Femininity, Self Care, & Acne: Haphazard Musings About What It Means To Be A Woman

Today I feel cheap magazine cutout taped onto a Picasso painting. I feel like a toad, dry and bumpy, with a throat sore and cracking from croaking a sad song. I feel like someone is slowly turning down the music at the end of a long and difficult night.

Photo by Christian Widell on Unsplash

On Being Woman

I’ve always been told that I am a girl, and now I’m what some would consider a woman (when did that happen?) I’ve always held those two pieces of information as facts, but I haven’t fully reflected on what it means to be a woman.

Masculinity is a concept that easily takes up space in my mind, in my world - but since it’s never felt quite “becoming” for a woman to strongly identify herself, I haven’t ever expressed, even in a private journal, what womanhood means to me.

And it’s a hefty box to unpack. But I’ve been inspired by amazing women in my life - my high school and college female friends have all become women that I admire - and I’ve been slowly shaping my experiences as a woman into a personal definition of womanhood and femininity.

Better 28 years late than never?

I would say that much of my life, I’ve viewed the lot of the woman to be one of self-sacrifice with little reward. I grew up in the Midwest in a Catholic environment, so I don’t think that’s too far off - women were meant to be mothers.

It’s only just recently that I’ve started to become aware of how much of the sky women are holding up. We’re emotional laborers, physical laborers, spiritual laborers. We are leaders and supporters, and our power is truly undervalued.

I’m beginning to see women as artists, as fellow covert members of the emotionally burdened sisterhood. As strong and beaming and deserving of a serious break from all the work this world is sending our way.

Feminine + Masculine Energies

I’m starting to delineate my own energies - I see my soft feminine energies and my dominant masculine energies ebbing and flowing, and I’m only just now beginning to consider how I can nurture this balance and find some inner peace.

I’m working on celebrating my feminine, joyous, flirtatious side - seeking out frills and lace and dresses and bright colors. But I’m also working on embracing the masculine energies I’ve been ashamed of for so long (because I’ve been told it’s bad). I feel like I’m starting to walk with my left foot in an oxford and my right foot in a stilletto - it’s awkward and I’m not quite sure if I’ll get the hang of it.

I’ve found myself daydreaming about goddess stuff - crystals and earth tea and incense - and I’ve felt a little locked out of that definition of femininity. It almost feels like I have to have a certain level of grace or number of flowy robes to participate in that world.

A Lack Of Intentional Self Care

So to begin with, I’m getting a little more intentional about my self care routine. I bought new bras to replace my bras from high school because dammit Emily you can take care of yourself as a woman. For some reason, buying bras feels really strange to me because it’s a “feminine need” that shouldn’t get the same priority as other household needs.

In fact, I often hold back on purchases that would make my life better because I think I harbor some subconscious beliefs that I don’t deserve them. If it were my friend who needed something, I’d tell her to drop everything and purchase it immediately. I think a lot of my ideas around womanhood circle around this core belief: that it’s okay to nurture others, but it’s not okay to nurture yourself.

And even though I’ve become a crusader for women to take the time to care for themselves, I rarely do it for myself. 

So what would my ideal self care routine look like? I need to start digging a bit to find out what it will take to make me feel supported, nourished and nurtured by my own practice.

First of all, I have a lot of “only whens” that pop up. My first reaction was that I could only have a lovely skincare routine once my face is lovely & acne free. I’ve had terrible acne for at least 7 years, so honestly if I wait until it’s nice and smooth I’ll never have a skin care routine.

Zits Are A Bitch

I have some huge hangups about my acne and what that means for my femininity. It feels like a barrier to entry to the world I see my female friends living and thriving in. My acne makes me feel like I don’t deserve the investment of good makeup. It stains the idea of getting a new dress, because feeling sexy isn’t for me and my face.

This is all absurd, of course, because I see so many women with varying levels of acne who are radiant blooms of femininity, and I celebrate them. If another woman told me what I say to myself in the mirror every day, I would do everything in my power to convince her that she is a goddess.

But how come it’s not for me? Again, another huge well of emotions I need to dip my ill-equipped bucket into.

Why I'm So Flustered About Femaleness

This has been a really difficult post to write because my thoughts have not formed on this topic enough. I constantly feel like an outsider in my own sex/gender because I haven’t unlocked the secrets to it yet.

TMI alert: I think part of it has to do with the fact that I have never once in my life had a regular menstrual cycle. I get a period once every two or three or four months, and no doctor has ever jumped out of his or her skin to tell me that it’s not normal or that there is a solution other than putting me on birth control. That means I’m almost entirely disconnected from the routine and intuition that comes with knowing what your body is doing on every day of each month.

But it’s getting better - I’m learning to differentiate PMS mood swings from a true low point, which saves me a lot of grief. Obviously there are some hormonal and health issues that I’ll need to dive into once money is available. But then again I wonder - will I, as a woman, be sure to be my own advocate and seek the help I need, or will I live with symptoms past the unbearable point?

To end this on a brighter note...

I'll wrap this post up by saying this: I think there's hope, and there's space to grow into your identity. Your true identity will give you infinite space to fill it up and rejoice in it, it's just kind of waiting for you to meet it.

Today has felt like hours of scooping up water and squeezing it in my hands - I've been able to contain things, but not grasp them. And if you've read this full post, my heart thanks you and reminds you that you totally didn't have to. This is one of those "write crappy words, and write lots of them" days!

So I guess then I need some help - what does being a woman mean to you? Is it an easy question for you to answer?