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The $64,000 Question…What IS Femininity?

female symbol

So…the question that everyone keeps asking me…what IS femininity?

Well having established why femininity is important, in order to explain what it is, let’s start with what it isn’t, there are so many misperceptions about what the word femininity actually means, and I think it’s important that we address these up front.  Over the last couple of decades, the word feminine (unless referring to the latest Ralph Lauren line) hasn’t always been seen as the most flattering description for a woman.  This summer when Susan Walsh suggested that women “try on” femininity for a short while to see how it fitted, one woman remarked that she saw being described as the most feminine member of staff at her place of work insulting as she believed that feminine = weak and that it meant that she wasn’t being taken seriously.

Does Femininity = Weakness?

So let’s start with weakness.  Femininity has about as much to do with weakness as Manolo Blahnik has to do with aubergines (cue lots of emails telling me he is an aubergine addict…).  In fact, a genuinely feminine woman is incredibly strong; feminine strength just presents itself in a different way to masculine strength.  Masculine strength comes from tension and contraction whereas feminine strength comes from flow and flexibility.  A feminine woman is a force of nature.

Does Femininity = Submissive?

Another common misperception is that it involves being submissive and appeasing people around you (especially men).  Again, nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s about being true to yourself, finding your inner strength and self respect and being proud of who you are inside.

Does Femininity = Pink and Fluffy?

I’ve also heard several women say that femininity is about being girly, pink and fluffy, or replicating old-fashioned domesticity.  Every time I hear femininity described in this way, it is always followed up with a comment along the lines of “but that’s not who I am”.  Femininity comes from the inside out;  it’s not something that you ‘put on’ in order to give an appearance.  The time that a woman is truly feminine is when she’s being totally authentic.

So what does Femininity equate to?

Femininity can take on many forms, because it is unique to the individual woman.  For example, when I’ve asked for examples of feminine women in the public eye, three women who regularly get mentioned are Kate Middleton (the newest member of the royal family), the actress Kate Winslet and Dita Von Teese.  I’m sure you would agree that the appearance and behaviour of each of these women are very different, and yet they are all viewed as feminine women…because each of them are being completely authentic from the inside out.

Now I wouldn’t want there to be any misunderstandings, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with being pink, girly or fluffy, if that’s who you genuinely are…but I wouldn’t want anyone to think that the route to femininity consists of dressing daily in a pink fluffy dress! 🙂

Femininity is about being who you authentically are inside, plain and simple.

…and as such defining it in specific terms can be a little challenging, as femininity is slightly different for each individual woman.

However, there are some core aspects of femininity which are common to all feminine women.  They may appear to a greater or lesser extent from person to person, but they will all appear in some shape or form.

In order to make it nice and easy for us to remember these aspects (in case we decide that we would like to focus on developing any of them), I’ve pulled them together into a simple acronym.  It couldn’t be simpler…it’s about being F.E.M.I.N.I.N.E. first.

Flow – Femininity is all about being open, and letting things flow.  The crucial element of this flow is that it is two-way; it is about giving AND receiving in equal measure.  If you can maintain an openness in your daily life, you will naturally feel more relaxed and feminine.

Emotionally connected – Women are natural relationship builders; we use our ability to connect emotionally with ourselves and others to develop genuine bonds with the people around us.  Our ability to express vulnerability, compassion and kindness are our biggest assets when it comes to connecting at an emotional level.  Emotion is such a crucial aspect of femininity and as love is the most positive and powerful it is the best place to start, both with yourself and with others.  Love has managed to get itself a bit of a bad rap though…we’ve all heard sayings such as “Love Hurts” and “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.  So when we talk about love it’s not the 21st century kind with all the rules, restrictions and pain associated with it.  We are talking about natural love, the kind that you have for your mother before you even know who she is.  Unconditional love…pure and simple.

