How Intentional Self-Care Can Increase Your Femininity

Getting a manicure

Have you ever left the house in grungy clothes, without your hair or makeup done, because you thought you wouldn’t see anyone you know? This mindset seems common among young women. Modern-day dress codes are remarkably relaxed compared to what they were a couple of generations ago. (Don’t even get me started on leggings!) Unless you work in a traditional corporate environment, you probably don’t have to dress up regularly. And by “dressing up,” I don’t just mean wearing business clothes; I mean putting time into your hair, making sure your hands are manicured, and polishing your shoes. Think about it – when was the last time you polished a pair of shoes?!

Say No to Leggings

On top of this generational change, we feel as though we can be especially careless when no one is around. Working from home? Why not stay in your pjs! Staying in to catch up on chores? Forgo the morning routine!

These habits may seem harmless; maybe even an improvement from the rigorous appearance expectations of generations past, but they may be diminishing our femininity. Plus, what message do you communicate to others (and to yourself) when you only feel the need to look nice when you will see specific people? It seems to me that this whispers the idea that I am “less” on my own; that my value comes through being validated by others. This is clearly a degrading idea when written out on paper, so why do we behave this way? Trading self-care for convenience subtly eliminates our unique feminine aura that make us so different from men.

To remedy this problem, I suggest that we start putting more effort into our looks for the sake of ourselves. I personally struggle with this because I’m a very low-maintenance person. When left to my own devices, my appearance turns into a frizzy, wrinkled mess. I’ve even worn clothes that smelled like mildew because I was too lazy to remove my clothes them from the washing machine in time! This behavior may be suitable for a male college student, but certainly not for a feminine woman. And I definitely don’t want to bring these habits into my future marriage. If you also hope to be married, realize that marriage won’t change you into a new person with new habits. That is why we must improve ourselves now.

If you live in a cold climate, winter is the perfect time to put some self-care into practice. I’ve started to regularly exfoliating my skin by making homemade sugar scrub with three ingredients: granulated sugar, essential oil (lavender works great), and an oil, such as olive or coconut. I’m actually killing two birds with one stone because the scrub is a handy way to use up the refined sugar I’m trying to cut out of my diet. Another habit to pick up in the dead of winter when there’s nothing going on is to draw a relaxing, hot bath. Add Epsom salts and essential oils to your bath water to detoxify and relax. If you’re really feeling motivated, light some candles and put some music on. After a few nights of treating yourself to these mini spa sessions, the week won’t seem normal without them!

So what I’ve learned from this experiment in self-care for the sake of self-care is that when you treat yourself poorly when you’re alone, it really does affect your outlook. Taking time to treat yourself well can very possibly “change your life,” because even though others may not notice, you will know that you’re wearing underwear that matches your bra, that your cuticles are trimmed and moisturized, that your hair is regularly trimmed, and that you floss your teeth everyday — and consequently have excellent gum health. Even small changes can boost your confidence levels. And we all know how attractive confidence is in men and women.

Maybe you think you are too busy to add self-care to your schedule. Well, we are all busy, but after considering the changes that can happen in your life, why not make time to do things like have your nails done (or do your own manicure), keep your ends trimmed, and perhaps re-work your budget to get an occasional massage? (The benefits of massage are well-documented, by the way. We also wrote about massage techniques before.)

After implementing some new habits into your life, you may start to notice that you are becoming a softer, more gentle person. As you treat your body and mind gently, you may in-turn treat the world more gently. This has a profound effect on the way that people react to you. For example, treating
men with genuine respect may result in men, if they are worth their salt, showing appropriate affection toward you!

Speaking of the way you treat your mind, intentional self-care cannot be limited to our physical bodies. We must also care for our minds and spirits. The Bible instructs us to guard our hearts with all vigilance, for from them flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). Our brains are constantly processing information from the media, TV, movies, friendships,  relationships, and basically everything we’re exposed to.

Consider also this passage:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

We must be the guardians of our hearts, and the way we do that is by carefully choosing what we allow into our minds. In addition to the  information we consume, we also must be conscious of what we say. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Perverse speech can break the spirit. (Yes, more Bible verses – they just pop into my mind!) Dwell on what is true, and speak what is true in love. This will profit our overall health. Humans are made of mind, body, and spirit – and good health means that all three of these components work together harmoniously.

