Strength & Femininity: Not Mutually Exclusive

Reprinted with permission from The Odyssey Online. 

Women who harness the balance of strength and femininity master such a beautiful way of life.

Last week, I was having a cocktail at a bar in a Vegas hotel. I was wearing a two-piece skirt ensemble with wedges, my hair was curled, I had lipstick on and I was drinking a glass of bourbon. There was a handsome young man sitting next to me. He started chatting with me. During conversation, I made a comment about being a strong woman. Immediately, his facial expression looked shocked or even disgusted. He said, “You think you’re a strong woman?” I told him I know I am. He asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a playboy bunny and 10 being Margaret Thatcher, how strong of a women do you think you are?” I answered a 7. His demeanor continued to seem shocked and he said, “Wow, that’s intense. That takes away your femininity.”

I had to glance at my phone and around the room to make sure we were still in 2016. I looked him in the eye and said, “I am a very feminine woman. There is nothing I love more than being feminine and sexy but I’m also very strong and completely independent.”

Being strong and feminine are not mutually exclusive. Women and men both need to realize there is nothing sexier than a strong woman. Young girls should not be taught they need to choose strength or femininity. I was sitting there, looking the feminine part – dress, heels, lipstick, hair curled but yet I’m deemed not feminine solely because I said I was a strong woman. I do not speak in an overbearing manner. I am not harsh and masculine.
A woman who can harness the beautiful balance of strength and femininity is unstoppable.

I absolutely love that I can do anything on my own. I love traveling on my own, I love hiking and exploring new places on my own. I don’t NEED anyone. I am a 26-year-old woman. I moved halfway across the country to start a new life on my own.I have a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication. I am the director of sales and marketing for a company. I write as a freelancer. I am finishing grad school online via the University of Oklahoma. I am educated. I am sassy. I am flirtatious. I love being independent but I also love when a man opens a door for me or wraps his arms around me. I love looking sexy and feminine.I am not afraid to go anywhere on my own. Most days I am sporting heels and lipstick. I can hold my own in a meeting of men. I am not afraid to voice my opinion. I also love sending hand-written cards, sealing them with a kiss. I enjoy shooting guns and riding four-wheelers. I also enjoy fancy dinners and champagne. I can build things with my hands but also like a pretty manicure. I can mow my own grass. I am strong AND feminine.

When I was a little girl, I watched my mom do it ALL on her own. She worked multiple jobs to provide for me. She would bring me along to her college classes at night because she had no option. She had me at 16 years old. She immediately joined the National Guard (2 tours in Iraq) and later became a police officer. I watched her do it all. I remember going to my friends’ homes when I was little and their moms were so dependent on their dads. They couldn’t imagine putting together a piece of furniture or mowing the lawn. I always thought that was silly. Mom and I were putting together a shelf one day and I looked at her and said, “See mom, we don’t need men. We can do anything.” That has been my motto going forward.

In my opinion, it is much more desirable to WANT someone rather than NEED them. I never want to NEED to depend on a man. Doesn’t it make it more special if I want him rather than need him? If I can be his partner rather than his subordinate?

 

The world has taught women they need to choose strength or femininity. Many women who choose strength seem to think they need to be more masculine to succeed. Previously, I worked for BOK Financial. My boss was the Chief Operating Officer for the wealth management division.She truly taught me what it meant to embody strength and femininity in a way I’d never seen. She was a wife, a mother, and a brilliant executive. She was always well-polished and beautiful. She loved trendy skirts, classic dresses, gorgeous heels and fabulous lipstick but she could run a meeting full of men just as naturally. She was strong, intelligent and feminine. She is such an instrumental role model in my life. Other women who were her peers, seemed to think in order to be successful in the “good ole’ boys club” as a strong woman, they had to strip their femininity. These women succumbed to plain pantsuits and masculine tendencies simply because they thought that was necessary. What a shame that’s the message in this country in 2016.

 

I know there are many out there who share my love of “Scandal” with Kerry Washington. Olivia Pope’s role is how I see my own goal of blended strength and femininity. She holds her own, she is strategic, intelligent, beautiful, gentle when necessary and so very chic.

I also look at our recent superstar women’s gymnastics team- The Final Five. Those girls and women are so strong but also so feminine in each of their own ways. They have the grit and strength to endure physical and emotional battles as gymnasts yet still embrace their femininity. Gabby Douglas was swooning over Zac Efron’s kiss on the cheek in pure feminine form right after she went beast mode on the floor. Those are the types of role models little girls need. Those are real goals to pursue.

Zac Efron/Twitter

I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with other strong and feminine women. Most of my friends are such a beautiful combination of both. These women are educated, independent and headstrong but also embrace their femininity and are willing to let me dote on them.

 

The best tools we have as women are femininity and strength. Now don’t get me wrong. I understand each woman has her own dreams. Some women want to be stay-at-home moms, others want to be teachers. Not all women are meant to be executives or businesswomen. I also understand not all women like to wear heels or lipstick. Strength and femininity are not one size fit all. That is the beauty of both strength and femininity. Each woman has the power to be whatever version of strong and feminine she wants. My hope is that we stop teaching little girls they have to choose one or the other and we stop teaching boys one is right over the other. I encourage each girl and woman to find her own sense of strength and femininity and embrace it.

 -by Bailey Martindale
The Odyssey Online
 bailey

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