What 'Femininity' Means in 2022

Malala, Amanda Gorman, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and more define the word on their own terms.

(Image credit: Courtesy/Marie Claire)

Femininity isn't a bad word—it's just a misunderstood one.

Some brands shy away from what could be conceived as ultra-feminine marketing (here's looking at you, green M&M who no longer wears high heels) while others lean too heavily into archaic and gender conforming stereotypes around femininity (pink! hot pink!). And society still tries to equate all things feminine to frivolity or a female's physicality. 

While it's impossible to ever fully, accurately pinpoint "femininity"—part of what makes it so wonderful is its ever-evolving, nuanced, and individualized definitions—we wanted to get a more wholistic view of how real women interpreted the concept, giving them the chance to redefine it in their own terms. 

Over the course of Women's History Month, Marie Claire posed the question, "What does femininity mean, to you, in 2022?" to a host of notable women we interacted with. From Malala Yousafzai, activist and author of Podium on Bulletin; to Sarah Michelle Gellar, actress and The Little Market Council Member; to Gwen Stefani, singer and founder of beauty company GXVE; and many more, here's what we heard. 

Amanda Gorman

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Femininity is authentically growing into power, voice, and strength.

Amanda Gorman

Amy from Jeopardy

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Femininity is a double-edged sword. The fact that I get to be feminine in my daily life—with dresses and makeup and heels and all the rest—is a constant source of joy to me. But it comes with the inevitable, nagging question: Am I feminine enough?

Amy Schneider

Diane Von Furstenburg

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Femininity means not being afraid of showing your strength.

Diane von Furstenberg

lilly singh

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Femininity is defined by who you are and what you want out of life, rather than what society expects.

Lilly Singh


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In countries around the world, I've met incredible women and girls; because of them, I see femininity as strength and courage. It's women protesting for their rights in Afghanistan and against war in Russia. It's every girl who fights through conflict, poverty, and social norms to go to school and achieve her dreams.

Malala Yousafzai

gwen stefani

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Femininity is the mother side of me. It's the caring, nurturing side. It’s the way that women look at things from all angles and are able to role-play every single bad thing that could happen before it happens. The worrying, the foresight into things...Being in love for the first time and truly having a cool partnership brings out a femininity in me that I never thought I had.

Gwen Stefani

Maryam Shorjei

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It's time to get rid of all the patriarchal connotations attached to femininity. I'm an activist and a feminist who kicks ass while wearing high heels.

Maryam Shojaei

Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Femininity is complex, deep, and impossible to put in a box, which is part of why it’s incredible and powerful! Femininity to me is my incredible mother who showed me the power of using my voice, and my daughter who never ceases to amaze me with her curiosity. As a mother, partner, daughter, actress, and activist, I embrace my femininity by supporting all people, transgender people, cisgender people, and anyone no matter how they choose to identify.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

(Image credit: Getty Images / Marie Claire)

Today, femininity means defining our own personal standards and rules. It means owning our own bodies and being celebrated for who we are as people.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Entertainment Director

Neha Prakash is Marie Claire's Entertainment Director, where she edits, writes, and ideates culture and current event features with a focus on elevating diverse voices and stories in film and television. She steers and books the brand's print and digital covers as well as oversees the talent and production on MC's video franchises like "How Well Do You Know Your Co-Star?" and flagship events, including the Power Play summit. Since joining the team in early 2020, she's produced entertainment packages about buzzy television shows and films, helped oversee culture SEO content, commissioned op-eds from notable writers, and penned widely-shared celebrity profiles and interviews. She also assists with social coverage around major red carpet events, having conducted celebrity interviews at the Met Gala, Oscars, and Golden Globes. Prior to Marie Claire, she held editor roles at Brides, Glamour, Mashable, and Condé Nast, where she launched the Social News Desk. Her pop culture, breaking news, and fashion coverage has appeared on Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, Teen Vogue, and Architectural Digest. She earned a masters degree from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2012 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 2010. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and dog, Ghost; she loves matcha lattes, Bollywood movies, and has many hot takes about TV reboots. Follow her on Instagram @nehapk.