How to Be a Woman

I’m getting in touch with my feminine side today. Excuse me while I adjust my bra and gloss my lips. I don’t often visit my girlish self. I suppose I suppress her since I develop software for a living, compete in endurance sports for kicks, and play with personal finance for pleasure. None of these activities traditionally align with the womanly qualities of being compassionate, nurturing, or gentle. There’s nothing compassionate about passing a flatted cyclist during a 112 mile bike race. I neither feel gentle when buying stocks nor nurturing when programming binary software.

Perhaps I’m just a tomboy thinking out loud in a skirt, but what does it mean to be a woman today? How can women be fierce in finance yet generous in giving? Must she be either a femme fatale or all sugar and spice?


Here are ten ways to keep it real living as a woman today:

1. Put yourself first.

All too often women put themselves last. They sacrifice their health, wealth, and self in favor of their family and friends. They intuitively put their needs, desires, and dreams last by caring for and nurturing others first. This is no secret. The airline industry has known about this tendency for years. Before every flight we get a little safety speech telling us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before placing it on our children. Why is this? It’s simple really, if you can’t breathe you can’t help others breathe around you. This is just like life. If you fail to acknowledge your life first, what are you living for?

2. Live in your skin today.

How many times have you looked to tomorrow to achieve your goals today? “If only I were thinner, younger, more perky…then I would reach for the stars”. Perhaps you look to the past and dream of what today could have been? “If only I invested in Microsoft way back then”. None of these approaches are helpful for today, now, this second. By living in your skin today, you authentically capture the moment, the here, the now. It’s amazing what can be achieved by focusing on the now and letting the later take care of itself.

3. Keep your tits real.

Stop knocking your knockers. Stuffing yourself with silicon may bring satisfaction in the short-term, but the long-term ramifications may leave you feeling a boob. It’s no mystery most women have terrible body images. We’re fed idealized images of pubescent malnourished models and made to believe our lives would be better by being cellulite free. Do yourself a favor by ignoring these airbrushed and Photoshopped media myths. Today’s woman would be wise to look back through history to observe how changing one’s physical form based upon the whims of fashion can scar. Women in China used to bind their feet for a fashionably small footprint, leaving themselves crippled in the process. Western women pushed and poured themselves into corsets to obtain minuscule midriffs, only to damage their backs and internal organs.

Despite warnings from the past, the search for fashionable perfection persists. Today, women use invasive procedures to suck out fat and plump their pouts. There are costs to physical modification, and these costs extend well beyond the financial. In seeking the ideal of the day by fixating on outward appearances, we fail to fix and address the inward self. No amount of outward augmentation can address internal issues of sagging self-esteem, lack of self-love, or corroded self-confidence. Keep your tits real and tilt your focus inward. Your chest may just swell from what you discover on the inside.

4. Be a bra.

It seems elusive, the bra that supports all your bits, lifts, and fits. But when the best brassiere is begotten, the upward mental and physical lift is immeasurable. Like a favorite foundation garment, sometimes what we need most in life is a little bit of support and understanding. Be a supportive structure to your sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and daughters. Lending a shoulder to cry on or offering an ear to listen is all we really need to lift our sprits and brace our courage.

5. Show some muscle.

Forget “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Today’s woman must be made of some muscle, motivation, and might to live well. Voicing your thoughts, beliefs, and notions raises awareness of your self. Speaking with confidence and acting with strength can only bring belief in your abilities and clarify the path with which to follow. Cast your vote and be heard. Flex some female muscle.

6. Seek progress, not perfection.

The state of being without flaw or defect is pretty much impossible. Nobody is perfect. The ideal is evasive. Removing one’s focus from attaining perfection and seeing life more as a state of progress can better set a woman on the path towards success and fulfillment. Seeking gradual improvement, advancement in knowledge, and moving forward toward a goal is far more attainable. Seek progress in life and the feeling of personal satisfaction is very possible.

