Written by Josie Lee
What is the definition of being feminine?
Fem·i·nine – adjective
1. pertaining to a woman or girl: feminine beauty; feminine dress.
2. having qualities traditionally ascribed to women, as sensitivity or gentleness.
Femininity is a very complex subject. It’s a definition that people develop over the course of their lives based on their experiences. I would summarize it by saying it is a set of qualities; and it is up to others if those “qualities” are good or bad.
What is that elusive, magical quality that some women seem to naturally possess? What are the arts of being feminine? I am not talking about the archaic definition of Jane Austen’s contemporaries; You don’t need to purchase a fainting couch (even though they are beautiful accents to a sitting room). You don’t need to reek of rosewater, or hold Afternoon Tea Parties.
I’m not talking about running away and joining a Geisha School to learn all their man-pleasing secrets (although that sounds like a fun and curious adventure!) I am talking about the women of today. Going forward to 2012. How do we get in touch with that part of ourselves that seems often lost during these modern times of trying to balance so many things?
The key is to mix traditional feminine ideals with modern reality in a way that works for you. Why is femininity important? Not merely to up our attractiveness quotient. Being able to claim your feminine energy is at the heart of your own happiness, and make you even more attractive and comforting to those lucky enough to be part of your life. You can be successful, strong, independent, and equal….but still feminine.
There’s a reason why many women, either through conditioning, or bad habits, reject their feminine cores. The world would be a better place if most women embraced this authentic part of their being. So find a comfortable chair, and enjoy my article on the art of femininity.
Smiles With Your Eyes
Emotionality and authenticity is the core of femininity. The nature of femininity is that there emotion and authenticity, there is unpredictability and vulnerability, and there is sexuality. To be feminine you cannot be afraid of your own ability to feel, to enjoy and to influence others.
A feminine woman smiles with her eyes. Her smile is sometimes so delightful, you can’t help but smile back or be soothed by her. The moment feels genuine, and warmer than an insincere simper. So when you feel like smiling, allow the light to shine from your eyes. It’s infectious, charming, and can be nurturing to others.
Look at yourself in the mirror sometimes. Really look at yourself. How is your posture? How are you holding yourself? Are your shoulders slumped? Are the corners of your mouth sloping downwards? Is your mouth tight? Rigid? Or is it sensual? Do your eyes smile and acknowledge others or avoid the connection of a real exchange? Do your eyes invite or draw people in? Do you make shrewish faces or is your countenance one that others take comfort in?
Do you clomp around in high heels like a horse or do you glide through the day in your high heels? Do you chew gum constantly, like a cow chewing cud? Do you snap your gum or blow bubbles? Do you, God forbid, chew your food with your mouth open? Watch yourself have an entire meal in front of the mirror sometime and see what kind of dining companion you are. None of us are born knowing proper manners. Emily Post is a wonderful reference book. It will only take 30 minutes of your time to read the dining section as a start.
How do you hold your hands? Your wrists? Do you wave them frantically when you are speaking or do you use soothing, controlled motions that punctuate your language rather than startle your audience? Do you move gracefully? How do you sit in a chair? Do you drop into it as if the valium just kicked in?
How do you sit, most especially in company or in public? Do you loll about in different random postures like an animal, or do you sit with your back comfortably straight and your knees together (slightly to one side of you) with ankles crossed, and your hands folded neatly in your lap? Pay attention to your body language and what you are communicating with your body.
Cultivate Good Manners
Read books on etiquette, and expand your knowledge on a variety of worthy subjects. Your life will be more fulfilling and it will make you a more interesting person. It is not ladylike to flaunt your knowledge, your assets, or your accomplishments.
It is not necessary to like everyone, but it is a good interpersonal skill to behave with courtesy and politeness. You don’t have to overdo it nor do you have to compromise your integrity. It is an enviable skill to be assertive yet, composed and polite. It’s about behaving like a professional, and leaving your dignity intact. What you say and how you say it are two very important factors in exuding class. Always speak at a soft to moderate tone. When you have an issue, one can get their point across without screeching and cursing. Save that drama for the Jerry Springer show or Reality TV.
