A woman with high heels, lipstick, a nicely pressed dress with an apron and a string of pearls around the neck holding an apple pie that just came out of the oven.
A woman wearing running sneakers, mesh shorts and hair tied back with a headband soaking up sweat from jogging 5 miles.
With the music blasting, a woman has on flannel pajamas, no make-up and a laptop open to photoshop finishing a logo design.
What do all these scenarios have in common?
They all express forms of femininity.
Modern femininity is a characteristic associated with the expectation of womanliness.
Over the generations women have forged the path to gaining equality for the gender. Although the path still has progress to be made, women of today’s society are changing the traditional view of what constitutes as feminine.
“I feel feminine all the time,” junior integrative media major, Kahdijah Venable, said. “When I’m just chilling in my apartment by myself with my hair looking gross, I feel that’s the true ,natural look of femininity. Then when I feel like dressing up and making my appearance to the public I feel feminine.”
The topic of being comfortable in one’s own skin is expressed in the appearance of femininity.
“I always wear makeup. Sometimes it looks more natural, but it’s still there. I put effort into my hair, unless I’m wearing it down. My hair is very long, which is usually considered to be feminine,” Annie Stauffer, junior integrated media major said.“I love jewelry, and you’ll never see me without it. I love patterns and I love wearing clothes that show off my feminine shape.”
Although Stauffer puts time and effort into her appearance she wanted to make it clear that it is to make herself feel good.
“I do not do this (form of expression) for others to see, but because it makes me feel much more feminine to be able to see my curves when I look in the mirror. When I look ‘feminine’ and ‘pretty’, I feel good. I want to make it clear, I don’t do any of that for anyone but me.”
When it comes to the expression of one’s femininity, the only person one should seek approval from is one’s self.
Venable adds, “I think there are a lot of different ways you could express femininity.”
All women express femininity based on their own personal preferences.
“Through my appearance, I sometimes put on eyeliner and mascara while dressing ‘girly’ in a way. When I do feel like dressing feminine, I’ll wear a nice colorful top, leggings and a scarf. I attempt to do my make-up and hair when I feel like it,” Venable said.
Clothing seems to be an easy way to express femininity even in terms of everyday activities.
“Women in sports, whether professional, school-related, or recreational sports, seem to express their femininity by wearing bright, “girly” colors a lot,” Stauffer said. “The clothes women wear for workouts are often tight, showing off their shape. It seems like a lot of women’s sports clothing is designed to be sexy. I don’t think all female athletes wear this, of course, but I see some who do.”
In society, colors are a huge element used to express whether something is considered feminine or masculine. Designs for different products represent that truth.
“When designing a more feminine piece, I like to use bright colors. Sometimes I use pink, but it depends on whether or not pink is appropriate for the piece,” Stauffer said. “I like to use more organic lines and give the piece a more playful look. For feminine pieces, I’ve often chosen beauty topics as the focus of my design. I have a few that are not related to beauty, however.”
There is a stigma that lighter colors are deemed as being feminine in our society. For reasons of producing something that is universally this stigma has lasted the course of time.
“In making a feminine design I try to use various lighter colors like pastels or pinks, corals and light oranges, but nothing really dark. I use a lot of circles and nontraditional shapes. I mainly base it off colors,” Venable said. “When we see designs like my backpack for example is pink, coral like so you think girl. We see female products that are these colors; so looking for a color code for a feminine design you instantly drawn to these colors.”
Society continues to influence how femininity is expressed, but many have become much more conscious of the roles outside forces are playing.
“That’s just what we see everyday; we’re conditioned to those associations,” Venable added.