My mom read aloud Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald to my sisters and me when we were growing up. I don’t remember much of it, other than the comfort of snuggling up to my mom as she read aloud, the beautiful watercolor illustrations, and the funny, relatable stories of home life. The only chapter I can recall is the one describing femininity as soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel.
That was my technical, working definition of femininity: soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel. True femininity required proper hygiene, long, flowing skirts, lavender scents, and nicely-done hair and makeup. This no doubt fed into my assumption that women could avoid hard, dirty work on the grounds of their gender. “Lady” was equivalent to “woman”; “lady-like” equivalent to “godly” and “Biblical.”
I love soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel things. With my pastel pink wedding reception, obsession over Modcloth, and penchant for doing my makeup just for fun, I definitely consider myself a girly-girl.
But I don’t believe that soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel is the definition of femininity. I don’t believe it’s even a requirement of femininity. Femininity, to me, means “related to what is female.” Each particular woman defines what femininity means for herself, and because every woman is different and because a woman’s body and personality is multifaceted and versatile, femininity in an external form can look like anything from combat boots to high heels.
Women have beautiful bodies, no doubt. Estrogen makes our skin soft; our curves provide warm, snuggly places for nursing babies; we rock stilettos and V-backs and mermaid dresses. Women have strong bodies, too. We birth those babies, after all. We run marathons, perform pointe ballet eight performances a week, and join the army.
I would love to start calling those things feminine, too — the blood and guts, rough and tumble, muscular and strong things about our bodies. With that in mind, here are some feminine things I love:
An army master sergeant, Deshauna Barber, took home the Miss USA title — and she’s awesome. What a perfect combination of beauty, brains, and beast strength! I can’t get enough of this quote:
https://twitter.com/DCHomos/status/739633683334762496The hot dog girl makes me laugh.
http://twitter.com/turnerbrandon/status/738366132382490624/photo/1A period commercial with actual blood.
Cup of Jo’s beauty uniform interviews are my favorite.
Speaking of insane things your body can do…ballerinas in the city blew my mind.
Let me know what your favorite feminine thing is, and enjoy your weekend!