What Is The Divine Feminine? Here's How TikTok Is Getting It Wrong And 5 Ways We Can Correct The Narrative

If you’re a woman who has been on the internet in the last couple of years, you have likely heard at least one of the following terms: The Soft Girl. The Pilates Princess. The Divine Feminine.

By Baylee Hunt7 min read
Pexels/Thanh Luu

These are the various titles of the aspirational female archetype that began trending on social media platforms last year. However you want to label her, she is in direct opposition to the girlboss that pop culture has spent the past decade idolizing. At first glance, the trend appears to be another aesthetics-centered consumerism trap, but as far as internet fads go, this one has the potential to have lasting positive effects.  

If you haven’t stumbled across the soft living or Divine Feminine content on TikTok or Instagram yet, here’s a quick rundown: The viral videos often depict a female content creator putting on her makeup, wearing designer clothes, or getting into an exotic car. The caption or her message will be something along the lines of: “Get into your receiving energy. Don’t chase, attract. Put yourself first. As a woman, you are meant to be worshiped and cared for. Remember, you are the Divine Feminine.” 

Videos of this sort exploded in popularity last year. Some users describe the Divine Feminine as “being deserving of good things.” Other explanations are less vague, explaining that a girl knows she is truly in her feminine energy when she no longer needs to work, stress, or pay for things. Judging by the engagement on videos of this sort (the #DivineFeminine hashtag has amassed over a billion views on TikTok), the concept seems to be resonating with young women. Possibly because they have felt for a while something is unsatisfying about hustle culture, or maybe it's because this soft girl lifestyle is often illustrated by hot girls in Range Rovers on their way to a $55 pilates class. The latter definitely sounds dreamy, but is it misleading young women about what femininity really is? 

The Reactionary Rise of the Divine Feminine

Mainstream media has certainly made it murky to navigate early womanhood. For the past decade, pop culture has served society the anti-feminine: female musical artists glorify treating men as disposably as they supposedly treat women. Romance plots in film and TV are now often relegated to the B-plot, something that happens on the side while the female star runs the business/climbs the mountain/slays the dragon. Once-beloved magazines that claim to have women’s best interests at heart publish articles about casual hookups, how "empowering" cheating on your spouse is, and keeping a roster of men around. The internet continues to financially and socially reward women who post risque photos of themselves on their social media platforms. 

For such a “free” generation, women today are statistically sadder and less fulfilled than ever before. A study in its fifteenth year annually surveying the well-being of young women in the UK reported the number of girls aged 7-21 who say they’re very happy has decreased from 40% in 2009 to 17% in 2023

Researchers have explored the correlation between women becoming sadder despite objective improvements in the female quality of life for years. Compared to generations past, it’s inarguable that women have more financial opportunity, control over fertility, and freedom to make choices with fewer societal stigmas than ever before. Women are even outnumbering men on college campuses. Yet, regardless of age and education, the percentage of antidepressant use is consistently higher among women than men.

Additionally, The Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary released in 2020, warned us suicide rates among teenage girls were up 70% in older teens and 150% in younger teens compared to studies done a decade prior. The TV program that captivated the attention of the country for a moment quickly became old news, though we have done little as a society to address the sobering data its makers provided. We have instead marched forward into even more potentially harmful territory in the digital realm, with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence. One of AI’s more disturbing offspring is the AI woman, a creation that can be seen on Instagram, some with tens of thousands of followers already. With their shiny white teeth and perfect bikini bodies, they might fool you into believing they are a real human. Social media just wasn’t unrealistic enough before, we had to go ahead and make it actually, well, unreal. 

It’s natural to see these statistics and look for something or someone to blame. Parents, the government, and Mark Zuckerberg have all been culprits accused of being responsible for the decline in the mental health of our youth. Predictably, some circles have taken this opportunity to declare, yet again, that women are unfairly oppressed by the so-called “patriarchy” that supposedly still runs rampant. 

This new wave of femininity is actually a beautiful demonstration of personal accountability. Girls are trying to fight back: “What we’ve been doing isn’t making us all that happy, let’s try this instead. Maybe acting differently will produce different results.” Revolutionary

The Divine Feminine trend is a mobilization of women who want to regain control over their happiness and find purpose.

The Divine Feminine trend is a mobilization of women who want to regain control over their happiness, to find purpose, and to fight back against the social programming that is causing this dissatisfaction. For those who have been concerned about the damaging effects modern feminism has had on culture, it has likely been relieving to observe women on the internet developing a newfound interest in being, well, womanly.

