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I’m not a fan of stereotypes…in any area of life.

These days it seems that stereotypes are more like caricatures.

It is all about focusing on the extremes, rather than the norms.

I frequently find the concepts of femininity and feminism are referred to as if they are opposites.

Ironically, if you look feminism up in the dictionary, one of the definitions is “feminine character”!

I believe the reason these concepts are thought of as opposites is the caricature factor.

When the word feminist comes up, what is the image that appears in your mind?

Often people get an image of an aggressive and angry woman looking to burn her bra on the nearest bonfire and ready to take on any man (before he’s even realised that a battle is taking place!)

Likewise, when the word feminine comes up, what picture do you see?

People frequently see a picture of a woman dressed from head to to in pink fluffiness, with blonde hair and an attitude similar to that of Alicia Silverstone’s character in the film ‘Clueless’.

Neither image is an accurate representation of the women who fall into these categories.

Both are actually pretty offensive!

But what is the reality?

Femininity is all about embracing the natural qualities of a woman.

Feminism is focused on proving that there is an equality between men and women.

From my point of view, the reason that people believe that you can’t be feminine and a feminist is because of one word.

They mistake equality with being ‘the same’.

It is perfectly possible for two things to be equal and opposite…and that is the key.

Life is filled with forces that are equal and opposite: Dark and Light, Right and Wrong, Hot and Cold…the list goes on.

Male and Female is another example….equal but opposite.

For a woman to be a feminist she doesn’t need to believe that Men and Women are the same…she just believes that we are equal.

It is absolutely possible for you to be both feminine and a feminist.

I know…because I am 🙂

I’m not really a fan of the label ‘feminist’ as I feel that it is one-sided and has been misrepresented over the years. I’d actually prefer the term ‘equalist’…but I’m not sure that it would catch on! 🙂

I definitely consider myself a feminine woman.

I love being a woman and embracing all of our fantastic feminine qualities.

I also believe that we are equal to men.

Equal and opposite.

…and when we’re in balance, that’s when the magic happens.

How about you?

Are you a feminine woman?

Are you a feminist?

Are you both?

What do you think?

Stay fabulous!

Claire x

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masculine and strong feminineSo last week we spoke about balance and finding the balance between masculine and feminine which is right for you.

The question then is how do you identify the difference between being in your masculine, or being in a strong feminine?

Well there are a couple of key indicators to look out for.

  1. If you’re in your masculine you will tend to feel quite a bit of physical tension, especially in your stomach, chest, back and shoulders. If your muscles are contracting and you feel tension then there’s a strong probability you’re in ‘masculine mode’.
  2. If you’re in your masculine you will tend to be very focused on one specific outcome; you can almost have tunnel vision. There can also be a very strong element of competition involved. If you’re in your feminine you are still very aware of everyone and everything around you. You will feel very connected and will be in a state of peripheral vision.
  3. If you’re in a strong feminine ‘mode’, then you can still feel emotionally open (from the heart), you will also feel very centred and grounded, without feeling heavy or ‘weighed down’. The feeling of heaviness or weight can be a symptom of being in your masculine.

So what if you’ve identified that you’re in your masculine but you don’t know how to get back to the feminine again?

Here are a few very quick tips to get back into your feminine quickly:

  1. Relax – Take a moment to be conscious of your body and release any tension that you can feel. The stomach and shoulders are places to focus on, but the best approach is usually to start at your toes and work your way through relaxing each part of the body until you reach the top of your head.
  2. Re-connect to the emotional you – Take a moment to stop and think about something that you are truly grateful for, think about all of the aspects of it and allow yourself to feel the gratitude deeply.
  3. Dance – If you have the ability to take a couple of minutes, blast your favourite girly tunes and have a boogie!
  4. Laugh or smile – Find something or someone that will make you laugh or smile – it could be a video online, a person, a picture, anything. It will get you right back to who you are at your core as quick as a flash!

I would like to thank a lovely friend of mine on the other side of the world for being part of the inspiration behind today’s newsletter.

I had already selected the topic for today, but her personal situation is one which I’m sure that many other women face (in knowing how to balance the masculine and feminine elements) and it guided me to include elements that I otherwise might have left out.

Thank you…you know who you are… 😉

So enjoy, find your balance and remember to Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

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Balance.

No, I’m not talking about walking down the road with a Manolo Blahnik bag in one hand and a Jimmy Choo bag in the other.

