Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Simple Sophisticate, and Shannon had a new episode called, Why Not…Be a Strong Woman? I loved it, and it got me thinking of my own list of what traits make a strong woman.
Personally, I think, “strong woman” often gets intertwined unfairly with the word “bitch.” I’m probably going to piss some people off, but I know a lot of women who claim to be strong, but come off as bitchy, because they use “strong woman” as a defense mechanism.
For instance, someone has wronged then in the past, and they use that term as a way to try and never get hurt again, so instead of having the real strength of letting go and learning from the experience, they build a giant wall or act out in some way. I think you can think of a few people like that. 🙂
I also think being a strong woman is a journey, not necessarily a destination. Some days you may rock your strong woman-ness, and other days you may fall back into old patterns of thinking…myself included!
And while I 100% agree with Shannon’s list, I wanted to expand on it a bit more, and also enlist a group of my favorite female bloggers to tell me what they think makes a strong woman, or what makes them a strong woman.
A Strong Woman…
1. Isn’t petty, small-minded, or a gossip – Recently I’ve been paying more attention to people I spend time with, and the ones I enjoy the most don’t partake in a lot of gossip or talk about petty drama. A strong woman can speak on “bigger” terms like what is happening in the world, thoughtful opinions and discussions, etc.
Ironically, what makes me a strong woman today, was something I used to consider a weakness. My ability and willingness to experience a wide variety of emotions is what makes me strong. Previously, I tried to compartmentalize or hide emotions that seemed weak. I prided myself on the fact that I never cried, even privately. The problem was I still felt all those emotions, and they manifested themselves in other ways. I shopped too much, ate too much and always felt angry, which I hid, because it was a “bad” emotion. Thanks to some excellent mentors, I realized how my faulty thinking was hurting me. Now I find strength in how I feel and want other women to not be ashamed for “feeling” and instead see the power behind their emotions and let them fuel your passions. -Tanya from A Mindful Migration
2. Takes full responsibility for her life – I’ve said this a million times on this blog and I’ll say it again. No matter what happens to you in your life – good or bad, you have to own it, process it, make the best decisions regarding it, and do your best to move on.
3. Supports other women – My friend Michelle just wrote a post about this. Too often we see reality shows about women being horrible to each other as if there is only one spot at the top. This also goes back to gossiping were we cut each other down. A strong woman knows there is room for everyone to succeed and do well, and supports her friends and congratulates them when they achieve something.
This is a hard question to be asked…I feel like the World throws a lot of crap at you and finally learning how to deflect the crap, practice kindness to others and myself has made me a much stronger woman than I used to be. -Michelle from The Shop My Closet Project
4. Knows her boundaries – She knows that “no” is a complete sentence and knows how to take care of herself without people walking all over her or making her feel bad about her decisions and choices.
I believe what makes me a strong woman is that I, despite being married with two children, feel 100% independent and in control of my finances. If something were to happen to my husband, I feel as though I could take care of my family no problem with the income I make from my business, in addition to confidently planning for the future. -Cat from Budget Blonde
5. Doesn’t value herself based on other people’s opinions – I’ll admit, this is the hardest one for me. I’m very sensitive and get hurt easily by any kind of observation of myself that other people make, like when friends once told me I’d attract more guys if I just wore sexier clothes or cut my hair a certain way (or let it grow). A strong woman knows beauty is in the eye of the beholder and she will never be right for everyone. Her confidence comes from within and her physical appearance is only a reflection of that inner beauty.
6. Knows that physical strength can be feminine – Are you a woman afraid to get super sculpted muscles or look like a bad-ass athlete because you don’t think it’s feminine? A strong woman doesn’t care and knows that a strong body is just as beautiful as any other kind of body. She is not going to hold back at the gym and avoid sweating in order to look pretty.
