Being a woman used to mean something. We had a purpose, and were essential to the health and well-being of our communities and societies at large, but sadly this is no longer the case for many modern women. We have abandoned our natural, God-given gifts and qualities, and replaced them with what we have been trained to believe is liberation and equality. While it is important to know what specifically caused this degradation of traditional gender roles, focusing on the things we cannot change will not help us repair ourselves or our communities. Instead, we women should focus on the things we do have the power to change, and the first and most important step toward that goal involves reclaiming and embracing our femininity.
But what exactly does it mean to be “feminine”? The technical definition of femininity is: qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of women. On its face, this definition seems simple and straightforward, right? For many of us, and especially for impressionable young girls, it can be tough to identify the natural qualities of women due to damaging and misleading information being sold to us by modern pop culture. Personally, when I think about this definition and what it means to be a woman, a few terms come to mind: nurturing, softness, compassion, empathy, modesty, beauty, and tenderness. These are the qualities that make us feminine women.
Still, how do we go about implementing this in our lives? How do we nurture and grow these qualities in ourselves until they feel natural to us again? A few simple things women can do to get on the path to becoming the woman we were meant to be involve:
Form healthy habits
Ask yourself: can you truly care for those around you if you don’t care for yourself? Self-care is the most important part of the journey, and we must lead by example. Many of us live hectic lives with full schedules, so it’s easy to forget to do something as simple as drink enough water throughout the day. It’s even easier to justify not reading or educating ourselves because we’re tired and don’t feel like dedicating time to what we may think of as non-essential.
Breaking these bad habits and retraining our minds seem like daunting tasks, but they are not, and once one gets started, such things become second nature. Plan out your day and make sure to include every activity, from meals, exercise, and dedicated reading time.
Cultivate meaningful relationships and distance yourself from those that cause you stress
This is an essential step to becoming more feminine and living a healthy and wholesome life. It can be painful to let go of old friends and people that you’ve grown close to, but unhealthy relationships are a drain on in many ways. Take time to evaluate your friendships, and ask yourself if there are people in your life that cause you stress or encourage negative attitudes and behavior. Then distance yourself from those people and look for friends that are going to enhance and add value to your life.
Your most meaningful relationships should be with your husband, your children, and your family. These essential relationships must be nurtured and reinforced daily, and those who bring value to you should receive the lion’s share of your attention. Improve these relationships by spending more time with those people, adjusting your attitude so that they come first, and figuring out ways to help them and their quality of life.
Be mindful of how you present yourself
This aspect of femininity gets the most attention. Yes, being feminine is about more than outward appearances, but the way you present yourself does matter. There is a reason we perceive women from the fifties and earlier periods as being beautiful and feminine. No matter their social standing or budget, these women made looking nice a priority by taking care of themselves and dressing well. To enhance your outward appearance and the feminine image you wish to convey to others, restock your wardrobe with light colors that work well with your skin tone, and wear timeless, modest cuts of clothing.
Equally as important as your physical presentation, is your attitude. Strive to be a calming presence to those around you, and pay close attention to the tone of your voice and the language you use when speaking. Choose your words wisely and remember—you are never fully dressed without a smile!
However much you work on this there will be times when you want to lounge around the house in sweatpants or use the occasional swear word in a moment of frustration. None of us are perfect, but the best thing you can do is set realistic goals and reach them to the best of your ability.
I guarantee that if you follow these steps, your loved ones will take notice and realize how lucky they are to have a beautiful, caring woman in their lives.
This piece originally appeared in the 2019 issue of The White People’s Quarterly. You can read more about this issue here.