on being feminine

One question a lot of black women seem to be asking lately is: what is it to be feminine?

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

So many writings on the subject seem to focus on clothing, the implication being that it is what you wear that makes you feminine or not. While that is true to quite a large extent, it is untrue that it is ONLY clothing that makes some women appear more feminine than others.

I believe that femininity comes from within, from the core of who you are. For most of us, because of our socialisation, being feminine is not something that comes naturally, but something that we have to learn. How do you learn to change your core from seemingly masculine to feminine? Million-dollar question.

Being feminine does not mean being a push-over for others, letting them walk all over you. Nor is it turning into a simpering mess at the slightest hint of adversity. Being feminine, for me, is not about wearing dresses all the time, or skirts, or pretty pastel colours. Women can seem ‘soft’ even when wearing jeans, I believe.  It’s not about the outside, although that is not unimportant it is. It is first and foremost about the energy you give off and/or attract to you.

If you appear angry all the time, and/or tired and unenthusiastic, no amount of pastel-coloured dresses will make you seem feminine. Femininity is not brash and abrasive, but gentle and welcoming. These are things we can all learn to be, with time and effort.

You do not have to wear your hair long and straight all the time to be feminine. I do not believe any sane person can ever accuse Halle Berry or Hilary Clinton of being less feminine because of their short hair-dos. Those are just the first names that popped into my head I’m sure you can think of other examples of feminine women who keep their hair short.

You do not have to be ‘domesticated’ to be feminine – it is not the washing of dishes and mopping of floors that confers femininity. Like I’ve said, it’s about the energy you give off.

Being feminine isn’t about externals. Yes, dress matters, let’s not fool ourselves there. But the point I’m making is this: it is not what you wear or what you do; it is HOW you wear it, and HOW you do what you do. Not every woman looks good, or even feminine in a maxi-dress. Not every woman is suited to pastel colours. Carry yourself in a more feminine manner; exude happiness and joy and peacefulness. Surround yourself with things that are beautiful to you, that give you joy.

Consider your behaviour in company – how do you interact with the people around you? Are you charming, and pleasant to be around? Or are you loud and uncouth, and bent on showing that you can ‘tell it like is’? Being truthful is not synonymous with being aggressive. You CAN state your position, even if it is contrary, without antagonising those around you.

The clothes, the hair, the shoes…these are important because they are instant visual pointers to your femininity and you would do well to take advantage of traditionally feminine attire, but that is not and cannot be the end of the story. who you are on the inside counts for a great deal, perhaps even carries more weight than what you wear. Is a long-haired man always less obviously masculine than a man with the traditionally masculine short hair? Of course not. By the same token a woman in jeans and sneakers is not necessarily less feminine than one in a dress.

There are so many resources out there on what it means to be feminine -make use of them.

Check out:




2 thoughts on “on being feminine

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