Aesthetics Wiki

Riot Grrrl, sometimes also known as Kinderwhore, was a clothing style worn by a handful of predominantly female Punk bands in the United States during the early to mid-1990s.

The exact origin of this style is uncertain. It's often thought that Kat Bjelland from the band Babes in Toyland was the first to wear and define the look, while her former roommate Courtney Love from the band HOLE was the first to popularize it.

Courtney Love, who popularized Riot Grrrl, commented in 1994 that 'I would like to think—in my heart of hearts—that I'm changing some psychosexual aspects of rock music. Not that I'm so desirable. I didn't do the kinder-whore thing because I thought I was so hot. When I see the look used to make one more appealing, it pisses me off. When I started, it was a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? thing. My angle was irony.'

The name 'Kinderwhore' was coined by melody maker journalist Everett True in an interview with Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love (1993). The term was mostly used by the media and less by the musicians themselves. Despite the name, the aesthetic has nothing to do with child prostitution. The term comes from the word "kinder" (meaning "children" in German), and "whore," (slang for a prostitute or sexually promiscuous person (usually female)). The name does not refer to a child prostitute, rather a child and a prostitute, as in two separate archetypes: an innocent child on one side, and a corrupted woman on the other. One interpretation is that it enables women to "take their innocence back".

A often mentioned inspiration for the style are the musicians Kim Shattuck of the band The Muffs, Christine Amphlett of the band Divinyls or Katie Jane Garside of the band Daisy Chainsaw.

The Riot Grrrl fashion became a source of inspiration for many designers, such as Hedi Slimane, Batsheva Hay, and even Marc Jacobs. In 2019, Batsheva Hay named Courtney Love's “kinderwhore aesthetic” as a big inspiration.  Hay said the look was "so of its time, but also so ahead of its time". Dark Nymphet and Morute are both heavily inspired by Kinderwhore.


Riot Grrrl fashion was designed to take the most "feminine" aspects of gender roles, inflate them to a cartoonish level, and subvert it all into the rawest, angriest, most badass way possible, where they were not afraid to get as aggressive and confident on stage as their counterparts in the mostly male dominated Grunge scene. Some elements of Kinderwhore fashion include:

  • peter pan collars
  • babydoll dresses
  • slip dresses
  • mary jane shoes
  • combat boots
  • platform shoes
  • ripped tights
  • messy makeup
  • red lipstick
  • messy hair
  • bleached blonde hair
  • hair barrettes
  • ribbons
  • soft, pastel colors and materials paired with dark colors
  • black accessories
  • lace dresses or dresses with lace accents and cute details
  • cardigans
  • faux fur coats
  • leather jackets
  • kneesocks
  • lace socks
  • heels
  • chokers, chains, etc

Clothing can most easily be found in charity or thrift shops, or can be DIYed. Since Riot Grrrl is a style within Grunge, the goal is to not look neat and tidy, damaged clothing is better to use to achieve this specific look.

The Riot Grrrl fashion has resurged in recent years due to social media sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest, with creators like Lipst1ckteeth.

Fairy Grunge is a similar style where the wearer doesn't seem as interested in subverting gender norms, but instead just appreciates the aesthetic appeal of the contrast that Kinderwhore set out to accomplish. Fairy Grunge is used to make oneself look more appealing in a way that clashes with Kinderwhore's philosophy, and therefore cannot be called Kinderwhore.


Musically, Riot Grrrl fit right alongside their male counterparts in the Grunge scene, taking the world by storm in the 1990s. Some popular Kinderwhore* bands and artists include:

  • Bikini Kill
  • Bratmobile
  • Babes in Toyland
  • Hole
  • L7
  • Jack off Jill
  • Shampoo
  • 7 Year Bytch and Babes
  • Excuse 17
  • Fabulous Disaster
  • Go Betty Go
  • Jill Sobule
  • Lunachicks
  • The Dollyrots
  • The Muffs
  • Margaritas Podridas/Rotten Daisies
  • Mommy Long Legs

​* Please note there aren´t really any self-proclaimed 'kinderwhore' artists/musicians, since the term was made by the media to refer to it as a style of fashion!


External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic.

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