performative femininity when I was younger that was very trapping and very diminishing."

The "Boyfriend" singer came out as queer in 2020 during an Instagram livestream and has since used her platform to elevate issues that matter most to her, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. When she took home the award for Best New Artist at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, she thanked "all of the queer kids out there" who made her success possible.

In recent months, the former Disney star has been exploring all sides of herself on the red carpet, though, admittedly, she didn't always feel so confident.

"If you look at pictures of me from when I was younger when I was on red carpets, there's like no one home behind the eyes," she explained to InStyle. "It's very pained, very much like I'm just trying to be the smallest, happiest, sweetest, most uneventful person there."

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Dove Cameron attends the Disney Channel Kids Upfront 2013 at Hudson Theatre on March 12, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Dove Cameron attends the Disney Channel Kids Upfront 2013 at Hudson Theatre on March 12, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)

As she grows as an artist, Cameron says she's been enjoying coming out of her shell.

"When I was younger, I used to dress up as like, the male villains and go to school," she shared of her childhood. "I would Sharpie my face like Jack Skeleton or I would take off the little plastic fork tips and tape them around my nails like Wolverine. I used to do my face like the Joker. I just always had this villain thing that I really loved. I love the feeling of lengthening clothing that I can move in because it feels like dark water. The emotion feels powerful. It's not about being tall to be beautiful; it's about being tall to be scary."

Nowadays, she hopes this era in her life can be a "starting point" for her to be unafraid to make bolder fashion choices that reflect "the artist that I feel that I am now."

"We're in an era, especially now, where I think it's important to make a political statement everywhere you go," she said. "I'm hoping to make a statement in support of women's issues these days and being pro-choice and pro-abortion, and just showing solidarity."

Cameron has spoken in the past about how having important conversations around identity has been life changing.

"I honestly look back at that first initial foray into the conversation about my sexuality as my first time ever really being myself publicly," she told E! News in June. "I think there's this narrative where if you are a queer person and you speak about your identity, its though you've been sitting on a secret your whole life and it's this big revelation. Where in my experience, it wasn't a revelation. I always knew who I was. Ever since I can remember, I knew I was queer."

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