By Ashleigh Magee, Health and Wellness Coach

As women in the military community, it often feels like our every move is under a microscope. Being in a male-dominated world can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel like we have to hide our true selves. Whether you’re a service member or a spouse, choosing how much to embrace your femininity is like walking a tightrope…it’s either too much or not enough. Our femininity is labeled everything from good, bad, a tool, an advantage, a disadvantage, but never talked about as a reasonable expression of who we are.

However, when you allow yourself to show up authentically, it is both self-care and the most wonderful gift you can give yourself. It allows us to be better in everything else we do because we’re not wasting energy and effort to wear a mask for others. This applies to all genders and expression of self…you should be free to be you!

Why is Femininity Important?

Our military and our community is stronger because of our differences. It creates harmony both at home and on deployment. Regardless of your role in this community, we are all leaders, and one of the most important leadership traits is empathy. This may look like helping your sailors grow and develop into leaders themselves, or caring for and guiding your children when your spouse is deployed. 

We also teach others how to treat and accept us. Wearing makeup or putting a little more effort into our appearance doesn’t mean we’re weak or trying to get attention. It’s about feeling confident in how we’re presenting ourselves. However, when we shame ourselves or hide that part, we’re showing others…the soldiers we lead, our kids, and our peers…that there is something wrong with embracing that part of our personality. Being in this community does not mean that you have to be masculine to “count,” and it’s our responsibility to upend that expectation.

How to Love and Embrace Yourself

If you’ve been hiding your true self, it can feel uncomfortable letting your personality shine through. Here are 3 ways to embrace and show up as your true self:

  1. Daily Affirmations – Write down 3 things that you love about yourself or that you want to become. They should represent the best of who you want to be. Put them on a post-it note, hang them next to your bathroom mirror, and say them to yourself every day. Your brain believes what you tell it.
  2. Reconnect to your Hobbies – Is there something you used to love doing, but stopped because life happened? Reconnect to that hobby, and try to make time for it every week. This will create more joy and fulfillment in your life.
  3. Do a Friend Audit – How do you feel around your friends? Do you feel uplifted, positive, and supported or judged and negative? Choose to spend more time around the former, and you will feel more and more comfortable as your true self!

Remember, when you don’t embrace who you truly are, it keeps you from your true potential.

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