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We saw Gimli discussing dwarf women with Eowyn in the The Two Towers:

Gimli: It's true you don't see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for dwarf men.

Aragorn: [whispering] It's the beards.

Gimli: And this in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no dwarf women, and that dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground!

[Eowyn laughs]

Gimli: Which is, of course, ridiculous.

Is the theory that dwarf women look like dwarf men limited to the works of Tolkien?

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That scene is in The Two Towers, at least in the movie. I don't remember if that scene even occurred in the books. – Gabe Willard Nov 22 '12 at 8:23
@GabeWillard it's not, although it is a paraphrase of a passage in the Prologue. – Daniel Roseman Nov 22 '12 at 8:42
Tolkien has been imitated so much that pretty much nothing in his works is unique anymore. A more useful way to phrase this question might thus be whether the idea was original to Tolkien, or whether it also appears in earlier sources. In any case, this TV Tropes page might be relevant. – Ilmari Karonen Nov 23 '12 at 1:59
up vote 28 down vote accepted

No, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, female dwarfs are bearded and indistinguishable from males. It's an homage to Tolkien, of course.

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Unless they wear high-heeled combat boots, pink bows in their beards, and make-up. – Michael Borgwardt Nov 22 '12 at 8:24

As well, the EverQuest series of games also allows for you to customize your dwarf female characters with beards.

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