What 'Femininity' Means in 2022

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

headshots
(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


(Image credit: Daniel Williams / Marie Claire)

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

Amanda Gorman

Amy from Jeopardy


(Image credit: Jeopardy Productions / Marie Claire)

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

(Image credit: Getty)

Femininity means not being afraid of showing your strength.

Diane von Furstenberg

lilly singh

(Image credit: Shayan Asgharnia / Marie Claire)

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

Lilly Singh

Malala

(Image credit: Courtesy / Marie Claire)

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

(Image credit: Getty Images / Marie Claire)

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

(Image credit: Courtesy of subject)

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

(Image credit: Getty Images / Marie Claire )

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

As Marie Claire’s Entertainment Director, Neha oversees pop culture, celebrity, and current events features with a focus on elevating diverse voices and stories in film and television. She also oversees the brand's print and digital covers as well as book and produces MC's video franchises. She loves a hot-take, hates TV reboots, and is always happy to discuss reality television. Before joining Marie Claire, she held positions at Glamour, Brides, Condé Nast, and Mashable, and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.