Many women are embracing a return to slightly more traditional thinking. (Is it any surprise, with so much war in the media the past couple of years? Maybe we needed to bring up the possibility of a draft years ago…suddenly women are on board with the previously dubbed “toxic” male protective instincts again). 

Maybe you have found yourself embracing this mindset too. Maybe you have witnessed the pain that mainstream activists are causing your brothers, boyfriend, and father by referring to them in general as oppressive predators undeserving of sharing their opinion simply because it’s delivered in baritone. Maybe you’re experiencing an unfulfilling dating life with men who have been castrated by the media. Maybe you’re tired of vulgar music, the new normal of explicit nudity in TV shows, and ubiquitous power blazers in women’s fashion (*shudder*).

If you have ever been called an old soul, a prude, or were assumed to be from the Midwest, it’s likely that you, too, have felt an inkling of not fitting into the hyper-sexualized, girls-rule-boys-drool society we find ourselves in. 

True Femininity Is More Than Perfect Makeup and a Sundress

However, the swinging pendulum that shifts culture tends to take us to extremes, and a world where information is consumed through 15-second clips can make it hard to see the bigger picture. For some, these viral social media videos about becoming feminine might serve as thought-provoking inspiration for how to live a softer life, but without nuance, they can lure young women into a shallow and self-absorbed cult running on lip gloss and kitten heels. It’s important to keep in mind that much of social media content is consumed by teenagers and young adults finding their way in the world, who may be more susceptible to taking the tongue-in-cheek message of a quick TikTok video at face value.

The videos are attention-captivating, after all. A beautiful woman promising security and a fulfilling dating life seems like a good trade-off for following her account and maybe purchasing some of the linked products that earn her commission. 

Perhaps one element so entrancing about the videos is the slightly removed disposition of some of the women. While there certainly are creators trying to spread a more meaningful message, many of the videos make femininity about creating yourself into a goddess on a pedestal, an intangible angel worthy of worship. They emphasize perfecting beauty routines, prioritizing self-care before anything else, and manifesting a relationship as a stay-at-home girlfriend who lounges all day with a man’s Amex. The messaging seems detached and unemotional at best, and creepy and manipulative at worst. 

What's more, this message is still heavily based in "What can a man do for me?" without mention of inner analysis and truthfully answering what a woman can do for a man. Sounds a lot like Girl Bossing 2.0. 

This quality girls are clamoring to procure comes from within. It’s a glow that shines outwardly when you have love and faith and kindness in your heart. 

The pursuit of cultivating feminine energy will leave a girl feeling empty unless it’s rooted in something meaningful. Many of these trending videos focus on the skin-deep aspects of femininity, with some confidence and spirituality tips sprinkled in. Skincare and crystals are the cherry on top, but to be actually enriching the why has to be based in the true essence of feminine energy: exuding genuine warmth, practicing compassion, caring for loved ones, respecting masculine energy, homemaking, or contributing goodness to the world in some regard.

This quality girls are clamoring to procure comes from within. It’s a glow that shines outwardly when you have love and faith and kindness in your heart. 

Maybe these intangible characteristics will be the next lessons preached by the femininity gurus. Unfortunately, virtues aren’t very profitable. Influencers and social media platforms don’t want you to know that you can be a glowing Venus in a $20 sundress the same as you can in designer stilettos.  

The “Giving” Aspect of Femininity

There is extraordinary information available to us on the internet. We have access to brilliant and creative ideas from people all over the world. With so much in front of us, the difficult part of consuming online content is finding the balance and nuance in those ideas. We all know the algorithms push edgy and controversial videos that keep users’ attention, meaning reasonable messages easily get washed out. The pendulum has already swung far away from the girlboss in some online communities and has introduced an extreme variation of the Divine Femininity trend via the glorification of becoming hyper-traditional

Emerging femininity creators are sharing videos that feel like a slip into the world of Pride and Prejudice: long dresses, baskets full of vegetables, and laundry hang-drying on a line outside. It’s a photogenic lifestyle, no doubt (who couldn't look at photos of gardens, horses, and pastries all day?), and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sound like my own personal Heaven. The videos are meant to be aspirational, but it’s important to remember these illustrations are content creators’ efforts to sell something to you, even if it’s just their monetized lifestyle brand. Just as lounging in a matching Lululemon set doesn't automatically define you as Divine Feminine, nor does wearing shapeless dresses and baking sourdough on a farm. A woman living in a city has the same potential to be a feminine goddess as one cozied up on 10 acres. A woman cultivates her femininity by living with purpose and warmth, regardless of her employment status, residence, or fashion taste.