I am not talking about your everyday clothes resembling an MTV Music video. Make your wardrobe more sexy and feminine even if you aren’t comfortable in dresses and skirts. Replace baggy, waist-less clothing with items that are more form-fitting, but not tight. If you wear anything with shoulder pads, don’t even consider wearing anything where the seams don’t line up and you look like you are borrowing it from a football linebacker. Enliven your wardrobe with pastels or bright colors, instead of limiting yourself to severe colors such as black or gray. If you usually wear runners, experiment with ballet flats instead. They are just as comfortable and far more dainty.
Accessories are a huge part of every outfit, but they’re often overlooked. I am a huge fan of pearls as well as statement pieces. An ordinary outfit can be transformed into something unique and alluring. Experiment with different styles of earrings, rings, and other accessories. Accessorizing your outfits is a fun and less expensive way to be more feminine.
For the office, ditch the unflattering big pleated pants, frumpy mom jeans and out-of-style suits. Look alluring but maintain a professional polish. Choose an office shirt that is well-fitted, cut to the body snugly (some have some lycra added for comfort and a better fit). You could add a lacy camisole underneath which paradoxically adds both a touch of modesty and sexiness. Leave your miniskirt out of the office; a pencil skirt has all the appeal you will ever need to exude a feminine silhouette. Think silhouette, not skin. If you are wearing a ruffled blouse with long sleeves, make sure that it is fitted superbly, tucks in nicely at the waist and that the skirt is sleek.
For date night, or just a night out with freinds, the most important thing about looking sexy on a date (aside from charming your man) is that you never look obvious or desperate. It is very important to look like it was effortless. He doesn’t need to know that you spent an hour at the nail salon, $100 dollars at your hairdresser and another two hours primping. (Keep that information to yourself). But, don’t overdo it. A dress that looks like you borrowed it from Jenna Jamesons’s closet will make it seem like you are trying way too hard.
What about your under garments? Throw away anything that is frayed, faded, stained, stretched, etc. Even if you are the only one who knows what you’re wearing underneath, take pride in how you take care of yourself. This means not wearing a lycra polka-dot bra with zebra cotton panties. Attempt to coordinate. It’s very easy to match bras and thongs. Be sure that you don’t have panty lines showing through. It’s terribly frumpy. Have some self respect and know that you are worth wearing something pretty.
Be concious of the semiotics of your wardrobe. Before you walk out the door, what does your outfit say about you? There are ways to update a classic look. Regardless what age a woman is, almost all women look fantastic in a fitted blouse of a nice material with a pencil skirt and suitable heels. Or a tweed fitted blazer with shapely dark denim jeans (lycra are often added to jeans nowadays for a better fit and extra comfort), heels or dainty boots. An a-line dress is almost universally flattering.
One of the most important things a woman can do to being feminine is personal grooming. Arguably, the top item on the personal grooming list is controlling body hair. No arm pit hair, hair sprouting between the eyebrows, leg hair, upper lip hair, and at the very least, keep down-there hair very trimmed and short. It would be better to shave or laser/wax the sides, but for goodness sake don’t feel you have to remove everything! You want to look feminine and womanly, NOT pubescent.
Women should not ignore hair on knuckles and toes. Permanently remove them if possible. Same goes for hair on arms, especially dark hair. And don’t bother to bleach upper lip hair. If you think no one can see that orange bleached fuzz, think again! In certain lights and at certain angles it looks quite hideous. Keep skin in optimum condition. Shower daily and keep skin soft and smooth. Floss everyday.
Keep your nails tidy and presentable. If chipped nails are a frequent problem, opt for natural sheer colors and keep them short and squared. You can even go sans polish if you buff and shape them and keep the cuticles pushed back. Don’t forget to keep hang nails well trimmed and use a nail brush to keep nails clean underneath .
If you color your hair, don’t forget to touch up your roots. Use a hand mirror to check how your roots look from the back of your head. It looks slovenly and cheap to let roots grow out too much. What is the point of coloring your hair if you display all of your roots anyway?
