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Opinion: Last year was truly empowering for women who embrace their femininity

But let’s strive for more diversity this year…

I’ve always been somewhat of a stereotypical girly-girl.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated towards pink, make-up and gorgeous dresses – my mother still loves to retell the story of a four-year-old Bec refusing to wear pants in freezing cold weather.

Therefore, last year, I was thrilled. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so empowered as a woman who loves glitter, flowers, ribbons, bubble baths and all things girly…

Let me explain: Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour and the Barbie film made embracing femininity cool.

Thanks to Taylor, my Instagram and TikTok feeds were suddenly filled with women happily taking to their sewing machines and hot glue guns to create a costume for her tour.

Because of Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Australian Margot Robbie, I had to really restrict myself shopping-wise because suddenly every single store had copious amounts of cute clothes in various shades of pink.

But both Taylor, with her bedazzled bodysuits and sparkly knee-high boots, and Barbie, with its overly pink costuming and marketing campaign, did more than ‘superficial’ things for us girly-girls in 2023.

embracing femininity margot robbie in barbie

Taylor significantly lifted local economies around the world; according to Forbes, she boosted the US economy alone by more than US$5 billion.

The Mirrorball singer also proved she’s not afraid to bet on herself; something women are traditionally discouraged from doing.

How? Taylor cut out the middleman by bypassing studios and going straight to the distributor for her Eras Tour concert film.

I’m aware that was not the first time she’d taken a gamble; in 2019, she announced she would re-record her first six albums after the CEO of her former record label Scott Borchetta refused to sell her the masters and instead sold them to executive Scooter Braun, who she believed was trying to ‘dismantle’ her musical legacy.

But it’s inspiring that she not only decided to do it again last year, but that it paid off – Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour is now the highest-grossing concert movie of all time.

And as for Barbie, it broke the record for the most commercially successful film by a female director and started numerous thought-provoking conversations here in the ‘real world’ thanks to its social commentary on capitalism, feminism and the patriarchy.

Of course, while these are all impressive feats and I was, as aforementioned, incredibly empowered by them, I think it’s important to note that there’s still more work to be done when it comes to femininity being embraced.

For starters, it’s impossible not to notice that Taylor, Margot and Greta are all privileged, straight-sized, white women.

embracing femininity taylor swift

Just to be clear, I’m certainly not knocking Taylor, Greta or Margot’s efforts! (If it’s not already obvious, I’ve been a diehard Swiftie since 2008; Taylor can do no wrong, in my opinion.)

But I began reflecting on the past year in honour of International Women’s Day, and I’m now hoping that in 2024, being overly feminine will continue to be ~cool~ but we as a society also begin to champion a more diverse range of girly-girls.

For instance, actress and LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox, has long advocated for embracing femininity.

In 2014, Laverne was asked rather accusingly by the late, noted feminist Bell Hooks why she wore traditional feminine clothing – Bell believed high heels and makeup were a tool of the patriarchy.

But Laverne defended her choices and said, “This is where I feel empowered, ironically, and comfortable. I think it’s important to note that not all trans women are embracing this, but this trans woman does. And this trans woman feels empowered by this.”

Furthermore, while Taylor and the women of Barbie had great success last year, they still fell prey to inequality.

Taylor was constantly criticised for going and enjoying herself at her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s NFL games.

embracing femininity laverne cox

Whereas whenever Travis turned up at one of Taylor’s Eras Tour shows, he was praised for being a ‘perfect, supportive boyfriend.’

Greta directed the most successful film of 2023 and yet, she wasn’t nominated for Best Director at this year’s Oscars – a category where men make up four of the five 2024 nominations.

And Margot told Deadline in January that she planned to “disappear” after Barbie’s success.

“I also think everyone’s probably sick of the sight of me for now. I should probably disappear from screens for a while,” she said before adding:

“Honestly, if I did another movie too soon, people would say, ‘Her again? We just did a whole summer with her. We’re over it.’”

Did Leonardo DiCaprio disappear after Titanic? Did Christian Bale disappear after The Dark Knight? No.

All three of these women did a lot of good in 2023 but were still victims of a double standard.

Ultimately, in this self-proclaimed girly-girl’s opinion, it would be great to see the momentum Taylor and Barbie started in regards to championing femininity continue in the year ahead but with more defiance and diversity.

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