Magic – I’m not referring to Harry Potter or David Copperfield here!  This is all about re-capturing the sense of magic from our childhood.  Being playful, childlike and having fun with life!  Most importantly…don’t take yourself too seriously!  Remembering the wonder that life held when you were a child and bringing that joy and ability to appreciate the little things into your everyday life.

Inspiring – Unlike some of our male counterparts, feminine women don’t have any inclination to use force or pressure to affect people around us…our core strength lies in being able to inspire, motivate and positively influence anyone we come into contact with.

Nurturing – Women are at their heart nurturers…but this doesn’t mean that we all need to have children, or spend our afternoons tending flowerbeds!  Our nurturing nature can be applied in any area of life…it is about supporting and helping to inspire growth in both ourselves and those around us.

Intuition – Everyone has heard of female intuition – tales of it are legendary!  But it doesn’t have to take the form of some sort of supernatural ability…intuition can simply be a blend of awareness, knowledge and experience.  At times I’m sure that we’ve all had a gut instinct about something…often that we couldn’t actually explain or rationalise…it could be that we’re connecting with some sort of “higher ability” or it could just be your subconscious is aware of things that your conscious mind hasn’t noticed.  Either way…if it serves you and steers you in the right direction, then it’s got to be a good thing!

Natural – Femininity comes from a place of complete and total authenticity.  As a feminine woman it is about getting back to who you naturally are at your core…embracing and embodying it completely.  Being feminine is owning, honouring and celebrating the real you, from the heart…and sharing it with the world.  It’s not about looking, or acting a certain way or wearing certain things…it’s about being you, through and through, inside and out, and recognising how beautiful that is.  It’s really getting in touch with who you are inside…with your ‘essence’…and allowing that to radiate out.

Energy – Energy is where the spark is added to the mix.  This is where our sense of strength, passion and real power comes from.  A feminine woman is an absolute force of nature.  She doesn’t seek out power, or to prove herself like her male counterparts…and when she’s really in her element there is absolutely no need for either.  She can feel the flow of feminine power coursing through her…and every single person she meets can feel it too.

So there, as promised, is my definition of femininity.  It’s come as a result of researching lots of different sources…as well as from my own personal experience.

…and the question now is – what’s YOUR experience of femininity?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Stay fabulous!

Claire x

Exciting News…

Well I promised you a piece of exciting news yesterday, and in order to make up for the news coming a little late I have not one, but TWO pieces for you!

Feminine 1st is appearing LIVE at not one, but TWO fabulous events in the next three weeks…you heard it here first!

I will be speaking at and co-hosting the fantastic “All Woman Workshop” on Saturday the 10th of December in London – www.allwomanworkshop.com.

In the run up to Christmas and the holiday season (which can be a stressful and overwhelming time of year) give yourself a little gift to ensure that you really enjoy Christmas yourself (as well as making it magical for everyone else) and prepare for 2012 to be your best year yet.  Our four amazing speakers will leave you feeling fabulous, and ready to shine this festive season and beyond!

As well as giving yourself a gift, you will also be giving a gift to someone else, as over 25% of each ticket sold will be donated straight to Breakthrough Breast Cancer (http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/) who are dedicated to improving detection, diagnosis, treatment and services.

…and if that wasn’t enough you will also have an opportunity to do a little Christmas shopping with a variety of Christmas gifts available to buy on the day!

AND you also have the opportunity to add a little to the holiday fund.  There is a fantastic 50% affiliate commission on tickets to “The All Woman Workshop”…so if you bring three friends then your ticket is effectively free!

I’ll be sharing some fantastic content about how to feel fulfilled and fabulous by being feminine first…very exciting!

But why have just one fantastic event when you can have two?!

If you just can’t wait until December the 10th…then I have good news!

I am also speaking at the Styling Stripped Bare’s Christmas Special this Saturday, 27th of November in London – clicky.me/6iZT

The Styling Stripped Bare Worthshop™ Christmas Special is an informative, fun and empowering one day event that will enhance your image, strengthen your brand and help you attract better relationship and career prospects with the gorgeous Tanesha Westcarr.

