By Caroline Zwick

Before I dive into this article, I would like to ask you to check in with yourself: What comes up for you when you hear the term ‘feminine’ or ‘femininity’? What does being ‘feminine’ mean to you? How do you express your ‘femininity’?

Do you think of billboard models, perfectly shaped gym bodies, fake breasts, sexy lingerie or perhaps you think of your grandmother or artsy aunt? Just pay attention what images come up for you and what you associate with this term ‘femininity’.

What I have observed from my work with my clients is that many brilliant, successful women feel uncertain about what ‘femininity’ means to them and, in particular, how they themselves express their femininity.

Oftentimes, my female clients are surprised that this topic comes up in my coaching programs. However, I have found the discussion about ‘femininity’ to be an absolutely essential one when we are looking to find our own voices. Most women I work with feel distant from the word ‘feminine’ and subscribe it to be applicable to the way the media portrays women: perfect looks and forever unattainable.

One subtle yet key element to realize in regard to this portrayal of women in the media, is that we are being taught to look at ourselves through external eyes instead of taking in our whole appearance through our own eyes. Furthermore, that external observer is usually male.

In essence, women are taught to look at themselves and judge their looks through the eyes of a male on-looker.

So, when asked how we feel about our own femininity, many women experience an out-of-body experience, because they are adopting a male viewpoint instead of remaining anchored in their own female bodies.

That means that ever so often women try to be more feminine from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. Needless to say this approach is unlikely to lead to an authentic sense of ‘being feminine.’

So, the question remains, how can you make changes to this pattern and reclaim your own femininity?

Here are 3 simple ways to get you started:

1.   Change the voice you use when you judge your looks in the mirror to that of a woman you admire instead of a guy you are trying to impress.

2.   When you think about your own femininity, go beyond the visual. How does your own feminine body feel? Your shoulders, your hips, your back, your neck, your fingers, your belly… you might find that you have to relax and soften your belly in order to really feel into it.

3.   Speak with your own (feminine) voice. When something feels off, act on it. Your intuition is there for a reason, so trusting that you –in your own body- can navigate your own way through this world, is fundamental in creating a close and loving relationship with your whole self –your femininity included.

Be gentle with yourself. This is a process and an exciting exploration, not a push-of-a-button kind of thing.

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