Changing The Definition Of Femininity

Do you celebrate your femininity by wearing make-up and high heels?

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When you Google 'Femininity' you get this definition:-

The quality of being female; womanliness.

'She celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels'

Excuse me? Can you say the last bit again?

'She celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels.'

Is that it?

Is that the only way in which a woman can 'celebrate' her femininity?

Team ELLE were shocked that this is the official example sentence in a Google definition – which is pulled from various sources, including Oxford Dictionaries.

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We feel that this contextual description limits us; it is patronizing, old-fashioned and in need of updating.

And that's exactly why we asked the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, Olympic medal-winning boxer Nicola Adams MBE, media mogul Tina Brown, Pullitzer Prize-winner Robin Givhan, along with our transgender columnist Rhyannon Styles and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to write about what femininity means to them for our December issue, on sale now.

Nicola Sturgeon pens essay for ELLE on femininity
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The question of what femininity is today is much more complicated than high heels and make-up.

We 'celebrate' femininity through the many and varied ways we choose to present ourselves as women, be it in high-heels or hi-top trainers.

And we're not the only ones taking issue with outdated definitions and contexts.

Earlier this week Los Angeles-based writer Ali Segel inspired Merriam-Webster to delete their outdated and quite frankly bizarre definition of femininity, which had used the example sentence: 'She managed to become a CEO without sacrificing her femininity'.

Ali Segel told Cosmopolitan.com: 'Women are so much more than that…How about, "Sprinter Allyson Felix celebrates her femininity by winning gold medals at the Olympics."'

She's right. When we asked Olympic sprinter Dina Asher Smith how she defines femininity just before she went to Rio this summer she gave us this answer…

The word 'femininity' means something different to all women.

But most importantly it exists beyond external appearances. It is something far deeper.

Tweet us your definition @ELLEUK using the hashtag #ELLEFeminism

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