Reclaiming Femininity


“You were created to be strong and powerful and formidable. Not in spite of your sex, but because of it.”

feminineShe teetered into the room wearing sky-high clear plastic heels, each one garnished with a giant pink bow. A floral pastel dress with a short flared skirt completed the ensemble.

She beamed when her eyes met mine, and immediately thrust her fingers in my face,

“Look at my nails!” she squealed. Each nail was loaded to the hilt with pink polish, giant sequins, and fabric bows.

In short, she was the fluffiest, pinkest, cotton candy cloud of a girl I ever laid eyes on.

And I found her captivating.

But not too far back, my opinion would have been quite the opposite.

You see, I used to abhor fluffy pink cotton candy girls.

Because femininity equaled weakness in my eyes.

The feminine lie

I had witnessed it firsthand. There was the nine-year-old girl in my class who developed early and was ridiculed mercilessly. I remember profusely thanking God He had spared me from such horror.

And then the cute boy who chose a miniature version of Pamela Anderson over me in the sixth grade. She wasn’t nearly as smart as me, but that didn’t seem to matter.

And then there were the numerous times I laid my heart bare, when I let my insides out into the big scary world. Instead of warm acceptance, I was teased and called ‘Crybaby’ throughout my impressionable elementary years.

Femininity meant being judged for your cup size rather than your brain. Femininity meant batting your eyelashes and playing coy to get what you wanted. Femininity meant being tender and soft in a world that idolizes the tough and resilient.

It meant having my vulnerability thrown back in my face.

So I fashioned myself with an outer shell of cold steel, and stuffed my emotions down deep where no one would ever find them. At age 12 that outer shell was outfitted in red flannel button downs over baggy white t-shirts. In high school I avoided boys and buried myself in thick textbooks, straight A’s, and gnarly sweatpants. By university, I turned pro, sniffing in disgust at the girls who strutted into my university classes wearing heels.

I played sports, cried alone, and never wore pink. 

Trying on Feminine

My self-righteous perspective changed radically when I hacked off my hair and found myself in unknown emotional territory: I didn’t feel feminine enough with my shorn locks.

Athletic wear suddenly began to give way to ruffles, floral prints and flouncy skirts. The first time I stood in front of the mirror at H & M, my strong build swathed in black polyester dotted with bright flowers, I didn’t recognize myself. But something about the balance between the androgynous hair and frilly fashion worked.

I distinctly recall a memorable post-transformation trip to Chapters. I was wearing a flowing maxi dress with a cream flower holding my cropped black hair in place. A little girl in a red bathing suit peeped at me wide-eyed as I browsed through historical fiction.

She tugged her brother’s arm as I walked by, and whispered loudly,

“Look! A princess!”

Her brother, completely mortified, dragged her away.

It was—and still is—the best compliment I have ever received. Which is odd because ‘princess’ is a word that would have insulted my 17-year-old self to her very core.

But in those three little words I heard the voice of my Creator: 

You are a daughter of the most High. A princess in fact.
But you are not a damsel in distress.

You are a warrior, with power far more abundant than you know.
And you need to carry yourself as such.

You were created to be strong and powerful and formidable.
Not in spite of your sex, but because of it.
So claim it. Own it.

Embrace who I have called you to be: a warrior.
Draw fully from my well, my daughter.

I was scared to embrace my femininity for fear of being labeled as weak. Or unintelligent. Or prissy.

Feminine is…

But I feel more like warrior in a frou-frou dress now than I ever did in all those ratty hoodies. Because I’ve stepped into what feminine looks like for me: funky and bold, with a dash of tomboyish flair thrown in. And now that I’m owning it I have the courage to be vulnerable. To let my warrior’s cry be heard. To not cry alone.

So when I saw that cotton candy cloud of a girl owning exactly who she is -and preaching the house down to boot –  I smiled to myself.

“She is a force to be reckoned with,” I thought.

In spite of the dress. Or maybe because of it.

Because to be feminine, I have finally realized, is to be anything but weak.

– Feminine is wearing five-inch heels and not apologizing for it.
– Feminine is seeing beauty in the everyday.
– Feminine is lacing up your sneakers and killing your best time.
– Feminine is owning your full chest, your strong legs, your rounded belly.
– Feminine is speaking out for those who are silenced.
– Feminine is putting your heart on full display for the enemy and yelling “I dare you to take me down!”

Feminine is embracing all of who we were created to be in a world that demands we pick and choose.