Growing, Not Grown: Learning to Embrace My Femininity As I Exit My Teen Years

Since I was young, I have always been up and down about traditionally feminine standards. I did not like to cook, I was obsessed with baggy clothing, and grew out of my phase of liking the color pink very quickly. However, whenever I did lean into enjoying things relating to the feminine, I felt at odds. I grew up to enjoy wearing clothes that would actually fit my body, perfected the skill of wearing makeup (that actually looks good), and liked fighting through the pain of a high heel. These things did not sit well with others, though. I’d constantly hear, “where’s the rest of your shirt?” or “why are you taking so long to get ready, this isn’t a fashion show.” Little by little, I would wean off of putting effort into the way I looked. Of course, when I would put in the effort, I would still look good, but this was not an everyday circumstance. In addition to this, I wasn’t too fond of going to the gym or at least wanting to lose weight in the traditional way. This didn't mean that I wasn't active, but going to the gym should be the least of a child's concerns in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Another hindrance to accepting my femininity was my body shape. I have always been curvy and my shape has always been a topic of discussion. There was either positive or negative commentary with nothing in between. In one ear, I would hear friends praise my curves, in the other, I would hear family tell me to change into “appropriate clothing” even when I’m only wearing a tank top and leggings in my own home. In turn, this led to a distorted perspective on my shape and size. I would refrain from wearing clothes where my arms would show or feel compelled to cover my legs up in 80-degree weather. I lived in denim jackets and oversized tees. When I was brave enough to show a little leg, I would be threatened to get dress coded while thinner-bodied girls would walk on by. 

These days as a young woman entering her 20s, it’s starting to get a little easier, but this doesn’t mean change happens overnight. I still have to do mental gymnastics when figuring out what my actual size in clothing is and I’ll still burn a roux for baked mac and cheese when I’m not too careful. I’ll still have second thoughts about wearing an outfit that’s out of my comfort zone. What I realized, though, is that none of the outside voices really matter. At the end of the day, the choices I make are mine and mine alone. I deserve to have autonomy over myself and the decisions I choose to make, big and small. I am still coming into my own understanding of what it means to be a woman. At the core of it, being a woman is whatever you truly want it to be. Womanhood is not a monolith.