Define Feminine, I’m Feminine

Purple Table Talk redefines femininity and disestablishes the ‘cool girl’ trope

Feminine or femininity, a set of attributes, behaviors, qualities, appearances, and roles generally associated with women and girls. The concept of femininity itself is a socially constructed set of behaviors that cultures and biological factors define as feminine. However, it is almost impossible to judge someone based on certain traits people deem as feminine. Therefore, trying to judge someone based on what one person’s view of femininity is, is akin to saying that a movie was good. While, yes, an action movie might be good to one person, another person may hate action movies and prefer romance or thrillers. Should that person determine what everyone else thinks of the movie? 

There are multiple views as to what feminine is, from the features a person has to the way they may speak. Does everyone who identifies as female have to conform themselves to how one random person off the street defines feminine? If so, then what about the next person? Should women conform themselves to what this next person defines as feminine? When exactly would the cycle of conformity and losing one’s true self end?

“When I say women, I mean women across all spectrums; whether you’re a transwoman, whether you’re a queer woman, whether you’re a woman of color. It doesn’t matter if you identify as female or as a woman; we are here to celebrate you, elevate you, and to center you,” proclaims Dr. Sherri Benn, Vice President for diversity, equity, and inclusion, during the Purple Table talk. 

Inspired by the Red Table Talk, a talk show featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris where different generations of women share their perspectives on a variety of topics. Tarleton hosts its own table talk named the Purple Table Talk, the first meeting or forum took place on March 23, 2022. With four different rounds of four panelists, we were able to experience both their experiences with experiencing life as a woman. Then everyone at their table was able to discuss their views as well. Even though it was an event for women’s history month and for women to share their experiences, other genders were also welcome to share their perspectives with no descrimination. This particular gathering was centered around the ‘cool girl’ trope in the media and how it affects women in life, relationships, and their perception of themselves. 

“For me, the problem with the cool girl is when you pretend to be something you are not,” Dana Fitzpatrick, director of Institutional Inclusive Programs and External Community Engagement, begins the discussion. “I also enjoy laying around watching T.V. and sports, but I will also cry at commercials. I think the problem is when you are trying to fit into a mold…rather than just simply being.” 

The discussion continues with the other panelists sharing their stories and similar versions of this. They share that the main issue is that the ‘cool girl’ is never authentic; she is trying to gain the male protagonist’s attention, and also that these women are not shown who they are entirely. It is not easy to be effortlessly beautiful, because more often than not it does take effort and that is not always showcased. Sharing that women are a mix of masculine and feminine but that should not be their definition. 

Paige Paulson, a member of the Delta Zeta sorority on Tarleton’s campus that serves on the executive board as the academic chairmen, includes, “I should be able to be me and do me. I should be able to play volleyball and beat all the boys, but also go to the DZ banquet and ‘pop off’, without losing respect!” 

Women oftentimes can feel trapped by the image of what they should become. Images shown in the media can be very harmful simply because every body, personality, and preference is not shown. Leaving some people feeling alienated. The pressure of having to measure up to the standards displayed over the media is what breaks most girls’ spirits and individuality. The panelists discussed their images of what a ‘cool girl’ is and how over time it has affected them. Forcing them to conform, break out of their shell, and discover themselves and what they want in their partners. 

Overall, the feeling of having to watch what you say to stay in line is detrimental to a person’s bodily image. Many women, like these panelists and those in attendance have felt in great deal the hardships social media or media stereotypes can do to a person. If the definition of femininity or being a cool girl is this elusive thing, then stop chasing it. Be who you are and that goes for everyone.