The day is divided into three main areas Self Confidence, Signature Style and Star Qualities to ensure you leave invigorated to achieve the results you desire with a greater sense of confidence and control.

Tanesha uses her controversial techniques and Inside-Out Formula to help you to Re-brand, Re-invent and Re-style yourself for greater levels of success – both personally and professionally. She works with leading brands like, Hobbs, Body Shop, French Connection and Donna Ida to demonstrate the best and latest season’s must haves that work perfectly for your body and shape.

…and yours truly will be featuring as the top guest speaker!  How exciting! 😀

I’m so excited to be getting out there and meeting some of you in person so soon – so be sure to come and say hello when you see me.

Check out the events page now for all of the details on these fabulous events…and I look forward to seeing you there!

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

Behind the Scenes…

Well, what a week it’s been!

The first thing that I would like to say is a massive “Thank You” to each and every one of you for the overwhelming support I’ve received from across the globe since the website launched. I have been truly humbled by the kind words that you have sent, I am delighted that this content is touching the hearts of so many women and I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you. There have been many happy dances at this end over the last 10 days!

The second thing I wanted to update you on is that I’m busy compiling all of the results from the femininity survey…and there looks like there could be an interesting twist on the horizon…more on that later in the week…

The third thing I wanted to tell you about is something VERY exciting! Over the last week I have been busy squirreling away over my new audio programme: “The Feminine Evolution”…and I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the brand new CD artwork hot off the press!

The Feminine Evolution

Big thanks to my superstar graphic designer who has done a fantastic job (as always!) – I can’t wait to see the final CDs when the first of them arrive on Friday!

So what is “The Feminine Evolution” all about? Well, in order to make sure that we can collectively make the best decisions for ourselves in the future, we first need to understand how we have got here! …and even more importantly where is “Here”?

These days, as we know, most women feel they need to have superhuman powers (no capes darling!) just to cope with the multitude of roles and responsibilities in their life. In order to manage it all, we have fractured ourselves into lots of tiny parts, each of them dealing with a separate aspect. The problem is that in breaking ourselves into all of these pieces we’ve ended up losing sight of our true value.

We now need to learn how to bring these fragments back together in order to be our whole-selves again and enjoy the fulfilled life that we were born to live (lots of happy dances included!)

The first step in this process is to be feminine first…and in this CD I reveal exactly what this means.

The fourth thing that I wanted to mention was something which has cropped up several times in conversation over this last week is the $64,000 question…”What exactly IS femininity?” I’ve had a great variety of answers through the survey, but several people have asked me if I will give my personal definition.

The answer is, of course! I’m working on the blog post as we speak and all will be revealed later this week…

The last thing that I wanted to mention (but by no means the least!) is that I have some EXTREMELY exciting news which I will be revealing on here tomorrow…so stay tuned…there’s some real fun lurking just around the corner…I can’t wait!

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

The dreaded s word

The dreaded ‘S’ word – Part 2

The dreaded s wordSo yesterday we talked about the dreaded “S” word…”Should” and that step 1 in solving our “Should” problem is first, to work out and ensure that these beliefs are actually ours.

The second problem with “Shoulds” is that very few people actually do them. How many times do you say “I should lose weight” and then not actually do anything about it? New Year’s resolutions need to be made once every year for a reason…because we don’t stick to them the first time we make them!

So Step 2 in solving our “Should” problem is to banish the word “should” from our vocabulary! If it helps, make yourself a “should” box…every time you use the “S” word, you have to make a donation to the box…for most of us we’d have enough for a new pair of Maonolos by Christmas!

Now, as you probably know, just trying to stop yourself from doing something on its own can be a challenge…so in order to successfully banish the “S” word, we need to replace it with something.

And, believe it or not, the language that we use is massively important to how we end up feeling and we want to make it work for us, not against us. So, whenever you get the urge to use the “S” word, instead change them into either “want to’s”, “get to’s” or “musts”.