I’m talking about balance in life.

We hear about balance all the time.

Work-life balance.

Balanced diet.

Emotionally balanced.

Balance the cheque book.

In the balance.

The balancing act.

A balanced relationship.

On balance.

It seems to feature in almost every area of life.

But how much time do we actually take to think about balance?

…and what on earth does it have to do with femininity?

Well, a lot of people think that masculinity and femininity are completely separate and because they are total opposites that they have nothing to do with each other.

When in actual fact, the reality is that each contains a part of the other.

I’m going to use the Yin Yang symbol here to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

Yin-Yang

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the concept of yin yang is used to describe how polar opposites (such as masculinity and femininity) are interconnected and interdependent.

With the Yin Yang symbol, the white represents the masculine, the black represents the feminine…and as you can see, each side has a small circle of the other inside it.

A truly masculine man, has a small element of femininity inside him, as a truly feminine woman has a small element of masculine.

The challenge that a lot of people face is that they struggle to getting the balance right.

Men have been told for so many years that they need to be in touch with their feminine side, that for many of them the small circle of femininity has grown to the size where it’s bigger than the masculine part.

Women have been told that they should ‘man up’, ‘play with the boys’ and “stop being so emotional” so many times that our masculine side has all but wiped out the feminine part altogether.

When the balance of our mindset and our behaviour no longer matches the balance of who we are at our core, that’s when we start feeling drained, stressed, unhappy and overwhelmed.

If you are a feminine woman at heart who is acting like a burly 6ft bloke, the chances are that you’re not very happy.

So what is the answer?

The B word. Balance.

It’s knowing that you have an element of masculinity inside you and for short periods of time when the situation demands it, it’s perfectly ok to step into your masculine and utilise that part of your personality.

The key is to be conscious about the fact that you are stepping into the masculine. You then need to be conscious of the best time to release the masculine and step back into your feminine again.

So how do you know when the balance is right?

Honestly, the best way is to just trust yourself, you know better than anyone what balance is right for you.

If you’re not quite sure then look back to the Ying Yang symbol…it will give you an idea of the proportions to start with.

Then just play with it and listen to what your intuition is telling you 🙂

Next time we’ll look at how you can identify whether you are in your masculine or just in a strong feminine mode, as well as a few quick tips on how to get back to your feminine quickly.

So enjoy ladies, find your balance, and remember to Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

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when the going gets tough the tough get feminineA point, which is often raised when I’m discussing femininity, is “what happens when the unpleasant stuff hits the fan?” When things seem stacked against you and you’re really up against it, we often feel that we need step into our masculine in order to cope.

For years this was my primary coping mechanism for tough times…I didn’t believe there was any other way that would work.

As a result, when I started really focusing on and embracing my femininity, I found that difficult situations were my nemesis…

It was habit for me to toughen up and take control during these situations and initially it felt counter-intuitive to take a softer approach.

At times you may have experienced this too.

So I thought that my experience this morning might be helpful for you to hear.

It’s not always easy writing about personal experiences…especially when those experiences are challenging and painful…but if it helps you, it’s worth it.

At the moment there are some significant challenges in my life. The biggest one being that my partner has a serious but as yet undiagnosed medical condition, a condition that is getting worse. Among other things it meant that he spent most of New Year’s Eve in bed in pain rather than celebrating with me 🙁

He has been experiencing symptoms for nearly 7 months, and things are becoming more acute on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This morning it was bad again…and I felt completely overwhelmed.

I needed to talk to my partner about the things that were on my mind.

In my former life this is the point at which I would have stepped, both feet first, into my masculine and tried to take control of everything. I would have been forceful about the way I thought things should be done and I’m sure I would have come across as being dominant or critical.

However since reconnecting with my feminine, I have discovered a different approach.

Today I didn’t hold back and I didn’t push either.

I just let myself explain the way I was feeling, why I was feeling it and what I needed.

I was completely vulnerable, and shed more than a few tears.

It was one of those moments where we could both see the massive difference that this new approach is having in our lives.

Where previously there would have been a battleground, the lines of communication were now open and free flowing.

Instead of feeling criticised, my partner was able to see me and understand how I was feeling.

We didn’t shout. We didn’t battle. We were able to talk about it openly.

We were on the same side.

I poured my heart out, and with a relatively quick, open conversation we were able to find a solution to the immediate problems.

More importantly I gave him the information he needed (and the space) to step forward and help me through a time where I was feeling overwhelmed.

