Reclaiming femininity beyond painted nails & perfect makeup!
Femininity—a word that is somewhat difficult to say—is even more difficult to understand. God has made each person male or female, showing that there should be a distinct difference between the two. As girls, it is our responsibility to let our femininity shine. But what does that mean? Do I always need to have my nails painted and my makeup perfectly applied? Is it a crime to kick back and enjoy the football game? Am I a failure if a three-course dinner is not on the table by 5 pm? Much of our perception of what it means to be “a woman” is shaped by our view of the woman’s role in history. Do I relate with the domestic housewife, the corporate executive or maybe the vivacious actress? Proverbs 31 tells us of a “timeless” lady who is known to others as virtuous. She is trustworthy and hardworking. She cares for her family, helps those in need, and speaks with wisdom. Wow—that’s a lot to strive for! Is my femininity, then, characterized solely by outward appearance and actions, as today‘s media would like to say; or is it characterized by a God-given inward quality I am expected to cultivate? First of all, I’d like to point out that girls haven’t really changed from generation to generation. Sure, proper etiquette, appropriate dress, dreams and aspirations, available jobs and societal privileges may have mutated, but a girl is still a girl no matter what historical age she lives in. Throughout history, though, opinions about what femininity means have changed. I am extremely thankful to be a woman in the 21st century. I can go to work in the morning, play basketball in the afternoon, clean house and cook dinner all before getting dressed up for an evening of fun. My parents have not arranged my marriage. I am not expected to sit silently at social gatherings. I have had the opportunity to not only attend but also graduate from college. Yet these have not always been privileges available to a woman. In my opinion, never before have women had been afforded as many freedoms as we currently possess. I never would have survived in the “high society” of Victorian and Edwardian England—corsets and petticoats, bustles and hats, hair piled high—a rat’s nest, literally! High heels worn out of necessity- to keep your feet from sloshing through the sewage along the street. I imagine those women had to get up each morning before dawn just to get dressed and accessorize for a day of what? Sipping tea and managing a household! They are to be commended for their fortitude and ability to adhere to the model of femininity characteristic of their day; but no, that wouldn’t be the place for me. Go ahead; relish the freedom you’ve been given to be feminine. Pin your hair up; clasp on a fabulous set of pearls; own a beautiful dress that twirls; sport a pair of spectacular heels. But please don’t let that define you as feminine any more than the gym bag in the back seat of your car defines you as an athlete. Femininity isn’t just an outward mark but an inward quality that comes from being content, even pleased, with being a girl. The woman is clearly feminine, yet strong and capable. That is the picture of femininity—the set standard for which I strive. ———— ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Athar Raza, our intern.