I have been a part of a great group studying a document from the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity entitled Advancing Towards the Equality of Men and Women which obviously has inspired quite a few amazing conversation. One such recent conversation focused on the question of why women do not comfortably embrace their femininity. This question was born out of the observation that oftentimes, women can feel somewhat guilty about either being too feminine or not feminine enough. Why is our definition of femininity so narrow that we can’t accept all its different manifestations, from the women who wear pants and no makeup to those who will not roll out of bed without putting lipstick on? And why are women so hard on themselves and have unrealistic ideas of how they should be, how they should look, how they should feel, etc?
There seems to be many reasons that explain this curious phenomenon. These reasons are different from culture to culture and, of course, from woman to woman. But perhaps there is one common factor in all women that explains this, a common factor that is a strength but that has been perverted into becoming our one greatest weakness.
Lately, I have been stuck on the idea that perhaps this common factor is linked to an inherent desire in women for beauty, a desire intimately linked to our potential role as mothers. For mothers might just have, for survival reasons, a more powerful natural attraction to beauty, which is what makes women decorate houses, put bows on our daughters and bow ties on our sons. And if this is the case, perhaps in the midst of the extreme egocentric nature of our current society, this natural, healthy attraction to beauty has become unhealthy, expressing itself for example in an immoderate obsession with beauty products, cosmetic surgery and extremes of dieting and exercising…
It’s worth pondering, because if this is the case, it is quite an empowering reality that I, as a woman, could embrace.