A short while later I was back to work, with a smile on my face and a sense that everything was on track and manageable again.

Sometimes, even when you don’t think something will work, it’s worth giving it a go.

You’ve no idea the difference it could make…

Stay fabulous,

Claire x

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masculine masksWe all know that drag is most commonly associated with describing a man in women’s clothing (before I get corrected here, yes I know that it is used the other way around too! 😉 ), but the real drag is a woman who is feminine on the inside and yet putting on a masculine mask.

Believe me, I speak from experience.

So what is a masculine mask?

Masks are there to conceal the identity of the wearer. Wearing a masculine mask involves portraying characteristics which are primarily masculine and in doing so concealing who you are on the inside. It’s about creating an appearance of being masculine externally which doesn’t match the feminine woman that you are at heart.

Masculinity, like femininity has a number of traits that are associated with it. Without wanting to create an article purely focusing on masculinity (don’t worry, I’ll come to this later!) some of these traits include tension, contraction, solidity, competition and goal/outcome oriented. Masculinity is often associated with ‘problem solving’ (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had an argument with a partner who is trying to ‘fix the problem’ when all I was interested in doing was getting it off my chest!) and it often has a tendency to spend more time on the side of logic than emotion.

Taking on these masculine traits externally if they don’t match who you are internally is exhausting. There is nothing worse than having to behave like someone you’re not. It can affect you emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically too.

Imagine for a moment Charlotte from Sex and the City.

For those of you who have never seen the show Charlotte is woman who believes in true love, in behaving ‘correctly’ and conforming to what is considered ‘the done thing’ in polite society. She is the most conservative of the group, an irrepressible optimist and a girl who is always looking for (and expecting) the arrival of her knight in shining armour.

Next, I’d like you to think about Samantha from the same series.

Samantha is a woman who does not need a man for anything other than an enjoyable night between the sheets! She is outspoken, risqué and gives the impression that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is often heard to say that she can do anything a man can do, and likes to prove it. She could easily be described as a masculine woman.

Now, imagine for a moment, Charlotte wearing a ‘Samantha mask’. Dressing like her, behaving like her, speaking like her…all the while still being the real Charlotte on the inside.

Can you imagine how difficult that would be for Charlotte to keep up the ‘Samantha mask’ pretence long term? How Charlotte would feel?

For a short while it might be do-able, even fun, to appear as something your not…its part of the reason that Hallowe’en and fancy dress parties are enjoyed by so many people. But to pretend for any period of time that you are something that you’re not can really drag you down.

Masculine masks are worn by so many women these days for a variety of reasons. They are incredibly common in business, as so many women have looked up the career ladder and seen mainly men in positions they would like to be promoted to eventually.

Some women choose to replicate the behaviour of the men in more senior positions in order to be considered successful, ‘the right fit’ for the company and ‘good senior management material’. Likewise in very masculine working environments, women can feel the need to act like ‘one of the boys’ in order to fit in and be accepted by their peers.

However it’s not only in business that these masculine masks appear. Women who are often feeling overwhelmed can step into superman mode to prove that they can keep control of everything in their life.

In relationships women can put on a masculine mask to try to ‘protect’ a woman from getting hurt, often as a response to heartbreak somewhere along the line. Or they can be worn by women who feel the need to ‘prove’ that they are independent and can do it all, and sometimes even bring an element of competition, showing that they can do things quicker or better than their partners. This can lead to either an explosive battle of masculine energies with their significant other or to their partner stepping back from their own masculinity (sometimes into a more feminine role) in order to prevent confrontation. This flip in polarity can have a devastating effect on the attraction and passion in an intimate relationship.

The challenge with these masculine masks is that they are draining. It is a demand on your energy to constantly keep up an appearance which is inconsistent with your inner self. The tension, control, competition and ‘need to prove yourself’ associated with the masculine masks takes continuous effort, and can often mean that you are running on adrenaline in order to keep going.

You end up feeling tired, run down and most importantly that you’re not being the real you.

Many women put on these masculine masks as a way of coping, being able to do it all or prove themselves, but in reality we become much more effective, happier and able to cope when we’re true to ourselves.

So girls…it’s time to ditch those masculine masks once and for all, have a good old chat (over a cocktail or two) with your inner woman and decide to put your best foot forward (in fabulous shoes, if that’s your thing) as the real you for all the world to see.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x