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“I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a suit and heels.”

 

In recent blogs, I ruminated on the idea of innate femaleness, wondering if such a thing even exists. I have been reflecting on the differences between women who choose to beautify themselves and women who choose a more au natural look.

I believe that each of us holds within ourselves a standard of the ideal woman or at least a few images to suit our changing moods. Whether or not we choose to emulate those images is another matter. But to simply say that a woman “should” beautify herself for her own sake alone may be naïve and cavalier. This statement doesn’t take into consideration the mass female culture norms that bombard women every day through the advertising that contributes to shaping her inner view

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The Faceless Collage

Fifteen years ago, while exploring the concept of preening and femininity, I decided to assemble a collage. On one side of the collage I placed pictures of high heels, red lipstick and all things soft to represent women who choose to present themselves in that manner. On the other side of the collage, I selected pictures of women who choose to dress more casually and wear no makeup at all. In the middle I hung a faceless ragdoll. Underneath the ragdoll I wrote the words, “No matter which way I choose to present myself to the world, alone, that will not tell you or me who I really am.”

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Penchant for Pretty

It’s a girl! Ah, yes! I so want to assign my proclivity towards all things soft, sensually draped, dangly, pastel and sexy to some sort of inherent feminine trait. I want my love of makeup, cleavage and silk to be caused by my innate femaleness. However as I look at the variety of ways that women present themselves to the world, I find myself reflecting on the idea of innate femaleness, wondering if there is such a thing.

“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot!” — Marilyn Monroe

Observing my three daughters and three granddaughters over the years has only deepened my curiosity about the nature verses nurture debate of one’s inherited versus learned

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A Feminine Feminist

While the Second Wave of Feminism had not yet exploded, it was certainly smoldering in the early sixties. The movement is usually believed to have begun in 1963, when “Mother of the Movement” Betty Friedan published her bestseller The Feminine Mystique. It took a few years for the full blow explosion of the second ‘movement’ to be taken up by discontented women, especially housewives. It was unlike the First Wave of Feminism which had a primary focus on women’s right to vote, equality in property rights and changes in the marriage relationship.

We forget that our brave sisters who crusaded in the first wave fought not only for women’s right to vote but also for women’s right of ownership of her children should a divorce occur. Moreover, inconceivable as it may now seem, women had no legal recourse against rape by her husband. These are just a few of the hard earned women’s rights now secured by women in the United States.

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Sexy shoes or hiking boots?