7. Be yourself, not your title.

Too often women identify themselves solely as mother, wife, or in terms of an occupational job title. This is a mistake. By tightly coupling oneself to a socially constructed title it’s easy to forget who you really are. What happens to one’s worth when a marriage ends and the title of “wife” must be legally surrendered? Who suffers when a career ends and a women ceases to be manager, director, or an employee? What happens to one’s internal self when these titles are relinquished? By not identifying with and tying ourselves to a title it becomes easier to see our true selves. Without these titles, who are you really today?

8. Embrace your finances.

Many women today forget to take their finances into account. This is a huge oversight. Women must become financially savvy in today’s economy since we generally live longer than men, earn less income, raise children, and manage households. Becoming better aware of how to negotiate a salary, how to invest in retirement, and how to spend wisely only helps us raise financially savvy children, earn more competitive incomes, and better prepare for financial catastrophe.

Leaving all financial matters to the men in our lives is a huge mistake. Marriages end and husbands can die. I’m sorry to not embrace tales of Cinderella and magic pixie dust but couples do get divorced. If your prince holds the financial purse strings you may just be back with the evil stepsisters wearing a gunny sack. Too many women leave the finances to their husbands and fail to jointly participate. Women should indeed hope for the best, but plan for the worst by learning about money and how to manage it for them self.

9. Enhance your education.

Today, woman would be wise to continue along the path of enhancing their education. Education is a loose term. It doesn’t necessarily mean seeking higher degrees and poignant pieces of paper. Education can mean gradually acquiring knowledge of a particular subject or activity. The point is to never stay stagnant and never stop learning. Knowledge is key to understanding where you stand, how you got there, and where you are headed. Practice enhancing your knowledge and who knows what follows.

10. Stop being Super Woman, ask for help.

My mom tried to do it all in the 80s. She lived with the belief she could balance her career, raise children, clean house, cook meals, launder clothing, keep fit, and stay mentally well. Impossible. It’s just too much to balance. Watching what she went through and the anguish she felt, I wonder if all could have been better if she just stopped trying to be Super Woman, and asked for help. It’s seems so simple, asking for help. Yet I think women can feel uncomfortable admitting it’s all just too much. Asking for help doesn’t mean failure or defeat. Asking for help gives others the opportunity to further an effort or purpose. Asking for help lets others contribute and perhaps find a level of fulfillment not otherwise possible. Let go of the notion of being Super Woman, and ask for help.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Are there other ways to be a woman today? What do you fellows think? Am I just stuffed full of estrogen?

Your two cents:

  1. Mrs. Micah May 11th, 2008

    I love it, squawkfox! I really think it fits my experience. On the one hand, celebrating my inner drive to support others without letting myself down. And appreciating my beauty without getting caught up in other peoples’ ideals.

    And accepting that I can’t balance those (or anything) perfectly. I can try, but I don’t have to be perfect.

    Plus I’ve never heard some of those before…like being the bra. Or the tits. ;)

  2. guinness416 May 11th, 2008

    This is fab, squawkfox, much better than Pavlina’s oh-so-earnest article. 5 and 8 I gots covered, still working on 3. Funny how that (still) works. Bookmarked!

  3. Fabulous post! I’m so digg-ing this.

  4. Emily May 11th, 2008

    Love it! Great post!

    Thumbed it!

  5. sarah May 11th, 2008

    you say you want women to be themselves, but what is this article doing? telling women what they should be like? hmmm.

  6. Fantastic article! Did you write it, to submit to Steve Pavlina’s blog?

    I enjoy it tremendously! Thumps up!



  7. Heidi May 12th, 2008

    Awesome! Posts like this renew my belief that you can truly find good, unique content on the internet. Also loved the photo.

    Also, this post kicks off my weekly roundup honoring women & moms.


