When I was little, I hated the color pink. I turned up my little nose at baby dolls, barbies, and pretty clothes.
I thought that femininity was weak. I hated that I was born a female and prayed to God to be a man. I hated dresses, makeup, and heels. For years, I’ve wondered why as a female I had to make sure I smelled good and wore a variety of outfits while guys could roll out of bed and get so much attention. I hated how my accomplishments didn’t hold the same weight as a man’s, all because my hair was unkept and I forgot to wear deodorant. I saw femininity as a burden — I could think of nothing beneficial for embracing it.
But now, I spend more time in the bath. Perfecting a soft brow. Lingering in the perfume section at Sephora. Shelling more of my money on colorful dresses than on dark shirts. As much as I wanted to resist, there was something within me that called me to embrace my feminine side.
I was raised to be independent. My father wanted me to make my own money instead of relying on a man to take care of me. So, I took what he said seriously. Whenever a guy wanted to help me with anything, I would refuse his help. I focused all my energy on academics and never on my looks. By pouring all my energy on my personality, I was sure that I would easily surpass any girl. But all this did was make me feel insecure around other women. I would catch myself green with envy when I met girls who put in a lot of effort into their makeup and clothes. Not only were these women beautiful, they were witty, funny, and kind, which was like a huge slap in the face. It was infuriating how they could be both beautiful and successful.
Although it took a while, I now know that there’s no strict binary when it comes to womanhood. We can love makeup and win the spelling bee. We can love pink and punch in code. We can make money and also accept gifts and compliments from men. We can do both. We can be both.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that femininity is a strength. Our society loves to shame women who are attracted to men of means or want to have children. We’re told that we need to be strong and independent to get what we want. However, for many of us, we find it unnatural to be happy while working overtime. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we’d love to have children in a picket-fenced house with a man who would spoil us with gifts and love. We deny wanting pretty things and looking good because we either don’t have the means to do so, or we were shamed for wanting comfort by friends, family, and society.
It’s strange, but I’ve been so much happier since I’ve spent time taking bubble baths, going to hair salons, and getting pedicures. It’s upsetting that it’s taken this long to appreciate these innate desires. At least, I’m getting to enjoy it now.