Feminity: External, Internal, or Both?

 At the very end of 7th grade, I moved from Middleburg, Pennsylvania to Middletown, Pennsylvania, and attended a junior high school.  Unbeknownst to me, being the newcomer, is that each year in 8th grade, several kids were chosen as most/best of something or other.  Basically, it meant you got your picture in the yearbook with that title.
  It was during gym class one day that my gym teacher suggested I be nominated for the most feminine award.  The class quickly agreed and the word spread.  I was chosen.  The following year, my sister got the same award.  I'm not sure of the reason, but my sister and I have looked a lot alike over the years, or at least that's what people  have said.  One friend once confided in me that she didn't like me initially because I seemed to be so delicate I could easily break.  So, whether it was how we looked or how we acted, or a combination of both, I am unsure.
   I've no doubt that it is because of this award that I have always had the utmost confidence in my femininity, when in fact, I'm not sure how people perceive me at this time in my life.
   And so, it was with interest that I watched a  youtube video by a woman who said she felt so much more feminine in dresses and skirts. She quoted a Mimi Tanner who said, "The more feminine a wife looks and acts the more masculine the husband feels." I suppose I can buy that on a certain level.  And I don't discount the fact that clothes can, to some degree, make one feel beautiful, sexy, frumpy, or feminine.  But at the same time, I believe femininity is a state of being, not something you wear.
   This very moment I am thinking of a woman I used to see in church every Sunday.  I have also seen her outside of church.  In my opinion, there is nothing feminine about this woman, with or without a dress.  By the same token, I've seen very feminine women wearing a pair of jeans and cowboy boots.
   Think of the word effeminate.  We all know guys like this.  Are they effeminiate because they are wearing skirts or dresses?  Of course not.  It's the way they talk, move, and carry themselves for starters.  It may also be a "soft" hairstyle, certain jewelry , and in some cases, even makeup.  It may even be their chosen profession.  (Hair dressers and clothing designers, for instance, are notorious for attracting effeminate men.)
    The same woman who made the video said she had a job where she was required to wear khaki pants and a red shirt. It was when she started a new job that she began to wear dresses and skirts.  Ok, I'm not going to lie.  I detest jobs where men and women are made to dress alike.  I wouldn't feel particularly feminine in that garb myself.  I can just imagine the shirt looking exactly like a man's shirt and the pants looking very manly. Red shirt and khaki pants doesn't exactly scream feminine.  But that's the point.  As a feminine female, it is unlikely I would choose that particular outfit, particularly on a regular basis. Would I wear a  red sweater or perhaps a more feminine blouse? Yes.  There are  khaki pants, and then there are khaki pants.  They are not all created equal.  So, it is possible to choose more feminine variations of clothes whenever there is some leeway. I don't think I would work a job that essentially made me look like a man. If I had to, I would wear as many accessories as possible - jewelry, scarves, and things in my hair.
   Elizabeth Elliot, a woman who was a missionary to the jungle Indians of South America, had this to say.  "The femininity of women was a deep-rooted consiousness of what she was made for.  It was expressed in everything she did differently from men, from her hairstyle and clothes (if she wore any), to the way she sat and the work she did."
   Hmm.  Now another aspect surfaces.  It is not just about how one looks and moves, but what one does.  Does anyone even doubt that it is a woman who makes a house a home?  A woman is the heart of a home, not the man.
   I think it is fair to say we wouldn't have many, if any, family gatherings if men were left in charge.  I'm not insinuating that men can't cook, and maybe even decorate, but they just don't seem to have any interest whatsoever in all of the little details we women care about so deeply.
   In researching femininity, I came up with a metaphysical site that attributed strength to men and goodness to women.  I believe, in general, women are more in tune with other's needs.  They are, by nature, more relational, and this often expresses itself in goodness.  Think of people like Clara Barton, Mother Theresa, and Ruth (of the Bible).
   What we wear, how we sit, what we do, how we fix our hair, it all comes from who we are at the core of our being.  If we are feminine, it will show, but not always the same way for every woman. Like everything else, externals are a reflection of who we are.  Externals don't make us who we are.  Jesus talked a lot about the heart.  The heart makes the man and the heart makes the woman.
    If you are a woman, enjoy it.  Don't try to compete with a man, but don't feign helplessness, either.  Just be real.  Let your femininity shine.  We need women who are women and men who are men.
    Are you struggling in this area? Study women whom you think are feminine.  What makes them that way?  Practice goodness.  Grow in the arts of cooking, homemaking, sewing, and/or childcare.  Cultivate all of those qualities that God prizes in a woman.  Have fun in the process.  Relax.  Breathe.  Be who God created you to be, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and maybe even a mother.



  1. Very interesting. You gave me some things to think about as usual.


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