Constructing Femininity in Adolescence
Learn about the key points in constructing femininity in adolescence. By knowing them, you'll be able to accompany your daughter in the best way possible throughout this complex stage.
Our sex is determined biologically as we develop in the womb. It’s a genetic expression, the externalization of our chromosomes. However, gender, sexual identity and sexuality are more related to constructing femininity in adolescence.
In this light, we, as parents, have a great responsibility. We must guide our children to fully develop their sexuality, which contributes to their mental and emotional health.
As girls enter puberty, their body starts changing and they start experiencing hormonal changes, which leads to an overall transformation of their emotional universe.
Constructing femininity in adolescence
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect this process, which every young woman goes through in life:
1. The mother’s example
The mother’s example is a crucial element. Some mothers haven’t given themselves time to explore their femininity, which is sad because it leaves the girl without a role model in this regard.
Constructing femininity is directly related to the mother’s example, as well as to the relationship and dynamic between mother and daughter and how they experience it in their nuclear family.
Society, of course, also plays a fundamental role in deciding what traits and behaviors are assumed to be “natural” or “normal” for women and girls. In this sense, masculinity acts as the contrast.
2. Constructing femininity
Constructing femininity begins at a very early age. Since they’re young, girls play with their mother’s makeup and want to try on her heels and dresses. They’re trying to imitate their mothers, and thus taking their first steps to building their own femininity.
However, the process becomes much more consolidated in adolescence. Young teenagers begin putting on makeup regularly and start having crushes at school, for example.
During this stage, young women might also start to go on dates, go out to the movies with friends, talk about boys and do many other things that can play a role in constructing femininity in adolescence.
However, this also depends on the rules each family has and on the level of freedom given to each child.
Parents must be careful when imposing discipline or applying rules during this stage. We shouldn’t lower our standards when it comes to family values and principles, nor should we be dogmatic.
Why do some girls rebel in their teens?
Rebellious acts can occur because of a girl’s need to empower herself and self-affirm her new condition as a woman.
It’s common to see girls reject their mother’s advice and look down on their friendship. To avoid this, we must be intelligent in reading certain types of independence and self-affirmation.
“…we, as parents, have a great responsibility; we must guide our children to fully develop their sexuality, which contributes to their mental and emotional health.”
Paradigms about femininity
As our daughters become women, we, as parents, must take care of their mental and physical integrity.
We shouldn’t encourage misjudgments regarding femininity – for example, the idea that women’s ultimate goal is to be a mother or that it is her responsibility in life to take care of daily household chores.
It’s necessary to educate our children about equality. They should know that a girl is neither more nor less than any boy. Moreover, responsibilities at home and in the nuclear family must be shared equally.
Parents must help their children to recognize, understand and value themselves as individuals. The innate characteristics related to their gender and culture will make them feel privileged and allow them to carry themselves with pride.
Balance is key
Instilling a staunch and extremist idea of feminism in teenagers wouldn’t make sense nor would it favor their total inclusion in today’s society.
How to achieve balance? Love is fundamental. An adolescent who observes how her mother respects and loves herself and seeks self-fulfillment regardless of her gender will understand, without hesitation, what her place is and how to embrace her femininity.
Therefore, educating by acting as a positive role model and by treating boys and girls equally will be crucial when it comes to constructing femininity in adolescence.