Femininity and Mental Health

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There are lots of interesting correlations and connections between femininity and mental health. For instance, there may be a lot of double standards and expectations tied to the idea of femininity, in terms of body image, appearance, relationships and friendships. These concepts often stem from certain aspects of social media, although these things have perhaps started to improve.

Also, the idea of femininity in terms of hyper-femininity and how that has often been depicted in the media relates to this idea of the relationship between femininity and mental health as well. For instance, the idea of hyper-femininity, which often consists of loving pink and shopping and being interested in hair and make-up and shoes, has frequently been portrayed as negative or even as worthy or scorn or derision in many teen movies and romantic comedies. In fact, the ‘mean girl’ or antagonist to the female lead in many of these movies may be considered to be almost ‘lesser’ or somehow vapid and shallow for liking these things, whereas the ‘not like other girls’ protagonist who is less interested in pink and make-up is praised for being ‘different’, while still being expected to get a make-over and change most of their physical appearance to look more ‘desirable’ or conventionally ‘attractive’ to feel good about themselves and get together with the love interest, despite the fact that they didn’t need to change how they looked at all as like the ‘hyper-feminine’ antagonist, they’re enough and have worth no matter how they look.

Interestingly, the 2001 film Legally Blonde served to challenge some of the stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas about so-called ‘girly’ women being vapid or unintelligent. For instance, the film makes a point of demonstrating that the protagonist, Elle, did not have to change how she presented herself or forget about her traditionally feminine interests to become an amazing lawyer and while the film is far from perfect, it does a good job of commenting on how unfair it is that Elle is judged and underestimated for liking pink when she’s extremely hard-working and driven.

While things have come a long way in terms of more people realising that liking things often considered ‘feminine’ or ‘girly’ does not make you a lesser person or any less competent or intelligent, some issues and complications still arise. For instance, there is now more pressure on women and girls than there is on men and boys to always achieve, always be a tough, strong badass and a boss and to always win and fight. While it is great that more and more women are being celebrated as strong and capable without having to abandon more traditionally feminine interests, as they add to their strength, there is still an immense pressure on women and girls to always be the best at everything, which can result in many girls and women feeling inadequate or weak even when this is far from the truth when they only see female characters who never struggle and never find anything difficult.