Femininity is a slippery topic. The question of what it is to be a “modern woman” is as complex as it is unsatisfying. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with images of the so-called “ideal woman”, it is no wonder that femininity is often tied up with feelings of inadequacy.
Fortunately, for every air-brushed image of a model, there’s a sassy, confident woman like Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Here’s what she taught us about femininity in her award-winning show, Fleabag.
Hair Is Everything
“Hair is everything,” Fleabag declares in her impassioned speech to a hairdresser who dares to tell her ‘it’s just hair.’ “We wish it wasn’t so we could actually think about something else occasionally.”
Fleabag’s speech may be hyperbolic, but that doesn’t make it any less relatable. How our hair looks can be the difference between a bad day or a good day and that is just a face. It doesn’t make us any less feminist, it just means we are OK with being honest about our insecurities. Nonetheless…
It’s OK To Be A “Bad Feminist”
One of the greatest moments in Fleabag is in the first episode when she and her sister admit in a feminist lecture that they would trade years of their life for the so-called “perfect body.”
In a time where there are all kinds of conflicting voices on what it means to be the perfect feminist, it is reassuring to hear that actually, it’s OK to be a “bad feminist” every now and then.
Being Alone Doesn’t Mean You Are Actually Alone
Fleabag’s journey is largely one of what it means to be a single woman in the modern age. After the death of her best friend, Fleabag fears that she is entirely alone although ultimately, she comes to the quiet understanding that being on your own doesn’t actually mean that you are alone. That’s something that will either make sense to you or it won’t.
A Woman’s Pleasure Is Complex (And Important)
Throughout the series, Fleabag engages with all kinds of men and women. She normalizes the female gaze and reminds us that female pleasure operates in many different spheres. A woman’s pleasure is complex and its importance should not be underplayed or overlooked.
There Is No Correct Way To Be Feminine
Finally, the wonderfulness of Fleabag reminds us that femininity does not belong to one type of woman – or to women at all for that matter. Feminity is something that we are free to engage with as and when we choose. The question of femininity is not a question of how to be feminine, but rather a question of how the concept of femininity can be utilized to make you feel good. And that’s an extremely valuable lesson Fleabag shows us.