I shamed myself for being "too feminine," but that's not what feminism is about
I’m a big proponent of anything pink. I still want to be a Disney princess, and I love watching reality TV and reading fashion magazines. I’m in a relationship with a great guy, and I want to get married and have children someday. Does that make me a bad feminist?
Honestly, I used to really think so. I used to be ashamed when I found it charming when men would hold the door open for me, or when my boyfriend paid for dates or picked up heavy things for me. Shouldn’t I feel empowered doing those things for myself, rather than enjoying traditional gender norms?
When I would think about my future, I felt guilty for wanting the stereotypical Disney prince, or wanting to take my husband’s last name and be a doting mother. While I want a career of my own and independence, but a part of me still craved domesticity. I felt like a bad feminist because I didn’t know how to change the oil in a car or fix plumbing issues in my apartment.
I took pride in my writing, in makeup and dresses and pretty things. I felt happiest reading fashion magazines, getting my nails done, gossiping with friends, and squealing at cute dogs. But I felt like I had failed as a woman in that regard, that I was setting womanhood back 50 years. Fitting the stereotype of liking romance novels over video games, shopping sprees instead of sports and baking over heavy duty work made me feel like a bad feminist.
After seeing some of my closest friends and celebrities who identify as feminists embracing their femininity, I began to feel a lot better about my own version of feminism. Women like Beyoncé, Emma Watson, Nicki Minaj, and Laverne Cox find power in their femininity and strength in their beauty. Those women love lipstick and heels but can still dismantle the patriarchy at the same time, and I felt so empowered by that.
I learned that just because my version of enjoyable things might be different than other women doesn’t make me less of a feminist. Shaming other women for what they like and what they do with their lives is what makes someone a bad feminist.
I still have my doubts, dislikes, and insecurities about my myself and my womanhood just like everyone else. But I no longer feel ashamed for doing what I love. Feminism is about choices, and making sure that all people, regardless of race, class, religion or sexual orientation have a choice in what they do with their lives.
My choice was to be a Public Relations and Advertising major, and not a STEM major — not because of my gender but because it’s what I enjoy doing. My choice is to shop at Victoria’s Secret because their 7 for $27 is a bargain, and their clothes give me a confidence boost. I choose to shave my legs when I please, and wear dresses whenever I want. I choose to blast Justin Bieber songs in the car, marathon Say Yes to the Dress, and cry when I break a nail (because it really does hurt!).
But in return, I promise to never shame women for the choices they make in their lives. I will support women who want to be CEO’s, women who want to be homemakers, women who want to have a ton of children, and women who want to have no children. I will support women who dress “modestly” or “provocatively,” who enjoy cars and sports and beer or reading classic Russian literature. I will support women who cry at Nicholas Sparks movies, who can build a wood table from scratch, or who take hundreds of selfies.
I will support women who love themselves, and women who don’t, yet. What I will not do is try to put my life choices onto other women. I will not always agree with what a woman chooses to do, and that’s okay. Disagreement is not a punishment, and I will still respect them as a person regardless. We are complicated, multifaceted people with our own set of values, goals, desires and beliefs. We respect each other and our right to have a choice in our own lives no matter what.
That’s what it means to be a good feminist.