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So what IS feminine? What does it look like? Can you learn how to be feminine?

feminine

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

What does being feminine look like? 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 feminine 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 Feminine = Weak?

So let’s start with weakness.  Feminine 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 Feminine = Submission?

Another common misperception is that being feminine 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 Feminine = Pink and Fluffy?

I’ve also heard several women say that being feminine 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 Feminine look like?

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! 🙂

Being feminine 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 being feminine looks 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 – Being feminine 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 being feminine 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!  Being feminine is about 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 feminine 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 feminine.  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 being feminine?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Stay fabulous!

Claire x

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

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