This past December, I decided I wasn’t feminine enough. Pandemic fatigue and lack of sunlight-produced endorphins had persuaded me that I was an ugly duckling in need of a glow up to a gorgeous, elegant swan. I decided that I wanted to be the type of woman who walks into a room and just eludes elegance, composure and femininity.
I wanted the temptation of Marilyn Monroe—the charm that is Lupita Nyong’o. I can’t tell you exactly who or what got into my head and convinced me that somehow I was not enough as a woman but good Lord, did they bite me bad. I decided my femininity was something I needed to work on, and I went to everyone’s first point of how-to contact: YouTube.
I looked up how to increase your femininity, and boy did I hit the jackpot. Youtube has videos on top of videos on how to increase your feminine allure, how to use your femininity to your advantage, how to use femininity to persuade men and how to take care of your feminine hygiene (#saveforlater.) I spent most of my free time this break combing these videos, picking myself apart to make myself more palatable, more desirable.
A lot of my “research” was common sense. Advice about the importance of raising your confidence, practicing self-care and establishing clear boundaries was the best of the knowledge I began to garner. Condescension, body shaming and performative confusion were the worst.
All of the YouTubers I found made sure to emphasize how there isn’t any one way to be a feminine woman… before proceeding to offer ways to incorporate traditionally female stereotypes and gender roles into your daily life. However, I was so sure that I was in need of guidance and class that I actually took notes. I began curating my closet, living space, and headspace for my perfect feminine life, expecting myself to grow into my swanhood.
You wanna know how deep into this rabbit hole I fell? I printed out a seven-step guide to analyzing my femininity, complete with a section devoted to letting go of my worst masculine behaviors. I understood the premise of these feminine videos was to learn how to uplift the traditionally feminine qualities I don’t always practice; sensitivity, seductive, nurturing and gentle. However, learning that being a leader, assertive and resilient were all qualities that were ‘holding me in my masculine energy’ eventually made me realize these videos had me all wrong.
I wanted freedom from the shackles of manhood but also knew I had ventured into questionable territory. I wanted to increase my composure and strengthen my presence, but did I want to do so at the risk of dimming my leadership potential? My Virgo behind has always been straightforward, direct and inquisitive, and these are traits that I consider distinctly, innately Josephine. I have both feminine and masculine qualities—just about every woman operates in her masculine energy some of the time. However, isn’t that precisely what makes being a woman remarkable?
Men have tried for years to reduce women to one-dimensional beings, only worthy enough of their respect when we check every box on their “good woman” list. Why in the world am I trying to fit into one of these baby pink boxes? I have mastered the art of getting sh*t done while rocking some red lipstick and a kitten heel.
These femininity videos have one thing correct: being a woman is powerful, and femininity is empathetic, persuasive and understanding. Feminine energy is the power to trek through traditionally male-dominated fields with poise, to bring understanding to the quiet storm that is life. The true power of feminine energy is the strength to navigate a world not designed for us with tenacity and instinct, with trust above all else in ourselves and our capabilities.