In the past two days, I’ve received some fantastic comments about my last post, Femininity and Feminism. Teri commented that, at 60, she wants to hold on to her femininity for as long as possible by taking care of her appearance and avoiding wearing “grungy” clothes (i.e. jeans and baggy T shirts). Bella (of Bella Before and After), mother of three, commented about her daily uniform of yoga pants and how she wishes she was able to enjoy wearing her saris more often. EcoGrrl talked about embracing our inner selves more completely and how that enhances our natural femininity, no matter how it is expressed. Lisa C (Nourishing My Life) mentioned that femininity can be accessed in any way, as long as one feels good about oneself. And EcoYogini emphasized that the term “feminine” isn’t physical – it’s emotional.
I have to say, these comments really hit home for me and have helped me shape my thoughts about this issue – or should I say, my personal relationship with these thoughts. I already have many opinions about femininity in our society (which I will be blogging about over the next week or so), but it was my personal relationship with femininity that was throwing me for a loop.
While I agree with the comments about femininity being an internal energy and creative expression, I realized that I judge my external self by the cultural notions of femininity. This is not something I do to other women – I have friends who are frilly and girly and friends who are total tomboys, and I see them all as feminine and beautiful. But me? When I’m at the store, wearing my bicycle helmet and my cargo pants and T shirt (a very comfortable outfit I often wear when bicycling) and a woman in high heels passes by, wearing lots of makeup and a miniskirt, I suddenly feel fat, dowdy and absolutely the opposite of feminine. It is that insecurity that got me thinking about this in the first place. I wondered, Why should I have to feel that way about myself? I’m happy driving less and bicycling more – it makes me feel good for many reasons. I prefer to wear my comfortable, utilitarian clothing most of the time because I feel like I can do anything – go into the garden, walk my dog, play with my nephews – and not worry about getting dirty, sweaty or stained. So why should that interfere with my image of myself as a feminine being?
It shouldn’t. But it does.
I’ll be revisiting this some more in the future. But before I continue on this subject in future posts, I do want to make it clear that my goal here is NOT to denounce makeup or skirts or perfume or any other “girly” thing we ladies like to enjoy. Yes, there is one thing I will be stating my firm opinion AGAINST, and we can have some fun debates over that, LOL. But the rest of it – I’m all for it! I wear makeup sometimes. I love skirts. I love chandelier earrings (if you look at my picture on the top right hand side of this blog, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the long earrings I was wearing that day). I love perfume. All I am saying is that I want to feel feminine even when I don’t choose to engage in these forms of femininity. I want to be able to still feel feminine when I am in my sweatpants, huffing up a hill on my bike. Right now, I feel like our culture doesn’t really honor that – the ability to be feminine all the time just because you are a woman. I feel that our culture only acknowledges one kind of femininity – external femininity. And that’s what bothers me.
Thanks for all your comments! I look forward to reading more!
By the way, I find it completely ironic that two comments mentioned India/Indian culture. I find that funny because I have always thought that is a culture that knows how to celebrate the feminine body! (Okay, I’ve never been to India and am making this judgment purely based on Bollywood films. So forgive me!) The colors are so vibrant, the fabrics so beautiful, and the jewelry…oh, the jewelry. Sometimes, I wish we lived in a culture like that – where all the women look like goddesses. Wouldn’ t that be something?