Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Being A Woman (Part 2)

Pink stinks!  The phrase echoed through the subconscious of my childhood, ever reminding me that it was not cool to be feminine.

Among my older sisters, tomboy was in and girly girl was out.  We were rough and tough and could keep up with our five brothers on most everything.  We did not do nails or makeup.  Dying hair was unheard of and none of us ever stepped foot in a salon.  We ran pell mell over hay fields, through the barn, and into the creek like nobody's business.

Though the 'pink stinks' jibe was only meant in fun, it represented the tomboy attitude which seemed such a noble trait in the family.  Not that I did not have the most enjoyable childhood ever, loving the outdoors and nitty gritty camping, yet deep down the tomboy nature was not really me.  I liked pink and flowing dresses.  I liked high heels and all things pretty.  I played with dolls.  Yet, over the years, I had squelched my true preferences because I felt that everything about me was wrong, that my likes or dislikes were secondary to what was acceptable.   I didn't want to be thought prissy and was redeemed by my athletic tendencies, displaying strength and independence, certainly capable of opening a door for myself.

My mom seemed my only advocate on this point.  I remember her as tough to the core, but at the same time, accepting her womanhood.  When she passed away, this is one area in which I felt the sting.  I had lost the one person in the family who accepted and understood pink and frills.  Though my Dad honors women and admires his daughters more than just about anyone, he is not one I could look to for guidance on girly matters.  (No offense, Dad.  However, your compliment on the pink dress at your wedding made my heart smile.  Thanks.)

My family at my Dad's wedding.
Though she was a superb model for inward beauty, it was hard for my mom to offer much instruction for the outside because of her Mennonite upbringing.  And yes, it might not sound very spiritual, but the outside does, indeed, matter.  When I got married, God provided just what I needed in a mother-in-law.  She took me under her wing and helped me with all things girly, such as color, style, accessories, and makeup.  I worked up the courage to go to a hairdresser, although to this day it is still a somewhat terrifying experience.  But my mother-in-law gave me great confidence as a woman.

Our culture is comfortable and casual.  In some circles, dressing up is often made fun of and considered stuffy.  Don't get me wrong, my normal attire around the house is jeans and a t-shirt.  But somewhere between brash or loose, and dumpy or frumpy, there has to be a balance of true beauty.  Within that balance we must give ourselves permission to be women and not feel inferior.  

I tell you this because I believe our daughters need encouragement in grace and femininity.  Sometimes the culture, while shouting women's equality with men, can push our daughters to be masculine and result in rejecting some aspects of their womanhood. 

Fathers, please be careful of promoting this.  Girls can sense what their fathers admire or what they think is silly, and oh how a daughter longs to be loved by her father.  She will do anything to gain his approval.  But our girls need to know that it is okay, and in fact, good, to be feminine.  A woman is not less than a man, only different, and she portrays God's image in a unique way.  It should be celebrated and encouraged, not looked down upon or made fun of.

However, this does not mean that every girl will like lace and frills, or that we should promote a 'spoiled brat princess' mentality in the name of femininity.  In fact, two out of my three daughters have turned out rather tomboyish in personal taste.  Yet, they do not try to be one of the boys and are comfortable in how they are made as women.  Furthermore, femininity is not all about the outward appearance, but rather an attitude of mind and heart, an acceptance of who we are.   

I have since given myself permission to have an opinion, even it it means I like pink.  However, feminine does not equate to fragile or helpless.  I want my daughters to be strong and capable, but I don't want them to feel they must show up the guys to prove their identity.  As women, we can be content with the way God made us.  I'm grateful to be a woman and trust I can teach my daughters the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment