Why It’s Important for Everyone to Embrace Femininity
I was never a fan of Harry Styles until he feuded with Candace Owens because of his choice to wear traditional women’s clothing in Vogue back in December 2020. He described his wardrobe in the magazine as an extended part of creating something. To him, it was creative freedom attributed to the crumbling barrier between women’s and men’s clothing.
To me as a woman, it was a much-needed homage to femininity.
I don’t know about you but as a Millennial, I cringe at the thought of my middle and high school life as a girl. There’s also a little bit of guilt attached to the memories even as a 30-year-old. Why? Because like many Millennial women, I was Not like other girls girl— an equivalent of today’s pick-me-girl.
Being one of the boys was actually cool in the 2000s. If you speak like a girl, act like a girl, dress like a girl, too emotional like a girl, you’re out. This is why I was super offended when I was deemed very feminine by my classmates.
I’ve always been very “girly” because of the way I carry myself. I’m very proud of it now but back in the 2000s, I tried my best to become a tomboy. And on top of my failing efforts to change my whole personality, I was also projecting left and right, up and down: I despised feminine girls like me.
Millennials’ sins in the 2000s
Sure, we had feminine fashion icons like Britney, Paris, or Lindsay, but we didn’t really consider them to be role models. Being feminine was often associated with being dumb, or shallow — as explicitly explained in Pink’s hit song in 2006, Stupid Girl.
What happened to the dreams of a girl president
She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
They travel in packs of two or three
With their itsy bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees
Sadly, Pink wasn’t the only sexist female artist back then. Taylor Swift, who publically declared herself a feminist back in 2014, wrote You Belong With Me in 2009 with lines like, “but she wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts” and “she wears high heels, I wear sneakers.”
Of course, she’s a well-rounded feminist now and has been for years, but can you imagine the influence of this type of song on girls back then?
When artists ridiculed traditionally feminine women more than a decade ago, girls and women didn’t stop to assess who gained from women hating each other or who lost from women being empowered. Instead, we became sexist ourselves because we were told over and over again that being a feminine woman meant that you are less of a person.
A step in the right direction
While I can still see traces of the Not Like Other Girls trend online, young women today are champions when it comes to supporting each other. The older generations of women like me have also retired from being pick-me-girls and we are now proud supporters of women.
However, we still have a lot of work to do because many still perceive femininity as a less desirable quality and thus devalue women as a whole. This manifests in many forms including inequality at the workplace. According to this research, women are more likely to be seen as incompetent because of their gender at work. And according to this study, women are less likely than men to be seen as brilliant.
Now when the opposite sex with a huge influence like Harry Styles begins to embrace femininity through his wardrobe choice, it sends a signal to the world that femininity isn’t bad. It’s a small yet helpful step in our fight for gender equality because maybe, just maybe, by wearing a skirt as a man, Styles can help disassociate femininity from negative traits like weak, unstable, or dumb.
Yes, it’s sad that women can’t stop people from gender-stereotyping, all by themselves — but it’s the reality. Someone who’s so fine with sexism won’t listen and change because of women’s pleas or punishments. That’s why women need allies.
It’s important to note that Styles's bold move was made possible thanks to the LGBTQ+ community who have explored fluidity in fashion for a long time.
Now, if you are a man reading this, ready to attack me for telling you to wear a skirt, let me tell you that it’s not my intention. I’m not telling anyone to wear anything they are uncomfortable with wearing. But I am asking you to help eliminate the negative stereotypes that are attached to women and femininity.
Maybe for you, that means changing your vernacular like don’t be such a p*ssy or grow a pair.
And don’t forget don’t be such a girl or the old-time favorite question for couples, who wears the pants in the relationship?
We should all acknowledge that these statements devalue women and girls and we should stop using them. Of course, changing your everyday language alone isn’t enough to combat everyday sexism but it certainly helps especially if you also speak out against it.
And because it’s such a small behavioral change, anyone can do it. Starting today.
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