  8. telly May 12th, 2008

    Awesome post! As an engineer and PF geek myself I’ve always been the tomboy in my family so I don’t visit my girlish self very often either. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  9. Kerry May 12th, 2008

    Wow! Thank you @Mrs.Micah, @guinness416, @Tales, @Emily, @Evelyn, @Heidi, and @telly for your social media votes and kind words towards my “unique” choice in content. I am beyond thrilled you enjoyed this article. I did indeed find inspiration from Steve Pavlina’s article “How to Be a Man”, and just couldn’t resist the opportunity to post a companion piece.

    @sarah I appreciate your thoughts. Albeit, my intention is not to tell women what they should be like, but rather the opposite. As a tomboy lacking in many traditional feminine qualities, my intention is to consider a newer context for what it means to be a woman today. I wish to offer various paths to reconsider how we define ourselves, how we’re defined through the media, and how we can evolve past definitions.

  10. L'il Stevie May 12th, 2008

    I want to be a woman…

  11. Paige May 12th, 2008

    Excellent article! Humorous and true. It is always good to take a step back and reconnect with what makes you powerful as a woman!

    Thumbs up.

  12. nancy (aka money coach) May 12th, 2008

    yesss! High virtual fives for this post, @squawkfox.

    My mom learned to invest in her later years, and got me going in my late 20s. I co-created a womens investment club, and I’ll tell you, there’s nothing more sexy-confidence generating than, as a woman, being able to go toe to toe with any group of men-in-suits about investing (no offense to men.)

    And for me, in my middle years, I’m learning to be a woman who’s increasingly informed and politically active. I’m no longer content to shelter myself from some of the unpleasant realities in the world, and determined to claim my voice and my right to speak to these realities.

  13. Ksyu May 13th, 2008

    You go girl! I really like your snappy wise yet fun article. It’s really tough being a woman in today’s world. I could really relate to your points.
    I also wrote a response to Steve Pavlina’s How To Be A Man but it’s radically different from your post.

    Love the pic!

  14. Single Ma May 13th, 2008

    I love this article!! Funny, honest, and true. I’m going to share it with my readers. Thanks!

  15. Four Pillars May 13th, 2008

    Great pic! I supposed I should read the article too? :)


  16. Erica May 13th, 2008

    I suppose I tend to suppress my feminine side as well. I am a software developer too, and I don’t think I have worn makeup in 6 years (except for my wedding and the rare nights out lately with hubby when we get a babysitter).

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I know I still have some work to do on me, but I am getting there (especially with the education part – I am taking it upon myself to learn new languages since our company seems to be slowly moving backwards)



  17. Sistah Ant May 15th, 2008

    Cool post, great picture!

  18. Suzie May 16th, 2008

    Absolutely FANTASTIC post! Loved it – and identified with all the points :D And I liked the picture too.

  19. Chief Family Officer May 16th, 2008

    I came over from Single Ma and I love this! I think I’m doing pretty well with all of these, but #6 is my weak point and I am adopting “Progress, not perfection” as my new mantra (it has a better ring to it than “I don’t have to be perfect, just good enough”). Thanks!

  20. Rachel @ Master Your Card May 16th, 2008

    What a very inspiring post for all of us girlies. I think that it is too easy to get tied up with being a mother and wife, running the household (and in my case running a business) to take much time to think about yourself, your needs and even taking a rest. I find it very satisfying managing so many roles but it is good to take a break and what better excuse than on Mothers Day.

  21. Hayden Tompkins May 16th, 2008

    “Keep your tits real.”

    Oh god I LOVE THIS ARTICLE. Hysterical.

  22. Suzann May 16th, 2008

    Love your writing, and your great sense of humor. Well done! I plan to keep coming back!

  23. tanyetta May 18th, 2008

    Great post! Thank you for the much needed boost.

  24. Noa Rose May 18th, 2008

    That photo will make its way round the world on the internet! The article was a winner too!

  25. Erica May 18th, 2008

    I think one of the only things I do not usually compromise on is my bra. Thanks to 2 very large babies I have gone from B36 to C38 and I refuse to wear anything except for one of my 2 favorite bras that help accentuate that. I might wear jeans and older tshirts to work in a room full of programmer *guys* but I’m sure none of them will mistake me for just one of the guys. ;)


  26. Bret May 18th, 2008

    I wanted to voice my support for keepin’ it real.

