Picture this: you’re a 20-something college grad. Today, you have a meeting that could potentially gain you a promotion in your company. You’ve done everything possible to prepare for this meeting; early morning workout followed by a delicious breakfast of eggs, spinach and Twitter drama.
Now comes the challenging part: what to wear…
You try on several outfits for your roommates (Project Runway style). The fashion show is met with overwhelming praise. However, whenever you try on a dress or skirt you feel a tightness in your chest. The more feminine you look the more unprofessional you feel. Even when your roommates tell you your dress could have won Hillary the presidency, you still feel uncertain. You end up wearing pants and a plain shirt with minimal makeup. You don’t want to “be a distraction.” Ultimately, you don’t get the promotion. Even though femininity is often frowned upon in professional spaces, you regret not being yourself.
Femininity has the power to incite change in a professional or creative space. Before I begin ranting about the Power of Femininity, let’s define our terms…
Femininity: having qualities or an appearance associated with women. Humility and empathy are associated with the term. There are many ways to show one’s feminine side. It could be what you wear or what kind of music you blast while driving to the dentist. Femininity transcends gender and manifests in all aspects of life.
Femininity is beautiful and symbolizes strength. It wasn’t until I grew older that I felt that way.
Growing up I had few feminine influences in the media that were “role models.” My first examples were Disney princesses. Ariel was gorgeous, but Miss Thang had no control over her life. She was so busy dreaming about a prince, she completely forgot about Sebastian’s concert. Ariel was not the best role model for self assurance or quite frankly punctuality. I played with my Barbie collection which consisted of 15 “fashion Barbie” and one veterinarian. Whenever my friends came over they rummaged through my Barbie bin for the “prettiest one.” Did vet tech Barbie have the same style? Of course not, women with jobs can’t be stylish! Vet tech Barbie ended up in a pile of dust under my bed next to a slinky and a few hair elastics.
My formative years were a time of great social turmoil or rather, socialite turmoil. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian were our cover girls. Beauty was only skin deep. For any younger readers, in 2007, Kim K was not a lawyer yet. It was suddenly aspirational to not have a job and just be gorgeous. It seemed like feminine people didn’t need to use their brains or they shouldn’t. From socialites in the media came today’s feminine influences, Maddie and Cassie from Euphoria.
Growing up with these media influences, it makes sense that we try to conceal our femininity. We think we won’t be taken seriously. We all want to be a Jackie and not a Marilyn. Wearing makeup feels like weakness. Mascara is more likely to be seen smudged in a mug shot than worn during an inaugural ball.
My thinking eventually changed. I was lucky enough to have several successful feminine influences in my life. My mother and aunts are my icons. When I was 12, one woman (whom I will never meet) changed the way I viewed femininity and success: Elle Woods.
Legally Blonde was the only movie I saw as a child where the fabulous fashionista was a driven, kind, and successful career person. Elle Woods became a Harvard law graduate while never sacrificing her integrity. She was a lawyer who dressed in amazing outfits. She “bent and snapped” the falsely accused right out of prison. Obviously Legally Blonde is fictional, so I needed to do some research to see if women like Elle Woods exist in real life.
News flash: feminine, successful people do exist! Yes, even in this economy! It is our responsibility to tell their stories.
Femininity manifests in kindness and strength. Confidence, passion, and determination can all be uniquely feminine qualities. It manifests in walking into a board room and giving the best damn presentation your colleagues have ever seen. It’s standing up for a friend when you know there is a lot at stake if you do. It is more than hair, clothes, and shoes. The next time you’re getting ready and you feel insecure, follow your idols. You’ll be surprised how far you can go by being yourself.