Over the last 13 months, women have found the courage to speak up and be heard, starting with a tsunami of #MeToo accounts of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and elsewhere. In the midterms elections, a historic number of women won in national and state-level races. And more recently, former first lady Michelle Obama has bravely opened up about her deeply personal miscarriage, and that her seemingly picture-perfect marriage has included marriage counseling.
Lending a new voice to the ever-evolving conversation is the just published The Feminine Revolution: 21 Ways To Ignite The Power Of Your Femininity For a Brighter Life And A Better World, co-authored by Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors, which advocates that women embrace—and celebrate—their authentic selves. It includes a collection of voices from numerous women in a variety of professions—including athletes, models, actresses, writers and therapists—all candidly sharing their views on just what femininity means to them.
And, not surprisingly, it’s a broad and inspiring view.
Supermodel Cindy Crawford talks about how there isn’t one way to express femininity—especially in the world of fashion.
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“My goal isn’t to be the most feminine person I can be; my goal is to be my most authentic self,” she said in an exclusive interview with co-author, Stanton.
“It’s about what speaks to me. If this frilly top makes me feel good, then I wear it — but I might feel just as feminine in a T-shirt and jeans. To me femininity is an expression of how you feel.”
Former pro volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece, who wrote the book’s foreword, talks of how female coaches and athletes “encouraged me to be aggressive — a trait that’s typically considered ‘masculine’ — trained me to accept this part of my own nature, my unique expression of femininity. I realized that being strong and aggressive did not take away from or diminish my femininity.”
The desire to embrace authenticity is what led co-author Stanton on her journey to explore the importance of accepting, rather than repressing, the sides of herself she considers feminine — such as sensitivity and emotional openness.
“We have to hide the more feminine aspects of ourselves because they are going to be perceived as weak,” Stanton tells PEOPLE.
“Society deems femininity and all these feminine qualities as weak ,” she continues. “The whole premise of the book is that we may be labeling them that way but in fact they are our greatest powers.”
The book, written with Connors, the co-founder and CCO of Maverick (a network for girls and young women), tackles topics such as “Cry Openly,” “Own Your Intuition” and “Unleash Your Wild Woman.” “There wasn’t a conversation around this aspect of femininity and a more personal exploration of who we are,” says Stanton. “Who is our authentic self and how do we let these feminine qualities shine rather than repressing them.”
“I think that one of the more surprising things,” she adds, “was the resistance some women have to the idea of femininity. They feel it’s taking a step backwards or it’s a labeling thing.”
Stanton, 45, runs a marketing and public relations firm — and is a sports agent to female athletes, including snowboarding Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson.
She had been told by her mother at a young age that she was too sensitive; Stanton’s now embraced that quality to become a better boss and friend. “It allows me to be more compassionate with my employees,” she says. “It’s incredibly powerful.”
“We all bring different things to the table,” she adds, “but one of the reasons we feel it’s so important to bring femininity forward is that there is not enough of it out there.”