    I know there is social pressure for girls to get fake boobs, fake lips, streaked hair and @ss tatoos. But, looking like a stripper rarely improves anyone’s self-esteem.

    Of course guys will turn their heads to look at those huge fake knockers. It’s a pretty natural instinct for us. But, it’s kind of like eating junk food. It’s so obviously fake and devoid of any lasting satisfaction. Guys are smarter than they appear in TV commercials and they do appreciate quality.

    Beauty comes from the inside out and most girls are pretty to begin with. Please don’t cut yourself up to look like a Bratz doll. Your health is way too valuable. Be thankful for your good looks and be confident to look like a woman.

  27. BK May 19th, 2008

    Found you thru Single Ma.. and I love this post!!!

    this post was RIGHT ON!!!

  28. Mrs. Accountability May 19th, 2008

    Heeee, number 3 was great. Excellent Mother’s Day post! I found you through the 153rd Carnival of Personal Finance. Nice to meet you!

  29. Grey May 20th, 2008

    Fabulous! Now I shall have to walk through my day chanting “be the bra! be the bra!”

    I found you through the Carnival of Personal Finance – great blog!

  30. Shanti @ Antishay May 20th, 2008

    What a fantastic post! I love your writing and can’t believe I’ve never heard of you before! We have a lot in common… programming, athleticism, a strong sense of self… ANYWAY.

    Thanks for this piece! You’ve given me more motivation to get out there and just… be me :D

  31. SophiaAM May 21st, 2008

    Utterly Banal.

  32. Kerry May 21st, 2008

    Wow. I am overwhelmed with the response to this article. I am touched by your stories, your emails, and your thoughts on how points resonate with you. I am very happy to see the fellows speak up as well. When I wrote “How to Be a Woman” I spoke from an honest place. So I appreciate the honesty in your thoughts and comments.

  33. suchlovelyfreckles May 25th, 2008

    I don’t know how this can be called “utterly banal” by some. I love this post, and it came just at the right time for me. Thank you! I stumbled here, and will bookmark your blog. :)

  34. CYNDYRELLY September 22nd, 2008

    i like the post but reality is also that there are couples who don’t divorce just didn’t think it was fair that you put every couple in that category…thanks you’re doing a good job!

  35. j d March 6th, 2009

    Well written, thought provoking, but I think you missed the most obvious. High heeled shoes. They are deforming, crippling, expensive objects that prevent a woman from running or even walking normally. Most of the time they are worn with pants. Heels make the leg shapely, pants hide the leg. Counter productive.
    What if you have to run through an alley or down stairs in those shoes? What if you were running for a bus or being chased?
    When completely packed for a trip, put on those shoes, pick up your bags and walk down to the corner by your home. Think about walking across the unfamiliar town with all of it. Then remove half of the stuff you carry and SWITCH TO YOUR BLACK FLATS.

  36. crickett April 12th, 2010

    I on the other hand, loooove high heels (perk up your butt and lengthen calves) and makeup and dressing up and fashion, it is fun! It is a blessing to be a woman and be girlie and feminine.

  37. crickett April 12th, 2010

    addendum to my last post, for those really pointy toes, buy them 2 sizes larger to accomodate natural things like toes, works best with short/tall high heel boots, also get the insert jellies that stick to the inside of the shoe to protect the ball of the foot. This way, you get your high heel fix and you can run after a bus too….

  38. trudie July 28th, 2013

    All my life a tried and was super woman, now at 81 I still hate asking for help, but soon I will have to more and more. I liked you article, you are right, however it is not easy, even at my age.

  39. Sammy June 15th, 2015

    Great article, but there’s just one thing that bothers me: you shouldn’t degrade any woman for having fake breasts. Deciding to do things that make you happy does not make you any less of a woman. Any woman has the right to change her body and it’s no one’s place to dictate whether or not she fulfills the standards of being a woman just for doing so.

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