I’m a strong woman because I can take care of myself, but am not afraid to be vulnerable and ask for help when I need it too. -Cait from Blonde on a Budget
7. Does not ask permission to pursue hobbies or her passion – Want to try something but you’re afraid your friends will think it’s weird or your husband will worry that you are growing without him? A strong woman knows that chasing a passion, pursuing a dream, or diving into a hobby only makes her a better person to be around. Without it their growth is stunted and they will eventually become a shell of a human, or feel bitter that they waited so long.
I think that I’m a strong woman because I’m resilient. I have had many successes in my life, but I’ve had more failures and I gain a great deal of strength every time I overcome those failures and move forward to other successes. -Shannon from Financially Blonde
8. Can take care of herself financially – It’s fine if you’re in a relationship and your husband/boyfriend/partner takes the lead on finances or you split duties, but a strong woman knows the ins and outs of the finances in the house and would be able to function just fine if something were to happen in that relationship. She knows that it’s her responsibility to understand her own finances, and/or that of the person she is in a relationship with.
9. Considers quality of friends over quantity – A strong woman enjoys being around a variety of different people, but considers only a handful to be good quality friends. The kind of friends who if you called them at 3 am for whatever reason, would be there for you. She takes the time to foster those relationships first, instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
For me, being a strong woman is all about making big, bold asks – whether it’s a salary negotiation or asking for a more flexible schedule to have more time at home. It’s remarkable how much you stand to gain just by pushing the limits of what you ask for. -Stefanie from Stefanie O’Connell
10. Can make fun of herself without making people feel uncomfortable – A perfect example of this would be Jennifer Lawrence, who makes fun of herself constantly, but it endears you towards her instead of making you feel uncomfortable. The not-so-strong woman makes you feel uneasy when she goes on about how fat or ugly she is…even if it’s done in the context of humor.
What makes me a strong woman is that I’m resourceful. I don’t always have the answers, but I’ll always try something new or a different approach, if it will help me get where I need to go. Also, I’m a strong woman because I keep trying and keep going, even if my mind tries to tell me otherwise. -Melanie from Dear Debt
11. Can travel alone – A strong woman loves to travel with friends or their significant other, but if they really want to go somewhere and no one is available, they are totally OK going on their own.
12. Is open and willing to learn and receive feedback – As a volleyball coach I can always tell the difference between someone who will do well at the game and someone who won’t. The person who won’t is someone who rolls their eyes at me when I offer suggestions to improve their game, or who tries to argue technique with me. It’s not aways easy to receive feedback or constructive criticism, but a strong woman is willing to listen with an open mind and heart.
I think what makes a strong woman is not letting society’s standards get in the way of how she lives her life. She doesn’t simply take “no” for an answer and seeks to overcome the common challenges women face, while inspiring other women to do the same. -Erin from Journey to Saving
13. Learns to get back up after being knocked down – Life isn’t always easy or goes according to plan. Even with the best goals and intentions, a strong woman will often get knocked down, but she will always get back up.
I think a strong woman needs a thick skin and the willingness to get back up and keep trying, no matter how many times she falls down. Sometimes, we need a physical object that makes us feel strong (for my mom, it was a red power suit). We slip it on, then we are our strongest selves. -Kathleen from Frugal Portland
14. Doesn’t have to be the center of attention – A strong woman lets other people be the center of attention and knows this has nothing to do with being shy, introverted, or not confident. She seeks to be interested, more than interesting.
15. Can admit when she’s wrong – I think there is a lot of attention surrounding phrases like, “happy wife, happy life.” What? A strong woman does not want to be married to a doormat, and if she does, she probably needs therapy. I know men are going to love this, but women can be wrong too, and a strong woman can admit that and apologize. This goes back to what I said earlier about bitchy women…they tend to not back down no matter what, which is quite unpleasant to be around.
Articulating why I think of myself as a strong woman is a challenge for me because it feels egotistical. I can say that what I aspire to be, and what I admire most in strong women, is a commitment to integrity, confidence, and the pursuit of personal development. Being your best self and helping others be their best selves. That’s what a strong woman is to me. -Natalie from Finance Girl
What do you think makes a strong woman, or why do you consider yourself to be a strong woman?