Lately I have been screaming “I AM WOMAN” all over my social media accounts. It used to make me feel uncomfortable referring to myself with such a big word because the smallness of the word ‘girl’ felt much less vulnerable. Learning to appreciate myself as a strong woman and having the courage to take up the space that I deserve has been such a struggle of mine that I was curious as to how other people embraced their “woman-ness”. As a result of my struggles and curiosities, I have been asking on social media for you all to share what makes you feel most like a wild + strong woman.
I can not express my gratitude enough for how many of you have shared such open, vulnerable, and beautiful answers. Your responses have been encouraging and inspirational for me on my own journey as I have worked through deciphering what being a woman means to me.
But, there is one conversation from the WWS Facebook between two of my favorite people that especially hit me. These are two women that I have always associated the following words with: powerful. strong. courageous. WOMANLY. And here they were expressing their own struggles with one of the very words that I had always associated with them.
There was something so glaring about their conversation (and no, its not that annoying iPhone “I” switcheroo). The word ‘woman’ pops up only once while variations of the word ‘feminine’ show up seven times. SEVEN TIMES! These people are both are badass, heavy lifting beauties. They are both confident beings and they have dedicated themselves towards celebrating and supporting other women.
Yet, when I asked about what made them feel like women themselves, the conversation shifted quickly to how they struggled to feel feminine rather than focusing on the one word that I was so desperately trying to decipher for my own self.
It inspired me to embark on some heavily scientific research and off I went to ask Google what it meant to be ‘feminine’. According to the all-knowing search engine, ‘feminine’ is “having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.”
Synonyms for the word with some of their top definitions included:
Womanly – (of a girl’s or woman’s body) fully developed and curvaceous
Girlish – of or characteristics of a girl, youthful, childlike, childish, immature
Soft – easy to mould, cut, compress, or fold; not hard or firm to the touch
Delicate – easily broken or damaged, fragile or requiring sensitive or careful handling
Tender – showing gentleness and kindness, but also sensitive to pain, requiring tact or careful handling, young, inexperienced, or vulnerable
Refined – with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing, developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle
Modest – unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements or (of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention
It is no fucking wonder these women were struggling with the f-word. Since only one antonym was given for ‘feminine’ and I love getting sucked into a good black hole of Google research, I decided to see what other options were available if my fellow friends decided that I didn’t want to take what the word ‘feminine’ had to offer.
Here’s what feminine’s only antonym ‘masculinity’ had to serve up:
Virile – (of a man) having strength, energy, and a strong sex drive
Manly – having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage, strength, and spirit
All-male – consisting of or intended for men only
Muscular – having well-developed muscles or vigorously robust
Strong – having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks or able to withstand force, pressure, or wear
Well built – (of a person) having a strong, sturdy physique
Robust – strong and healthy; vigorous
Powerful – having control and influence over people and events or having a strong effect on people’s feelings or thoughts
Vigorous – strong, healthy, and full of energy
I feel strong, energetic, with a fair amount of strength and courage. I have a healthy sex drive, I enjoy moving heavy weight and having a strong and sturdy physique. I like to feel powerful, robust, vigorous, and resilient to pressure and wear. So that must mean that I am masculine, right? Until of course, that “all-male” synonym jumps back out at me reminding me that masculinity and all the descriptors that come packaged with the word are “intended for men only” and if you let your eyes reach just a tiny bit further on the page that it is also considered “unfeminine, unladylike, Amazonian, butch. And even more glaringly, “UNWOMANLY”. Well, shit.
My solace in this black hole of a Google search that I found myself in is one key word in the definition of ‘feminine’ – having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women. Traditionally. You see, traditions can be broken but only if we decide to no longer pass them on.
So my short answer for Christina and Veronica – deadlifting can be feminine. You can be a strong woman without donning makeup and dressing up. YOU ARE STRONG WOMEN, and I am grateful that just by being you, that you both are refusing to continue the tradition of passing on such antiquated connotations of what a woman should be. I am grateful that I have such wonderful examples of WOMEN, who choose to take up space unapologetically, that serve as beautiful examples to me as I continue on my own journey of discovering just exactly what that word means for myself.
It may have taken thirty years for me to finally start displaying my woman badge with pride, but I have had a lot of fucking fun exploring this part of myself and embracing my largeness over the past few years. That’s why I have decided to wear it on my chest and celebrate the space that I choose and deserve to take up. I want to give you the opportunity to do so as well, so I am rolling out some rad tanks and tees so that you can also celebrate just how much fucking fun it is to be a woman.
You can check out the >>Wild Woman Strong<< apparel shop here, and because supporting other women is a one of the pillars of Wild Woman Strong, I will be donating 10% of all shirt sales as micro-loans to female owned businesses via Kiva.com. Please note: The shirts are printed as ordered, and the “campaign end time” is just the amount of time until the next printing. The shop will stay open through the end of November. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any issues ordering!
P.S. Would you like 10% off your t-shirt purchase and first dibs on my best free resources and access to new products as they drop? If you join the Wild Woman Tribe before November 10th, you will find a discount code for apparel waiting for you in your inbox!
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL #WOMANAF?
If you are interested in helping to break the rules and rewrite the definition that has traditionally been associated with the word ‘feminine’, I would love for you to share what makes you feel like a wild + strong woman on Instagram and use the hashtag #WomanAF. Don’t forget to tag @wild.woman.strong so I can continue to be inspired by all of you strong and powerful women, and bonus points if your new “Woman AF” tank makes an appearance in your posts too!
P.P.S. I realize that there should also be an entire conversation on just how detrimental it is that such strong words are used when defining masculinity and that comes with its own story as well. My goal with this post was to share details from my own personal journey in hopes that it helps someone else embrace themselves and take up the space that they deserve without feeling too shut out by what society has historically labeled as feminine or masculine. I appreciate and will honor any and all constructive conversation around the topic.