International Woman’s Day occurs every year to be celebrated by women everywhere and by the men who cherish them.
Why should we women celebrate being female?
You’re kidding. Right?
Being female is such a strength. A trip to France can explain that.
I was enjoying the lovely Parisian day by sitting outside a darling café, having le verre à vin et l’assietteleu fromage (a glass of wine and a plate of cheeses). Watching the street activity in Paris is as delicious as the food. It was my fellow females that spoke to me the most.
The women of Paris walked talk, straight and gracefully, talking often and looking happy. There were no identical, cookie cutter looks here in Paris for the women. But there were identical efforts. Clothes were always cleaned, pressed and tailored. Even jeans that are beginning to be worn are not relaxed or cut for boots in Paris. There are no tears or zippers. The denim is of the darker blue, neat, clean and fitted to the body. Shoes were chosen with care. No wore-down leather or torn fabrics. No sneakers or chunky brown “comfort” shoes. These shoes were stylish, often with higher heels of varying heights; fabric or leather; a multitude of colors and designs. Whether a skirt, dress or slacks, each was well-fitted and reeked of quality. Jackets, coats and sweaters were tailored. Not a thread was loose or a button off. Jewelry was minimal but scarves were everywhere. Women wore them as elegant works of art. I felt an aura of unmistakable glee in their being feminine. It pierced the inner most space of my soul and hugged it with great camaraderie.
The men possessed the same sense of self-expression, though often I could not control my shock of surprise at seeing bright colors and scarves on men, too. The absence of low-slung pants, thonged flip flops, sweatpants, tie-dye, tee shirts with stupid slogans on them, and baseball caps, made my heart skip a beat. In their places were well-pressed pants, crisp shirts, groomed hair, and graceful gestures. Gentle envy stirred in me for the French women who have this beautiful array of masculinity to observe and enjoy.
Flowing amidst all this glorious gender pride, I should not have been surprised then when the embodiment of it sat down right next to me at the nearby table in the café.
The lovely woman, dressed professionally in a sleeveless blouse and a flowing skirt, strolled into the café and chose a table near me, her long hair, pulled up and secured. She sat her bag down before taking her seat. Her feet were barely covered in strappy, open-toed sandals with a small heel. Her countenance was peaceful and she patiently studied her menu while waiting for the monsieur (server) to take her order. Her posture produced an elegant, relaxed grace to her movements.
Lest you begin to think I was staring at this woman with an unhealthy obsession, let me assure you that this assessment of her took less than a full minute. It is very true what they say – lasting impressions occur within the first 30 seconds of seeing someone.
She held a fascination for me, because in my country it is very unusual to see a woman so self-assured and just plain happy to be by herself. In between sipping my wine and eating from the cheese and baguette plate, I continued to observe her out of the corner of my eye.
She ordered a bière (a beer) with her lunch and when it arrived, sipped it with obvious enjoyment. Like all Parisians, she was in no hurry. She leaned slightly back and observed the movement around her: the beautiful mixture of people on the sidewalk passing by, so like works of art. Their colors varied, their sizes and shapes were unique, as were their own particular presentations and gait. Cars, buses, taxis, and motor bikes flew noisily by, honking and darting in and out of each other. Bicyclists rode by with briefcases purses, flowers, or baguettes in their baskets.
Back at the café, the quiet hum of multiple conversations peppered the sidewalk. The French speak lower in social places, so as not to disturb others. Still alone, the woman in the stylish clothes and now half-finished beer received her food from the server who was providing her with a grin and greeting. She set upon her plate of fresh salad greens and vegetables, and her basket of sliced bread, with polite relish. Occasionally, a passerby would catch her glance and smile or nod in her direction. She returned the gestures in kind. It was peaceful and joyful to watch this feminine creature bring into one synchronized moment, all that is exquisitely beautiful and radiant energy that can emanate from the female form.
As I sat not directly next to her but in her vibrational space, I became straighter in my posture. I relaxed my face and felt the gentlest of smiles begin to form on my lips. My hands moved in more graceful motions. I was connecting to that feminine beauty that is in all of us women, and I felt enriched, energized and capable of great love, to give and to receive. This beautiful woman had brought me to bliss.
As the moments sweetly passed, she finished her course and ordered dessert. When her plate of cheeses and baguette arrived, she did not set upon her plate, but as she had done with the meal, calmly took one piece at a time, sipping her beer, thoroughly enjoying the individual flavor of each piece. When her check arrived, I was sorry to see her go. Such a sense of presence is rare here in the states and I hated to break off the sense of connection I had made with it. As she gathered her bag, I noticed flowers peeking out of it, and wondered who she was decorating for – just herself, or a new lover? She left the café, walking down the sidewalk with confidence, I knew in looking at her that I was looking at what made the French women so French and secretly envied by the rest of us.
Why do we celebrate being female? Because feminine energy is a continuum of beauty, not a one stop shop.
The woman I described was not young, but mature. She had a slightly full figure. I would guess that she was in her late 60s or even 70s. If an elderly woman in this country with a slightly full figure, wore a sleeveless top, sexy sandals and drank a beer for lunch, the most kindly thing that would happen to her is that she would have been labeled “eccentric:” — or an alcoholic.
Of course, youth is always attractive because of the energy, though some of our young women sort of miss out on that and think at 17 they have to act older than their age. I see the 30 and 40 somethings and I see strength starting to settle into them, and I love the maturing of their faces. It adds such a beautiful dimension to their spirits. In Paris, when I saw the women who had to be well into their 70s and 80s, I immediately spotted a dignity and yes, a radiance to their faces.
It makes me giggle in delight. We women have an enormous amount of untapped power within us that is given to us naturally by our femininity. Deep in our gut, we know the fullest way to live is to value ourselves as women at every stage in our life.
International Woman’s Day is a gleeful, all-embracing celebration among us not only for our sameness as females, but for our uniqueness among ourselves. So vive la difference between the genders …and vive la difference among ourselves, mon soeur!
Happy International Woman’s Day