Column: The power of my femininity


Photo credit: Angélica Gonzalez

Women should be allowed to express their femininity without the boundaries and limitations of society. Femininity isn’t limited to a specific gender and once this is realized, the expectations that cripple our society will begin to crumble.

By Marissa Gendy, Columnist

Growing up, gender standards played such a prominent role in the way I understood my gender identity. For most of my life, my parents reinforced the gender standards set by society onto me. This not only allowed me to create a part of my identity that was acceptable to the public but also confused me all throughout life.

Since I was young, people considered me an outgoing, funny and very loud person. I never shied away from sharing how I felt or what I was thinking. As I started getting older and was able to have more independence in terms of the way I dressed or choose how to express myself, I was overwhelmed by the amount of restrictions I was introduced to by my parents and school. From the way I styled my hair to how long my uniform skirt could be, it was a constant state of no’s. It felt like my whole world was turned upside down.

At the beginning I was able to express myself in different ways, such as the sports I played or the afterschool activities I signed up for.. However, when you are being told at a young age by family members, teachers and other respected authority figures in your life that the way you dress or the way you speak up for yourself is the way a boy should act rather than a girl, it can become very frustrating. 

Specifically speaking, in terms of my gender identity expressed through my clothes, I have always gravitated to comfort over style. Meaning I would rather wear a hoodie and some large shorts then a cute matching skirt and top. In middle school, I was told that the way I chose to express myself through clothing, was wrong. The issues that arose from this is that I was told that the way I chose to express myself through clothing, was wrong. That the way I chose to represent myself would perhaps “give off the wrong impression” of myself and my family. 

Society has set this unattainable standard for women in regards to the way we express our femininity. Wear a short dress but not too short. Wear makeup but not too much. Be polite but not too polite. Be successful but not in the way a man is. Speak up but never for yourself. Be slim but don’t let me see the infrastructure of your body. Don’t let me see your scars, your beauty marks or your imperfections. Hide them, be ashamed of the skin and body type you were given but be confident. Be yourself but let society dictate what your sense of self should look like.

The societal standard is hurtful and degrading to any woman who can’t perfectly fit herself into this standard. As someone who doesn’t fit into this standard, I struggle to grasp with a concrete definition of femininity. 

It wasn’t until I started my journey in high school that I realized that there isn’t a concrete definition of femininity. Femininity isn’t assigned to one gender, one race or one type of person. Femininity isn’t about dressing a certain way or acting a certain way. Femininity is built on the power to recognize the courage in showing emotions and vulnerability, the boldness in standing up for yourself, and the scars we’ve obtained along the way. Femininity isn’t a thing we can achieve, it’s something inside of each and every person.

That is my femininity.