Someone like Blake Lively comes to mind, one of a few ladies in Hollywood publicly making it chic to be a family woman. Or my mom, the most radiant and youthful person I know, who works to save lives in public health, and has been an example for my family of unwavering spirituality, faith, and motherhood. A woman can give her gifts in a multitude of ways, and a joy of being on this planet is finding different ways to share them through each phase of life. 

The “giving” aspect of femininity is what garners the most criticism. Any suggestion of a woman existing to “give” or “nurture” lights the modern feminists on fire, but if we are going to dissect femininity, it only makes sense to honor some of the original beliefs behind the duality of masculine and feminine energies: the yin and yang. These ancient concepts have importance in Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese Cosmology. The yin and yang teaches that masculine and feminine energies are contrasting but inherently in service of each other. The masculine energy gives just as much as the feminine, just in a different way. Mainstream media wants us to put ourselves first, and to think this role of servitude is somehow degrading, but what is so wrong with nurturing and caring for those you love? How can a generation of women encouraged to be selfish raise the next generation of good humans adequately?

Social platforms, pop culture, and politics are teaching women that selfishness, aesthetics, and consumerism are the keys to happiness (a lonely, unfulfilled, and narcissistic population serves some part of their agenda…not to be conspiratorial…).

What the world really needs are more girls and women working to become the most uniquely loving, supportive, and joyful people they can be. 

What the world really needs are more girls and women working to become the most uniquely loving, supportive, and joyful people they can be. The expression of femininity is about energy and has little to do with physical looks or clothing. Feminine gifts can be shared in so many ways that make the world a better place: by slowing down to be more in the moment, looking for goodness, creating art, cheerfully greeting coworkers in the morning, showing kindness to strangers, motherhood, being playful into late age, volunteering, and guiding other women on their paths. 

As far as internet fads go, the Divine Feminine trend is a refreshing model to aspire to. We can be optimistic the right seed has been planted.

Encouraging women to embrace their nature and cultivate a softer approach to life provides the opportunity to revolutionize society and reharmonize the masculine and the feminine, repairing the damage done between them in recent years.

To truly discover your Divine Feminine, try answering these questions: What goodness do I send out to the world? How is my attitude in the day-to-day? What butterfly effect could my presence be creating? Am I giving love and warmth to any people in my life regularly?

How To Cultivate Your Unique Femininity

Here are some ideas for cultivating your unique Divine Feminine: 

Have a genuine respect for men and their masculinity. Everyone is trying their best. The same structure that has damaged women has potentially harmed men even more. Show compassion. Some Daoists would say the biggest aspect of femininity is its relationship to masculinity and vice versa.

Have faith in something bigger than you, whether that’s God, the Universe, or the Earth. Pray or meditate. Learn about the beliefs of civilizations’ past. Read books on spirituality. Pursue ideas that make you feel connected to the earth, and fill your heart with belief that the world is getting better. Develop faith that it is all working out in the way it is supposed to.

Be thankful for what you have. Maybe you found a career you love. If you are just working to make money, do it well, but don’t let it consume you. Fill your free time with activities that make you feel full of love and light. It’s not about what the feminine woman does, it’s about how she does it. 

Be selective about the media you consume. Music, films, and social media can either elevate your mindset or drag it down. Are you singing along to songs glorifying BBLs and casual hookups? Is your Instagram feed full of girlbosses telling you that you don’t need a man because they’re all cheaters? Filling your brain with these messages is subconsciously affecting you. Look for romantic music, and follow happily married people who inspire you to believe in love. When in doubt, go old. Music and movies of decades past just did it right.

Get outside yourself as often as you can. It’s easy to bury our heads in our own silver screen-worthy dramas, but that does nothing for ourselves or anyone else. Volunteer your time once in a while, whether to your community, your friends, or your family. Strive to bring loved ones peace and joy. Most bad moods can be remedied by getting outside your own head.

Closing Thoughts

After years of girlbossing, femininity is making a comeback in a major way. For the good of our society, and the world at large, we need this trend to span beyond appearances and instead inspire a mindset makeover. This may or may not involve a whole lot of traditionally feminine things, but making your heart’s energy the priority means your proprietary blend of femininity will fall naturally into place. If you set the goal every day to be the kindest, warmest, and uniquely loving woman you can be, the rest will flow to you in a divine way. 

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