“Want to’s” – Think about it…if you have something that you should do, and something that you want to do…which are you likely to do first? Which are you likely to enjoy more? So changing “I should do more exercise” to “I want to do more exercise” actually changes how we feel about “doing more exercise”…even though all we’ve done is change a couple of words. It might seem like a small change, but believe me it makes a big difference!

“Get to’s”- Like the “want to’s” this simple change can make a huge difference to how you feel. So, let’s use a great example which applies in my life on a regular basis: changing “I should go running this morning” to “I get to go running this morning”. Let’s face it; there are thousands of people who would LOVE to be able to go running of a morning (admittedly not those who hit the cocktails a little hard the night before!), but for whatever reason they can’t. Taking something which could otherwise seem like a chore and turning it into something I “get to” do completely changes how I feel about it. Give it a try – you never know, you might enjoy it… 😉

“Musts” – “Shoulds” and “musts” are a world apart. We all know that things that are musts are non-negotiables…we have to ensure that they happen, regardless of the circumstances. Whether they are eating food, drinking water, or paying our rent, we all have them, they just differ from person to person. For one person wearing makeup to leave the house is a must, for someone else it’s a should, for another person it would be something they would consider and for a fourth it would be a must not! It’s all completely subjective. So as you can see, making this small change in language completely changes how we perceive the situation and more importantly how likely we are to act on it. (Note to self…I MUST get a new pair of heels for the Christmas season… 😉 )

The third thing about “Shoulds” is that they also tend to be very non-specific. This makes them that much harder to achieve…or if you do achieve them, you don’t notice that you’ve done it, so you can’t even congratulate yourself for a job well done!

For example, if one of your “Shoulds” was “I should lose some weight”, what does this actually mean? How much weight? By when? If you are aiming to lose “some weight” and you lose 2lbs, then technically you’ve achieved your goal…but I can’t believe that without checking the scales religiously that (1) you’d even notice or (2) if you did notice that you’d be doing a happy dance around your living room to celebrate your great achievement…

Therefore step 3 is get specific! If you want to do something about one of your “want to’s”, “get to’s” or “musts” then be specific about exactly what it is you’re going to do. Now in doing this you need to be reasonable (we don’t want to pressure ourselves to achieve something which would require superhuman skills to do!), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be ambitious!

So rather than “I should lose some weight”…you could choose to now can say “I want to lose 6lbs in the next 3 months”. This simple change of language can make all the difference in how you feel about your desired outcome and also increases the likelihood of actually achieving it.

Finally when we actually do something that would previously have fallen into the category of “should” we rarely take the time to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we’ve done it! Think about this in terms of being like trying to encourage a child to do something that you want them to do. If you point out or criticise the child every time they do something you don’t want them to do, and never acknowledge them when they do what you want them to, what are the chances that they will actually change their behaviour? Pretty slim right? We need to positively re-inforce the behaviour that we would like repeated so that the child feels good when they do it, which increases their motivation to do it again.

We are no different. We need to take the time to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the things that we feel we are doing well, in order to encourage ourselves to keep doing them, rather than regularly focusing on what should be done ‘better’.

Therefore the fourth and final step in solving your “should” problem is to remember to always recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the things you are doing well in your life. There are lots of ways that you can do this, and you need to find the way that works for you…as long as it makes you smile it’s doing the job! For me, this was the invention of the “Happy Dance”…30-60 seconds of jumping and dancing around in a silly way with a smile on my face…does the job perfectly!

So now we have all of our steps, I would like to ask you to make a commitment to yourself that rather than using these “shoulds” (which only serve to make you feel bad for no good reason!) that you will choose to change your language in the future to feel good about making the change that you want to make and will also help you to achieve it!

Sound good?

…I think so too… 😉

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

The dreaded S word

The dreaded ‘S’ word – Part 1

The dreaded S wordWe all know it.

We all use it multiple times a day.

It’s the “S” word that is dominating our lives.