Wear make-up tastefully. Don’t wear so much mascara that you look like a bold stripper. Eyelashes should look long, but light and feathery. Everyday make-up should look like the most polished, best versions of ourselves. With the exception of compact face powder and lipstick, try never to apply make-up in public, because you should keep some privacy and mystery as far as your beautification process goes….keep a little mystery and make it all look so easy. Shut your bathroom door so your boyfriend does not see you curling your eyelashes. That will only scare him!
Find Your Sensual Side
Textures, scents, visual stimulation, epicurean delights, beautiful sounds…….tap into all your senses and don’t take any of them for granted. If you take a bath, it does not have to be purely functional all the time. Every once in awhile, pour some fragrant bath oil or bath salts to make the water sensuous and luxurious. Play some background spa or classical music. Light a few candles and set them around the bathroom. Wear perfume in your pulse points: behind the ear, behind your knees, etc.
Afterwards, have a cup of decaf chai tea or chamomile – depending on your mood. Elevate the ordinary into a pleasurable moment. When you make dinner at home, occasionally place some long tapered unscented candles at the dinner table and use real cloth napkins. If you have a bit of Martha Stewart in you; buy a napkin folding book and iron/starch a stack of dinner napkins into classic designs one normally sees at Five Star restaurants. Then stash them in a linen drawer until you are ready to use them.
If you don’t wish to learn how to cook, keep Hor D’ourves in the freezer to serve another day for visits or for no reason at all except to bring a smile to a loved one. If you have paper doilies and trays, it’s fun to use them to bring treats out of the kitchen in style. An ordinary day can be transformed into a special event by taking a small amount of effort to show someone you love how important they are to you.
Flirt With Your Man
No matter how many years you’ve been with a man, never forget to flirt with him – sometimes outrageously. Don’t be lazy and stop charming him once he’s commited. That’s bait and switch and not cool. Dress for your man sometimes to please him (or her?) We all do things for loved ones to make them happy. Show your man how important he is and how much you need him.
1) At least once or twice in your life, take a strip dancing class. It is one of the most empowering, thrilling things you can do for yourself. Not only is it one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise, but imagine how amazing it will feel to perform a number for your special someone?
2) Learn to make the favorite dishes of loved ones and that includes dessert. The fact that you took the trouble to learn something out of love for others is a sweet and very unselfish gesture. If you still refuse to budge on the matter of cooking; at least learn to make a decent cheese platter or something. And I don’t mean flopping a brick of non-fat mozarella cheese on a plate next to the Ritz crackers. Whatever you choose to make, research how to make it properly; don’t just wing it. Take pride it what you serve and how it is presented.
Having some domestic skills will increase your independence. Not everyone lives in a food-delivery area or wants to drive out into a snowstorm for take-out food. What’s wrong in being knowledgeable and competent at many things?
3) Be a good nurse. When a loved one is ill, it has traditionally been the domain of women to be the caregivers. I am not being sexist in saying all women should be a good nurse at home because I am saying that ALL people should be good nurses to those they love. It’s not a sexist thing. It’s a humanist thing. Have a gentle bedside manner to those seriously ill. Help them recover with appropriate yet wholseome meals. And keep in mind what care the doctor had proscribed. Keep your loved one in clean sheets and bedclothes. Keep the sick room hygenic and regularly aired. Bring entertainmening reads, or in the case of reading or television being too strenuous, audio books can be very entertaining and good company.
4) Sometimes let a man open the door for you. Would it kill you to let him do it? Really? A big part of being feminine, is respecting his masculinity. If you have a legitimate issue with him, avoid belittling him in the company of others. If you are an abrasive personality, ask yourself why and try to use that negative energy in a way that does not hurt others. What man wants a strident, dissident voice screeching in their ears everyday? They may even get used to the angry noise, but it still does not make you pleasant to be around.
In summary, I believe that within every woman there is a goddess. Help yourself resurrect those elusive and sensual talents that are uniquely feminine. As Coco Chanel once said “I don’t know how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that is the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”
I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house. – Zsa Zsa Gabor
If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning. – Catherine Aird