If you’re not a woman, don’t read this.
Just kidding, you can read this. In fact, if you’re NOT a woman, I would actually encourage you to read this.
I consider myself to be a feminine woman. Some people might be turned off my the term “feminine” – what does it even mean? Isn’t it kind of a (gasp) stereotype? Well, yeah, it is. (But what adjective isn’t a stereotype? Think about it. Few adjectives are subjective. Use wisely.)
But before you get mad at me for calling myself “feminine” when “feminine” could mean a lot of different things, I’ll elaborate further. I would classify myself as a low-maintenance girly-girl. (Labels, am I right?) I like lipstick and I’m really into flowery fragrances, but I don’t take three hours to get ready in the morning and I couldn’t care less what my hair looks like from day to day. So, there you have it. Low-maintenance girly-girl. But feminine all the same.
Now, I think it’s kinda rude when people say a woman isn’t very “feminine” or “ladylike.” Maybe she just wasn’t raised that way. There’s definitely a stigma for how women should act (and also a stigma for how men should act). And there are millions of women (and men) who don’t fit that stigma (most of them, actually, unless you’re like John Wayne, who is the man’s man. I don’t know what the female equivalent would be. Something completely unattainable, like Betty Boop.)
I was raised the way most girls in the US are raised. Most of my baby stuff is pink or pastel-colored. I played with dolls, Barbies, princess dress-up clothes. And I loved it. (Parents, don’t ever think that you’re poisoning your child if you raise them the typical boy/girl way. Seriously. It’s not a mortal sin to dress up your baby girl in a pink onesie. It’s your kid. I loved the way my parents raised me.) When I reached those good old formative years (I’m talking somewhere between 8-15), my tastes changed as I was able to make some of my own choices. I was definitely a tomboy. When I was twelve I was obsessed with Robin Hood so I got a bow and arrow. I loved knights and swords and all that stuff. (Confession: I still do. Lord of the Rings fan for life.) The more I made my own choices, the more I discovered what kind of person I was. Now, in my twenties, I’m somewhere in the middle of tomboy and girly-girl. I still love my sweatpants and baggy flannel shirts, but I also like lipstick and shopping at Bath and Body Works (but only when I have a coupon.)
Before I start talking about feminism, I’ll talk about…feminism (I promise this post isn’t about feminism.) The word comes with a lot of weight behind it and a lot of connotations, good and bad. When some people hear that word, they think of the sixties and bra-burning. Some people think of Amy Schumer when they think about feminism. Other people are just really confused when people talk about feminism. What is feminism?
A lot of people define feminism by what it’s not – it’s not about hating men. It’s not about being better than men. It’s not about abortion or birth control. It’s about equality. That’s the political side of feminism. The side of feminism that’s about equal pay for women, contraceptives included in health insurance, and so on.
But I also think we’re all very aware of the social side of feminism, one that doesn’t concern itself so much with how women are paid but how they’re treated and how they’re depicted in the media. For example, Ghostbusters (the new one) is being held up as one small step for feminism, and a giant leap for women-kind. People are getting mad about it because it’s a team of all women as opposed to the Bill-Murray-helmed original, and other people are getting mad at the people who are mad at the fact that it’s all women. And still other people are mad that people are getting mad over a petty thing like people getting mad over a movie. I mean, people have gotten mad at movies before, right? Remember Twilight? (Okay, maybe it was just me who got mad at that movie. I was mad that it existed. But I think you get my point.)
So what’s the big deal? Why are people getting mad? Why are people getting mad at people getting mad? Well, that’s just a matter of opinion. Everyone has their opinion on feminism, and feminism is such a hot-button issue right now that whenever someone significant talks about it, them talking about it gets talked about.
So here’s my answer:
Feminism is being a woman.
Remember Audrey Hepburn? (I know, I’m biased because we share the same name, but I’m going to talk about her anyway.) I consider her a feminist icon. “But, Audrey!” you may say to me (Audrey being me, not Hepburn). “She was so…girly! And she was always the romantic interest in every movie ever!” Have you ever seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s? No? Go watch it right now. Watch it for the cat, if anything. That movie could have been written in 2016 and still been relevant.
Audrey Hepburn is probably remembered as one of the most feminine women to ever walk the earth. She always looked beautiful, she was extremely thin, and she said things that made you feel good about yourself. She also stepped out of the spotlight to raise her children. And she was also a humanitarian for basically her whole life.
I don’t know if she ever even talked about feminism. But she was a woman. An actress, a model, a mother, a humanitarian. “Oh, but she was pretty and frilly. Not every woman can be like her. She’s an unrealistic example.” Is she? True, there are few people who are as thin as she is, and many women (including myself) wish we could be half as beautiful as she was, but she’s still an icon. A lot of women look up to her as an icon of fashion and life overall.
She’s a woman. She’s a feminist.
What about your mom? (Not a yo momma joke, I promise.) What does she do for a living? Is she a doctor? Does she work retail? Is she a stay-at-home mom? All of these things are worthy pursuits. She’s providing for her family, whatever she does. She doesn’t have to have the highest-paying job just to prove something. Stay-at-home moms are some of the fiercest people I’ve ever met.
Let’s just get one thing straight: women are amazing. All women are amazing. Even women who aren’t “feminists” by the world’s standards are amazing. Women who still have old-fashioned ideas about womanhood are amazing. Unconventional women who don’t want to get married or have children are amazing. Audrey Hepburns are amazing. Melissa McCarthys are amazing. Being very feminine is amazing. Being very not feminine is amazing too.
Feminism is not shaming men. Feminism is not blaming everyone else for how bad you have it as a woman. Feminism is not belittling other women because of their opinions. Feminism is being your own kind of woman.
You’re an amazing, feminine woman whether you own sixty shades of lipstick or prefer black skinny jeans over a skirt any day (maybe you are both of these things at the same time, and that’s amazing too). You’re an amazing, feminine woman whether you played princess or pirate when you were a little girl. You’re amazing and feminine whether your idol is Taylor Swift or Condolezza Rice. You are a woman with beauty, power, and strength no matter who you are, without having to try to be anyone or anything else.
You don’t have to adhere to societal ideals or typical “feminism” in order to be a true woman or to stand up for woman-kind. You know how you can stand up for woman-kind? By working your butt off to make the life you want for yourself. Stop caring about what everyone else thinks feminism is and start being your own kind of feminist.
There’s my truth bomb. I hope it caused a ripple and not a splash.