By: Lime Green Giraffe Event Director, Ally W.

We have all felt somewhat required to look like a part of the people around us. How we act, what we look like, the words we use. Society keeps telling us who we should be. Yet we have also always been told to be ourselves. How can we be ourselves when stereotypes withhold us from being free? Femininity has been pushed onto women by men, men telling women to be a certain way to make the man content. It goes both ways, some women expect men to have the ideal amount of muscle and be of a certain height, and some men expect women to have curves on their bodies in certain places yet look thin. The majority of people I met, of all genders, are aware of these pressures from society, so why don’t we stop caring about the amount of femininity and masculinity we have? Today I will be highlighting why I thoroughly believe femininity is not required.

Simone de Beauvoir, a French writer, said “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” This talking about how femininity is not given to a woman, it is the gender norms that build the woman into acquiring men’s idea of femininity. Nigel Warburton says in his “Feminine Beauty: A Social Construct?” video shown on Aeon Newsletter, ”There have been different ideals of feminine beauty at different times and different places. But the constant throughout history is that women have been encouraged to be passive objects, their bodies emphasized and displayed.” For instance, marketing strategies like “Sex Sells” are used to draw attention to the woman displaying herself, targeted to get men’s attention. In this case women are quite literally being used as objects. Companies know that if they make women look alluring to the audience, many people will buy. We see this in magazines and commercials for things like perfume, cars, food, and salons. There are many other ways we see this in our life, especially in the media.

Body types are also a part of the concept of femininity. Women are expected to have feminine curves - to an extent. The social idea is that you can’t have a manly build, but you should look petite in certain areas. We’ve seen how bodily ideals have changed. Ancient Egypt's ideal was a slim body with a symmetrical face and small shoulders. Ancient Greece’s was a full and stout body with a light skin tone. In Victorian England, women’s exemplary body type was of an hourglass shape with wider hips. Women would wear corsets to draw in their waist to attain a more dramatic shape. Then in the 1920’s the body ideal was back to a slender body with a flat chest and rectanglular shape. As you can see, the “most desirable” bodies fluctuate all the time. These ideas are from what men find most attractive and pleasing. So my question is, why should women change their bodies to be acceptable for men? The answer is society itself. We even see women hating on other women for not having the most wanted body type or actually having that body type. It’s a cycle of hate and the root of it is the idea of femininity.

Overall, I believe that women shouldn’t be expected of anything more than what they have. Society should not hold pressures that hurt women. Change is inevitable. We are going to see changes in ideals, and we shouldn’t spend our life worrying about if men see the feminine side of us. This doesn’t mean that obtaining a feminine look is a bad thing, it’s who you are. Wear the dress you want to wear, or wear the suit you want to wear. You can be “masculine” and identify as a woman, just as you can be “feminine” and identify as a man. Both masculinity and femininity have been set up by standards from the opposite sex. There is nothing wrong with being both masculine and feminine. Be who you want to be and don’t care what society tells you that you should be.


Windsor, Elroi J, and Marta E Aparicio-García. Femininity. 

Alpert, Avram, et al. Simone De Beauvoir on Why Women Must Reject THE 'Feminine' to Become Free and Equal: Aeon Videos. 

“3,000 Years Of Women's Beauty Standards In A 3-Minute Video | Women's Ideal Body Types From Ancient Greece Until Today.” Google, Google, 

“Sex Sells: The Objectification of Women in Advertising | DW | 01.02.2019.” Google, Google,

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