According to Adia Harvey Wingfield, professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, it can be a “powerful choice to identify” as a feminine black woman, particularly in a world that does not afford black women the right to be vulnerable, soft, beautiful, carefree and elegant. Being feminine isn’t just an act of defiance against a problematic society that regularly practices misogynoir—it is also freeing and exhilarating and fun.
1. Recognize That Femininity Is Powerful And It’s Not A Crime To Feel Beautiful
Black women have been stereotypically cast and represented as loud, rude, ugly, unkempt and masculine, stereotypes which were created to justify their mistreatment. Unfortunately, though slavery has ended, the stereotypes which began during that time period still plague black women today and sometimes we black women may feel unworthy of calling ourselves feminine or beautiful. However, developing the confidence to fully embrace our femininity is a way to resist and reshape those stereotypes and turn the narrative in our favor.
2. Embrace Your One-of-A-Kind Beauty and Practice Self-Love
While black women continue to be underrated and undervalued, this is beginning to change, thanks to the internet, blogs, Instagram and YouTube. Our natural coils, kinks and locs are constantly being portrayed as beautiful and feminine on Instagram. Even if you don’t feel so sure about your own individual beauty, embrace your features, your natural hair and your body type. Embracing your phenotype will help you find clothes you love, accessorize properly and develop your own unique fashion sense. According to black beauty blogger Scheena Donia, black girls “must learn to love ourselves in the first place and not wait for people to validate our well-being. If you feel beautiful and confident, you can accomplish everything!"
3. Pamper Yourself & Invest In Quality Beauty Products
My mother is extremely feminine and she taught me how important it is to set aside time to be pampered on a regular basis. Instead of doing amateur wax jobs at home, find a quality salon and have it done by a qualified professional. Spa pedicures and facials will not only improve your outer appearance, but they’ll also boost your mood and confidence. Femininity and beauty aren’t just about how you look—they’re also about how you feel. It’s important to choose quality beauty products that are natural and healthy for your skin. It’s also important to remember not to cake on makeup—less is more.
4. Inspect Your Wardrobe
If a look into your closet makes you grimace instead if smile, it may be time to reevaluate your style and make some changes. While you don’t have to go shopping for glitzy and glamorous outfits if your style is more casual and simple, there are still plenty of ways to dress femininely and feel beautiful. As long as you truly love and enjoy wearing the pieces in your closet, you’re on the right track!
5. Don’t Shy Away From Dresses and Skirts
It can be tempting to tie your hair into a loose, messy bun and hide behind frumpy sweatpants, but don’t be afraid to wear clothes that highlight and flatter your body shape. Nothing flatters a girl’s figure more than a dress or a skirt. There are so many different types of skirts and dresses, from flowy skirts, pencil skirts, mini-skirts and pleated skirts, to classic black dresses, laced dresses, maxi dresses, flared dresses and many more. Set a challenge to wear a dress or a skirt more often and watch your femininity begin to blossom.
At first it may feel awkward to start wearing dresses and skirts more regularly, but eventually you’ll begin to feel more relaxed in your new outfits and rely less on your old sweatpants for comfort. Still, not every woman is a big fan of dresses and skirts and that’s okay too. Instead, consider purchasing elegant, well-fitted pants or jeans that compliment your body shape.
6. Focus On Your Health & Hygiene
Maintaining good personal hygiene is important for your personal and social life, your mental and physical health and your overall quality of life. It also prevents the development of infections, sicknesses and foul odors. Remember to brush your teeth after every meal and shower at least once a day. For me, nothing marks the start of a new day like the application of a sweet-scented moisturizer and a little spritz of body mist (or perfume). To prevent premature aging and keep your skin well moisturized and healthy, begin to develop an infallible skincare routine, drink plenty of water and adjust your diet to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and healthy grains.
Doctors also recommend approximately 150 minutes of exercise per week. Likewise, mental health is an extremely important aspect of life that influences our femininity and sense of self-worth. If you are struggling with low self-esteem, depression or some form of mental illness, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional and develop a treatment plan. Don’t let depression take away the joy of feeling and expressing your femininity!
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."