No, it’s not “Shoes” (although they do play a major part for me!)…No, it’s not Sugar (though many of us do indulge from time to time I’m sure)…No, it’s not S&@t!

It’s “Should”.

How many times a day do we use the word “Should”?

“I should lose some weight”

“I should clean the house”

“I should have done that faster”

“I should have remembered that”

“I should eat healthier”

“I should drink less”

“I should exercise more”

“I should be doing something which is fulfilling”

“I should be a better mum”

“I should be doing better at work”

“I should see my friends more”

Should, Should, Should, Should, Should.

In fact, it’s fair to say that we spend a large portion of our lives “Should-ing” all over ourselves.

The question is…”Why SHOULD we?”

Is it because other people think that we should? Is it because we have been told that we should? Is it because society says that we should? Is it because we have the words of people in our past echoing in our heads?  When we say that we “should” whose standards are we using to decide this?

There are really four elements to this “Should” situation.

The first is that so many of our “Shoulds” aren’t even ours, so many of them come from other people – Partners, Parents, Friends, Media…we are being influence by those around us all the time, even if we’re not consciously aware of it.  Let’s be honest, how many of us would feel such an intense pressure to lose weight if it weren’t for the hundreds of images of skinny celebrities, pop stars, and actresses we are being bombarded with every single week? How many of us have heard friends or family who don’t seem to have an ounce of fat on them say “Oh I really have to lose a few pounds?”  Or have heard one of our girlfriends say of someone else “Ooh, she really shouldn’t be wearing that”? Every time we hear someone make a statement like this, our brain takes note and questions whether or not we SHOULD be thinking the same thing.

How about “I should be doing better at work”…where does this come from? Is it from your boss? Your co-workers? If this belief has appeared because you have a boss whose expectations are completely unrealistic, who is so out of touch with what you do that they have no clue what is feasible with the time and resources you have (sound familiar ladies?)….then why do we take it on?

The really interesting thing about statements like “I should do better” is that when we look at it closely, we don’t even know what it really means. Better than what? Better than who? How will we know when we’re doing “better”? In spite of this, we still repeat statements just like this to ourselves on a regular basis. It could be argued that we’re setting ourselves up for a fall…

What about the phrase “I should have done that faster”? Rather than focusing on what could have been improved, wouldn’t it be better for us to take a moment to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we have completed a task which was on our “to do” list? If we recognised and rewarded ourselves for things that we have done well (or just for things that we have done!) rather than focusing only on the negative aspects then who thinks that we might be enjoying life a little more…?

You see the challenge with the word “should” is it implies some sort of deficiency. If you use the word “should” you are suggesting that there is something wrong, and that you have a reason (no matter how illogical or unreasonable) that the situation has to be different….which often leads to guilt…and in the case of us ladies, a lot of it.

If these “shoulds” aren’t even ours, then why do we spend so much time feeling bad about them?!

So step 1 in solving our “Should” problem is first, to work out whether they are actually ours. Our beliefs, our thoughts, out standards.

Next time you hear yourself say the word “Should” (whether it’s out loud or just in your head), ask yourself honestly “Why Should I?” Do I really think I should, or am I just repeating someone else’s words?  Does it really matter to me, or am I doing it to please or appease someone else? Make sure that the standards that you are holding yourself to really are YOURS.

Join me tomorrow for steps 2, 3 and 4!

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

femininity

What is Femininity to YOU?

femininityOK, so before I go babbling on about all this fabulous content I have on being feminine first, I really want to get to know you girls a bit better.

What do YOU think about femininity?  Do you see yourself as a feminine woman?  What aspects of femininity would you like to know more about?

So I thought that I would kick the blog off with a little Q&A session…and for this first one I’m going to be the one asking the questions! 🙂

So if you could take just a few minutes to answer these short questions I can make absolutely sure that the fabulous content I will be sharing with you over the coming weeks and months is exactly what you want to know!

I’ll also share the results of the survey on the blog (don’t worry, all answers will be completely confidential!) so you can see what all the other lovely ladies think as well.

