When asking people to define womanhood, some people speak of the beautiful physique that makes a woman, while others speak about strength and independence. According to the dictionary, womanhood is quite literally the state of being a woman. Which begs the question… What truly defines a woman?
Looking at the portrayal and definition of women in the media throughout the ages, I’ve come to realise one thing: more often than not, women have become defined, acknowledged and praised for one thing primarily: their physical attributes.
Beautiful women surround us. They’re on our tv screens, in our magazines, on our social media and in our health resources. We’ve grown up (I know I certainly have) aspiring to look a certain way so that we can feel a certain way (attractive) and obtain our ultimate goal – whatever that looks like to you. This is the formula needed to be successful. Even to be successful in your career, the way you look is of the utmost importance.
The physical features, the ability to have children and the stark differences between men and women in terms of all outward appearances may seem to be the defining factor to womanhood. But it’s not what I believe true womanhood to truly be about.
Discovering True Womanhood
I was chatting to a friend a while back about this exact dilemma. How women’s physical identities and beauty are being attacked and are constantly being highlighted and under scrutiny. He made this incredible point that I haven’t forgotten. It struck me to the core and made me incredibly proud to be a woman. He said:
His statement made me realise that if women represent the beauty of God, it could be seen as a massive threat. And by making outward beauty the main focus, the power of inward beauty would be diminished.
“Womanly beauty isn’t just physical. It’s the pinnacle of what God thought was beautiful.”
Recently a colleague and I went and interviewed some people on what they think a woman is and what defines her. Physical beauty wasn’t their first response. Most of them mentioned two strong, defining characteristics that made a woman to them: boldness and strength.
Beauty and boldness and strength may seem overtly opposite. Yet, they go together hand in hand.
The Ultimate Combination
1 Peter 3:3-6 speaks of how women need to worry less about their outward beauty and more about their inward beauty. This article poignantly discusses this scripture and describes in detail how a woman being meek isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather allows her to live without fear. And a woman living without fear is one of the most powerful women you’re ever likely to meet.
“The reason meekness and quietness and serenity and these hope-filled attributes of inner beauty count so with God is because they make a woman fearless. See, I don’t want to close in leaving the impression that these words meekness and quietness and tranquillity somehow produce a pansy. These women are lion hearted […]” – John Piper
Celebrating Boldness and Strength
Women are so intricately and perfectly designed that each of us, while bearing the feminine characteristics of God, display them differently. One woman may be an extroverted go-getter that thrives in the business world while another may be an introverted hospitable stay-at-home mom that’s life mission is to raise strong children. Both are incredible feats and both are to be celebrated.
We were all so perfectly crafted that when we work together in unison, we create an unstoppable force that can conquer mountains. When we embrace who we were created to be, and we feed off of the joy that gives us strength, we became warrior women – women who can conquer any challenge that comes their way, women who can withstand trials and long-suffering situations, women who raise up children who change the world, women who love brokenness into healing, and women who are so strikingly beautiful you can’t stop looking.
“A woman is the angel who guides the household. Holds her head up and nurtures the family. She is powerful, fearless and sensitive. She brings the spark in life through bringing up a new generation. She is the beauty of life, blossoming through her care-taking duties.”
If you read Proverbs 31, from verse 10, you’ll see that the above definition from a friend of mine and the scripture goes hand in hand. Women are: providers, carers, kind, fruitful, strong, wise, helpers of the poor, and fearers of the Lord. We’re not quiet and weak, we buy land, toil it and make a sustainable life for ourselves and our families. These characteristics, the kindness and caring spirit, is what defines a woman. This is where her beauty stems from.
Throughout my own journey I’ve started to realise one thing. The more I embrace the womanly characteristics of who I was meant to be, the more I thrive and start walking out my purpose.
In the light of Women’s Day, let’s celebrate these wonderful characteristics that make us women. Let’s empower one another, share life’s joys and disappointments with one another, and let’s raise up generations that take the world by storm.
You, beautiful woman, are destined for great things.