“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
― Claude Monet

{CW: the complexity of gendered beauty, body image}

I have fought my femininity for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t raised to embrace it because brains always trump beauty in my family’s collective philosophy. But can’t we have both? How am I in my late thirties and only now beginning to feel comfortable when expressing my love of florals and pink lipstick? And that’s to say nothing of the complexity of what the world deems feminine, vs what it does not – that’s another post for another day – but regardless of “the rules”, can’t I just be comfortable, regardless? Why is it so hard?

I have never doubted or questioned my gender and I am confidently and comfortably cis, in fact I have always felt deeply connected to being a woman but the expected external signs and symbols of femininity that we are told should match our gender, have been tough to navigate. I got to thinking about this after a convo with Gemma the other day and it prompted me to really think of all the ways that I have avoided and suppressed “traditional femininity” when really, I was dying to express it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how deep and dark this stigma is. In part, being cis, you don’t even realize how normal your normal is, because it is celebrated and “normalized” in media and culture. It’s not been easy to just choke on and swallow feelings that deviate from that narrative.

Here are some things I have sometimes thought, felt and done, for fear of being “too girly” or “too feminine” as a cis woman:

  • avoided makeup altogether or makeup that was anything but minimal with neutral colours
  • sworn off skirts and dresses because I didn’t want people to think I thought I was the kind of girl that wore them (I still don’t even know what this means but it has to do with body image and confidence too)
  • chosen utility over aesthetics even though it was stressful or made me anxious, often because of some sensory issues I have with textures and fabrics
  • automatically assumed, or was cornered into, a more “masculine” role in same-sex relationships and liaisons
  • experienced anxiety and fear that I was not feminine enough in hetero relationships
  • overly feminized and sexualized my “look” with deep cleavage, red lipstick, etc. as an attempt to bypass “feminine” and go straight to “tough sexy bitch in complete control”
  • struggled intensely in the context of both D/s roles because I couldn’t tap into my soft pastel feels of being a subby babygirl and I couldn’t muster enough “divine feminine” energy to fuel me when topping
  • lived in neutral/traditionally masculine colours, both in terms of decor and clothing, when all I wanted was pink or purple everything
  • experienced really emotionally charged highs and lows around being “allowed” to embrace traditional femininity (any excuse to be “pretty” is both terrifying and really, really exciting)
  • grudgingly accepted, internalized and resented any and all critique

There are more examples, but you get the idea. Hell, even Lingerie Is For Everyone stresses me out occasionally because sometimes I feel fraudulent in lingerie, or worse, that I’m so mismatched with it that I look ridiculous. It’s hard but I’m trying.

Another list, this time with strategies and things I’m trying to do to become more comfortable and less self stigmatizing:

  • I bought some really beautiful, soft, floral bedding that I love
  • even if I’m at home alone and I have a “girly” moment, I try to accept and embrace it (an easy way is to pause what I’m doing, change into something softer or more “feminine”, put on some makeup, etc.)
  • positive self talk when I’m feeling or enacting more traditional femininity
  • embracing and expressing my bisexuality and the role it seems to have in all of these feelings and anxieties
  • embracing the term “Femme” even though I feel like everyone will think I’m an interloper
  • trying not to default to solid coloured clothes in black, grey and blue because patterns are fun!
  • working on fundamentally accepting that all of it is “right” if it feels right for me and that shifting tastes, expression and sense of identity can be fluid without being disruptive.

So here I am: my inner “girly girl” was on fire this morning so I snapped the pic above and immortalized my creamy skin and curves, wrapped in gauzy florals, on the soft cottony background of big, pink roses and wildflowers. Because I can. Because I am whatever it is that this signifies. Because I’m a late bloomer when it comes to accepting feminity, but I’m doing my very best to lovingly tend my own garden.


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Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.

14 thoughts on “Late Bloomer”

  1. What a lovely post, and a delightful picture too. Glad you are finally embracing what you are feeling. Often our biggest obstacles are in our own minds and then bolstered by society. It takes a lot of courage and strength to break those down, and it sounds like you have.

    For me this continues to be a huge challenge and I continue to fight to fully accept who I am, but stories like yours provide inspiration.

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement and for commenting. It really is a journey, isn’t it? Keep it up, though!

  2. We are all so multifaceted, and we should embrace all of our sides, be they “acceptable” or not (as long as that doesn’t mean intentionally harming another, of course…those sides need to be dealt with). I, personally, can relate with a lot of what you have written. A lot of us girls were raised to be tomboys, because masculine qualities were prized over feminine. It’s hard to break those chains. It’s one of the things that submissive frees me from. My femininity is a crowning glory in my role as submissive wife.

    I’m glad you are embracing your feminine side. We need pink and purple feels just as much as red and gray. Our softness can be our strength.

  3. Hey Violet, I love seeing your feminine side. Strangely enough my post this week is how I grew towards loving lingerie from quite a ‘tomboy’ stance in my younger life. I love floral patterns and purple is my favourite colour – pink is OK if it’s hot pink, I am not a pastel pink kinda gal (due to my colouring) and I dont like too many frills on my clothes but … I have my moments.

    Brigit is right – we have many facets so I don’t rule anything out. For accessories and decor I choose colours which make me feel uplifted but not jangled.

  4. This is a fascinating post – thank you so much for sharing it with us! I definitely relate to parts of this: for a long time my own internalised misogyny made me feel bad when I enjoyed “traditionally” girly things – like skirts! This post is really vulnerable and beautifully written, and I’m so glad you’re practicing self acceptance and embracing your femininity.

  5. I have never done a deep dive into my own reasons for not being in touch with my feminine side, but I definitely recognize myself in your post. I, too, come from a family where intelligence is prized above all else — it still is, but most of us have lightened up or become enlightened enough to understand we can embrace all parts of ourselves. By babygirl self was difficult to embrace at first, primarily because of the engrained ideas I had about maturity, but I’ve also come to learn my babygirl self is also a way to embrace the way I express my feminine self. And I’m still, very much, on that journey to throw off old ways of thinking and embrace all the parts of who I am.

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