To bring all of this information to a point: femininity is about having a spirit of openness. When we “tie up the loose ends” of our personal care routine, we become more confident and open to receive from others. As our insecurities start to diminish, we can love others well through vulnerability. So slow down and introduce some tender love and care into your life. As they say, to love others you must first love yourself.

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True Christians are Real Ladies

What Jesus taught me about becoming a Lady Again

Photo credit: DSC_9191 via photopin
Photo credit: DSC_9191 via photopin

In the last year or so, I have become a part of a church community that heavily promotes Bible reading and prayer. This is significant, because I have been to many churches that do not intentionally encourage it’s members to engage in these fundamental practices of Christianity.

Similarly noteworthy is the fact that the church consists of a predominant (and immediately observable) young adult population. I mean, you walk into this church and you think “am I on a college campus?!” These are all young professional men and women, reading Bibles and committing to “The Lord’s work”.

Since I started to attend this church I have seen more women become engaged, or begin committed romantic relationships on the path to marriage, than I have experienced in any other circle of friends I have had in my life (except on facebook, but in those cases the word “friends” is loosely defined and I have over 1000 of them). That being said, many of these relationships seem quite happy and fulfilled.

Additionally, I have attended several sermons and/or workshops where the focus is “commitment” or “love”, or some other important factor of effectual relationships. I realized quickly from observing the women (and men) at this church, that I (and most of us) are doing things wrong, and that’s why we’re so unhappy with our lives.

Many Christian values promoted in the church, are things I have thought about or was told, but never implemented into the way I do things. I think the difference is that these are “old school” values that many people have rejected as irrelevant or oppressive, but which promote the effective application of many of the creature comforts our society most cherishes including:

  • committed relationships
  • financial stability
  • peace of mind
  • security
  • health
Photo credit: Без названия via Photopin.com
Photo credit: Без названия via Photopin.com

It’s interesting that these are things that we all want out of life, and in fact they are things that history has demonstrated determines our very survival, but we continue to try to create new rules to achieve these things. Then, when our new rules fail us, we decide that it’s our human nature that’s got it wrong and we try to fix ourselves (which leads to more problems).

What I have learned is that there are core values that the Bible teaches that help us to achieve those things that give us (and for the sake of this blog, I’m talking about ladies), the creature comforts most of us claim to desire in life. These values are:

  • Commitment: The Bible encourages commitment, and I have heard many leaders at this church preach commitment many times. The idea behind commitment is that “life is hard”, period. When you commit to things (in work, romance, faith, etc.) and persevere through trials, you will find fulfillment and often times peace.
  • Humility: This church is big on the passage in Philippians 2 that praises how Jesus “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but humbled himself as a servant…” I have come to believe that there is absolutely no way a woman can have peace in a committed relationship without humility. (Men as well, but we’re talking about women here).
  • Service: It talked about Jesus being a servant. The Bible also uses words like “submit” and “obey” which a lot of people today feel are “dirty words”. But Jesus said that he came “not to be served, but to serve”.
  • Selflessness: The opposite of this is selfishness, which makes people do things to benefit themselves with no concern for the welfare of others. I do not see how one can live in community (peacefully) without this value.
  • Forgiveness: Recognizing that nobody is perfect, and that we all need to lovingly be encouraging to one another seems, to me, to be so important for those things that promote “good living”.

I could go on and on with values like patience and perseverance that are also taught in the Bible, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll leave it here.

Not saying that people outside of the church do not esteem these same values, but the difference between those in the church and those outside of the church is that those in the church (specifically those who fully embrace the idea of “Christ-likeness” in these ways) attach their very identities to these core values. Many non-Christians or uncommitted Christians may see the appropriateness of these values, but either:

  • don’t identify with them
  • don’t find these values realistic to embrace
  • are unsure about the benefits of these values
  • or have any of a number of limiting beliefs that make it hard to embrace and/or apply these values.

That is unfortunate, because I feel that embracing these values, along with prayer and Bible study has changed my life (and health) in ways that are so far reaching that it’s difficult to describe. However, I will do my best to discuss some of these in future articles.

Question of the Day: Do you think the world can do better without Christian values? Why or why not?

 

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