What is femininity? If you asked me 6 months ago, I would have said it’s high heels, dresses and a ridiculous love for pink.
If I am honest, I would have been a bit judgemental about it all.
I prefer to focus on rolling around in mud and playing in the hills.
Growing up I was never a “girly girl”, but over the years I enjoyed looking after my appearance, having fun with clothes, dabbling with fake tan during my uni days and at one point even dying my hair blue (true story).
Then three years ago I stopped wearing make-up.
And gradually I also stopped putting any thought into what I call my “adult clothes”. Basically, anything I had to wear at work.
If a social occasion called for a dress and heels, I moaned, thinking I was above all that (yes I was a bit of a dick).
And it’s only recently that I’ve realised incidents that took place in an old job around that time, probably triggered some of these changes. (with anything in life it’s never just one thing).
Now, before I go any further, I want to make one thing VERY clear.
In my opinion, any form of singling somebody out because of their gender is wrong, even if someone thinks it’s a joke or compliment. So, if you have ever laughed at a “get back in the kitchen” joke, or think the world has gone “too politically correct”, then this isn’t the place for you.
I am not going to bore you with the in and outs of the months of problems, however I’ll give you the headline issues. One of these things on their own, I would have looked past, however after months of them all, I had enough.
- Regularly being referred to as the “pretty face on the front desk”. Even after I asked not to be called that.
- Being called gorgeous, beautiful and a pretty little thing, by one contractor every time I spoke to him, which made me feel very uncomfortable. My appearance had zero to do with my capability to do my job.
- Telling my male manager about said contractor, and him doing absolutely nothing about it. Even though I explained it made me feel uncomfortable, especially when I was often in the office alone with the contractor.
- Then, the final straw, was when male two colleagues in another office took a picture of me from the Christmas night out, printed it off and stuck it in another guys leaving card. The card was then passed around the other large office. Their reasoning, because the guy who was leaving had a thing for me.
I can remember my first response when I was told about the card.
I blamed myself, thinking I shouldn’t have been so chatty with them at the Christmas party and shouldn’t of worn that red dress.
One thing to highlight, by this point I had been happily with Jamie for 5 years and simply thought I was being friendly to my fellow colleagues. I raised the issue with the central HR team and thankfully they took it seriously.
I’m well aware people experience much much worse in the workplace, however being treated like this in a male dominant company wasn’t a pleasant experience.
I left the job shortly after the card incident.
Looking back, I can pretty much track the main changes from that time. I began rejecting anything I thought of as feminine.
It started off with just work stuff and then slowly crept into other aspects of my life.
To stay balanced in all of this, I do think my running also had an impact. As I now care less about what my body looks like and more about what it can achieve.
I do however think there became an unhealthy negativity to anything I classed as “feminine”.
Maybe I just wanted to avoid being in situations like in my old job again.
Like EVERYTHING I talk about on here, it’s all about striking a balance.
In the last year I’ve found times where I’ve missed having fun with my adult clothes.
I can wear bright fun workout gear, but for some reason my funeral dress has become a work staple (true story).
I still don’t know exactly what it is, but I am having to re-think my whole approach to femininity.
If someone likes to wear make-up, cool.
If someone doesn’t want to wear high heels, cool.
If someone loves being covered in mud up a hill, cool.
As long as all these things come from a place of happiness and self-worth then who cares what is or isn’t classed as traditionally feminine.
So where do I go from here? Am I going to start blogging about make-up?
Most likely not.
I’m still going to champion loving our bodies for the things they can achieve, and am still likely to turn up to work most days with sweaty hair and no make-up.
But, I am going to remember that having fun with a bit of make-up and new clothes isn’t going to cause bad things to happen!
Hopefully sharing my experiences can make us all think, even for a small moment about how we treat ourselves and other.
Because, male or female, feminine or masculine we all deserve to feel happy in our own bodies and express that in whatever way feels best for us.
Currently: A bit nervous about sharing this personal blog.
Training today: Gentle 5k and wild swim, this weather is BLISS.
Adventure this week: Foxtrail’s mysterious Project X. Anyone else going?