Stay Fabulous! X

So what's so important about femininity anyway?

Femininity – So what’s in it for me?

So what's so important about femininity anyway?So what’s so important about Femininity anyway?

So what’s so important about Femininity? Why should we care? We’ve been proving to everyone out there, men and women alike, that we can do anything and everything that the boys can do (often quicker and better!) for decades now…so what’s the big deal? I mean, we’ve still got our heels and handbags, and that’s what matters….right? So who cares if we’ve lost a bit of our femininity along the way?

Well, the answer is (unfortunately)…we do. We just don’t necessarily realise it.

As important as our heels and handbags are (I personally worship at the altars of Blahnik and Choo on a regular basis)…our obsession with gaining ‘equality’ with the boys is costing us dearly…and while we might be aware of the symptoms…we’re completely oblivious to the cause.

You see, life is all about balance (and that doesn’t consist of a cocktail glass or shopping bag with the latest pair of killer heels in each hand…), and unfortunately balance (especially in terms of masculinity and femininity) doesn’t tend to be very high on our list of priorities.

We are trying to do it all…and we are trying to do it all without any help. We are taking on so many roles in life: girlfriend or wife, mum, career girl, daughter, friend, domestic goddess, culture vulture, chef, health & fitness poster child, entrepreneur…the list goes on!

Put simply, women these days are wearing so many hats that they could single handedly supply the entire crowd at Royal Ascot’s Ladies Day (for our international readers the hats at ladies’ day are notorious…check these out for some giggles)…and femininity is not even on our radar.

Not only are we trying to do it all…but we’re trying to do it all perfectly. We are trying to prove that we are the best…and there’s nothing that we can’t do.

So where does the femininity come in?

Now, I hate to break it to you ladies, but the need to do it all, keep control, compete with everyone around us and prove that we are the best…these are all very masculine traits.

We’ve all heard comments like “She definitely wears the trousers” (read “pants” for our international ladies!) or “She’s got balls!”…and while this might not be anatomically accurate, it does sum the situation up pretty well (let’s face it, they’re not phrases we’d associate with femininity!).

You see, women have been so desperate to keep control of this chaotic life that the only way that they have found to do this has been to step into Superman (not even superwoman!) mode. The man of steel who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Now, no self respecting woman would ever combine red underwear with blue tights, but how many of us feel that we need superhuman powers just to get through the week?!

The problem with this situation is that “wearing the trousers” takes real effort…its hard work. You need to force yourself to stay strong, to make everything happen, to prove that you can do it all. This “masculine woman” is stressed, overwhelmed, feels underappreciated and unhappy. Whether it’s at work or at home, she is struggling to keep all the balls she is juggling in the air. She often has health problems, a schedule which is running her ragged and time for her seems like a distant memory (Time for me? What’s that, I hear you say?!)

On the flip side, when you decide to hang the ‘trousers’ (or ‘pants’!) up and go back to being the real you – losing all the baggage, the competitiveness, the control and getting back to connecting with your femininity and enjoying the ride, it’s a whole different story.

So how can femininity work for me?

You see, a woman who is being completely and totally true to herself is powerful, confident and can just accept herself, as she is.

She doesn’t have to force anything or prove anything, she just does what comes naturally…and believe me when I tell you that it has an impact on every single aspect of her life.

Now, I want to be clear, by being feminine, I do not mean a return to domestic submission, aspects of servitude or the appeasement of the male species (sorry boys, but trust me when I tell you that you’ll enjoy this a whole lot more as well!)

…and it also doesn’t mean that we need to forget or lose touch with our masculine traits either, as everyone has access to both for a reason.

Personally, I think that femininity has been given a bad rap…and I would like to set the record straight.

I know you might think that the feminine you doesn’t exist, but maybe she’s just been buried for a little while…and the experience of digging her out and dusting her off will be well worth it, believe me.

So if you would like to find out more about femininity…then stick with me…it’s going to be a lot of fun! x