This month, Everyday Ediths has explored the theme of womanhood, and what it means to each individual author. I have appreciated the insight provided by all of our bloggers. To explore more, I encourage you to check out:
I was scheduled to write a post last Thursday, the 24th of May, but I have to confess – this theme has thrown me through a loop. Initially, I wanted to write a piece about the ultimate woman we see in the fiat, faith, and loving example of Mary, the Blessed Mother. However, I didn’t want to explore Mary, since I feel as though I’ve written about her pretty extensively as of late, both at CatholicSistas.com and my personal blog at beautifulcamouflage.com.
Here at Everyday Ediths, we blog about a monthly theme as it pertains to faith, family, and/or seasons. Those seasons could be seasons of life, or it could be literal seasons. In the Catholic Church, May is celebrated as Mary’s month, and in the United States, it is also the month we hail mothers – spiritual and physical. However, I didn’t feel drawn to the seasons, either.
Yet, as a mother to a young girl, I felt drawn to the concept of exploring womanhood for the sake of my daughter. She is only two, so she is a long way off from caring about womanhood – and, how her womanhood will impact her life. And, frankly, the future remains to be seen as to how society’s concept of womanhood will impact her life.
Leslie briefly explored the concept of womanhood, and society’s ever-evolving change in her piece this past Tuesday. She closes with the reminder, “Just as you are, you reflect the Creator’s ‘wisdom and goodness.’ And He sees that You are good.”
However, too often, society has a tendency to dictate how we look at ourselves. We are inundated with messages of our sense of worth and self through advertisements, videos, music, and unfortunately, fall prey to the stress of peer pressure.
In the past year, I have seen articles, such as this one, floating around on Facebook, advocating the cessation of the use of the word “princess” to describe little girls. Most recently, I saw an article which displayed an artist’s reimagined rendition of Disney princesses, as career women, rather than the original Disney princesses. As creative as I found the artist’s new portrayal of these princesses, and the more I considered the messages I have received from social media, as a mother to a young girl, the angrier I became.
Allow me to let you, dear reader, in on a secret…
When I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a princess. Watching Disney movies, I admired the princesses dedication to their families, and the fierce loyalty they displayed to their friends. I loved that they loved.
Imagine my delighted surprise, then, when I found a real-life princess, who also became a saint! St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s legend of loaves turning to roses, and the secrecy in which she found herself feeding the poor and homeless provided me with hours of play time – it was fun to pretend to be St. Elizabeth of Hungary, or another imagined princess who defied the strict formality of her family to listen to God and His desires for her life.
As I have watched the war on Disney princesses and the term of “princess,” I have found myself saddened that the innocence I brought to my hours of play time is, today, something that is roundly and routinely discouraged by society at large. Instead of being a princess, I am being told in order to be a “good” mother, I should be referring to my daughter as brave or courageous, strong or generous, or many other adjectives.
Yet, every ounce of my fiber is screaming the hours of play, in which I truly got into character and became a princess, were filled with brave and heroic conquests. I was brave, strong, courageous… and, perhaps more importantly, I was generous. Because, to me, those are characteristics which embodied a princess. Princesses also had the wealth to allow them to assist more individuals because they had unlimited resources to effect change. While at the time I couldn’t Google “Catholic saints who were princesses,” I did have an amazing saint book which shared stories of all different female saints, many of whom were princesses.
Princesses, and rebels in their time.
My daughter loves princesses at her tender age. She is routinely told she is smart, brave, headstrong, strong-willed, and a host of other adjectives. But, she identifies as a princess – enough that she will, until acknowledged as such, yell at the adult, “Mommy/Daddy, I a princess!” She introduces herself to others as a princess. And, the more I apply my adult-lenses to her little life, the more I recognize she is beginning to embrace womanhood.
Regardless of what society says, as St. Pope John Paul II wrote in his Mulieris Dignitatum in 1988,
“The present reflections, now at an end, have sought to recognize, within the ‘gift of God’, what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a ‘sincere gift of self’ to others, thereby finding themselves.”
Women have value and worth. They have a unique role to play in creation. And, womanhood should be celebrated – not matter whether or not a woman wants to be one who works outside the home, or one who wants to “only” stay at home. They should be celebrated regardless of whether or not we have given birth to children. As St. Pope John Paul II stated in his Letter to Women in 1995,
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman!
Society looks to pit women against each other – chastising the ambitions of those who want to stay at home being a wife and mother (another dream of mine from childhood), and elevating those who choose to work. Society also accuses the Church as waging a war on women.
However, nothing can be further from the truth.
From the female saints who have been declared Doctors of the Church (St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Teresa of Avila), to the lifestyles and celebrated feast days of various female saints, to the reverence with which we treat Mary, the Mother of God, and finally, to the teaching that the Church herself embodies the attributes of womanhood, the Catholic Church recognized – and recognizes – the inherent dignity, worth, and value of women.
As the mother to a young girl, I want her and her “princess” peers to embrace their worth as girls – who will eventually grow into women. I pray they will recognize their own strength, their courage, their generosity, and their love – and channel all of those gifts to make their society better. I pray they embrace each other, honoring the choices and decisions each woman makes for her life – upholding the dignity and value of each individual female contribution to their society.
Lastly, I pray they see themselves as beautiful daughters of God – not just the physical beauty society tends to promote and encourage, but rather, the kind of beauty which radiates from the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally by not only each other and their families, but also by the One from whom all things emanate – their Creator, and loving Father.
And, I pray that all women reading this piece also embrace their dignity, worth, and value to our current society.
Because Leslie’s assertion earlier this week is correct – He sees that women are good!
How do you, dear reader, embrace your womanhood, and the womanhood of others in your life?