A portrait of curly-haired woman with glasses.

Traditional beauty standards encourage women to embrace their femininity by growing their hair and maintaining a small waist, among other things. This has led many to pick their physical features apart and fixate on those that are not so “soft,” like a sharp jawline, broad shoulders, a wider torso, or muscular legs. It’s all too easy to fall into this trap of self-criticism. But the fact is that you can’t change the body you’re born with, at least not entirely.

Masculine vs. Feminine Physical Features

Each person has their own standard of beauty; however, most people seem to agree on so-called “secondary sexual characteristics” as the key markers of attractiveness.

Secondary sexual characteristics (SSCs) refer to a range of gender-specific physical traits that signal reproductive health. It’s classified into two categories: masculine and feminine. Men who have “traditional” masculine physical features such as a strong jawline, , broad shoulders, and are considered dominant and handsome. Meanwhile, a slender frame, , wide hips, and ample breasts are idealized as beautiful in women.

What these rigid binary distinctions fail to acknowledge is the complexity of human bodies. Realistically speaking, everyone may possess a combination of both masculine and feminine characteristics.

A woman can have an as well as jacked arms, and these contrasting qualities don’t diminish her femininity nor attractiveness. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Unabashed Body Shaming and Gender Policing

Femininity has always been a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” type of situation. Stay skinny, but have some curves. Do makeup, but keep it natural. , but display no emotions. There’s no winning because you can’t accomplish both, even if your genetics give you all the feminine physical features. Yet, women still face scrutiny and rejection for not conforming to traditional beauty standards.

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players ever, has been the subject of countless hurtful remarks about her athletic build. Trolls likened her to a man and called her a gorilla while also sexualizing her curves. Sadly, Williams is not the only female star who has had to endure this kind of treatment. In an interview with Variety, Emmy-winning actress Hannah Waddingham recounted how her drama teacher once said she wouldn’t make it in the industry because of her masculine facial features. 

People often brush off these insults as silly jokes when in fact, they send a message that a woman’s only worth is her looks. Worse yet, women are forced to choose between changing their bodies or staying true to themselves but risking being cast aside.

You Can Have Masculine Features and Be Beautiful

It’s true that society may perceive some of your physical features as more masculine, but don’t let it rain on your parade. Rewriting will take a lifetime, perhaps even longer, and it’s too heavy a burden to bear alone. The best thing you can do for yourself is accept who you are, unapologetically.

Unfeminine is not a shorthand for undesirable, unworthy, or unwanted. Celebrate your body – all its quirks and glory – through acts of . One simple way to do so is by pampering your skin with Dove Deeply Nourishing Body Wash. Made with NutriumMoisture™ technology, it cleanses and delivers nourishment deep into the surface layers of the skin.

You can also try using Dove Go Fresh Sakura Blossom Body Wash, which contains sakura flower and Himalayan sea salt extracts for a glowing complexion. Its Microbiome Gentle Skin Prebiotics Formula helps replenish lost moisture and maintain your skin’s protective barrier.

Forget what haters may say. You’re a 10, whether you have big calves, facial hair, or other unfeminine physical features. Nothing matters more than feeling confident in your skin. But if you want to tweak your appearance, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that either, as long as you do it out of your own convictions, not out of the pressure to fit in.