The $64,000 Question…What IS Femininity?

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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

16 replies
  1. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    Firstly, I wish your Feminine 1st workshop was in L.A., because it looks like an incredible event. If you know of anything like that around here, please share.

    I found myself agreeing with all of your points, especially that femininity is not characterized by weakness or submissiveness or frilliness. A feminine woman exhibits quiet strength that comes from within, the confidence that grew from being true to herself. She provides guidance & leadership through example & is often the best manager of people within an organization for her nurturing spirit inspires loyalty and motivation. There is a lyrical beauty found within a truly feminine woman, because her peace with herself is a sight to behold. I aspire to be feminine, as we have described here. Girl power!

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Hi Deanna,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and for your kind words. Who knows…maybe I’ll bring the workshop to LA in 2012…watch this space! 🙂

      I couldn’t agree more with your comments….and I have to say that your phrase “There is a lyrical beauty found within a truly feminine woman” sums it up exquisitely!

      Looking forward to sharing more ideas on this subject – stay fabulous!

      Claire x

      Reply
  2. Heather Waring
    Heather Waring says:

    Fabulous and well set out points all very much covering the aspects of femininity. I was agreeing with you at every step. Well done.

    Reply
  3. Jan R. Miesse
    Jan R. Miesse says:

    Love your thoughts of being feminine. Most people think of the obvious, the flirty skirt, the sweet hair, the handbags extraordinaire. I think of feminine as multi-faceted, as you do, especially with the attitude of ‘woman with assurance’.
    We can be who we are with confidence, whether we are in ruffles or jeans. Being wholly woman and knowing our strength to speak, to think, to persevere wearing anything we choose. Hopefully, being feminine includes being warm from the inside out to others.Youtube >
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm7x3QDFpRQ&feature=colike

    Thanks for your view. Love it that it is not in a tiny little box of pink satin!..

    bloom. Jan http://www.janrmiesse.com Author/Speaker

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      I couldn’t agree more Susan! I love your post too…left a little comment for you over on your site. Love what you girls are doing over there! x

      Reply

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