This week I had the pleasure of meeting a couple civilian contractors that support our unit’s maintenance, supply and fieldings. I always ensure that I ask for their business card and put on my best smile. I make them smile, try to make a personal connection and then when they see me next time they have a huge smile on my face and remember me immediately.

I find that using your “feminine mystique” to your advantage in the military is key…but be careful not to abuse the privilege. I recently read an article by Rebekah Iliff from the website “Young Entrepreneur” called “How Today’s Young Female Entrepreneurs Embrace their Feminine Mystique. In the article Rebekah talks about “bellism” which is used to represent the modern day business woman: “smart, strong, beautiful and unapologetic.” Bellism encompasses four features listed below:

1. Don’t be a woman in drag (Be graceful, be whip smart but lighthearted rather than act like a witch towards men).
2. Understand the nature conundrum (using your beauty to your advantage- understanding the power of beauty and femininity, and how it can be used as a catalyst to drive male-decision making, is absolutely necessary)
3. Don’t be a “manizer.” (let men treat you like the badass that you are, from arm’s length)
4. Be of service. (female-driven entrepreneurship has the ability to defy logic and reach heights that profit-only endeavors will never accomplish).

I feel all of these appropriately apply to females in the military. I feel often times, ladies try to be one of two personas: Barbie or Butch. Barbie acts as is she is constantly helpless, uses her feminism to an obscene advantage to the point where her counterparts almost expect that she will need assistance with every task. She flaunts her beauty and uses it to get by. Butch on the other hand acts completely the opposite: though she may look like a lady, she cusses, spits, dips and rubs shoulders daily in conversations that should be reserved for men only. She wants to be “one of the guys” but is never looked at as a lady. Instead she is viewed, as crude, brass and unappealing.

The importance of knowing these two extremes is to help find yourself a healthy balance of the two. I used the example from work to show I used my femininity to network in the workplace. I never try to over-flaunt and flirt with my coworkers or counterparts, but I do always try to make sure they know I am approachable, strong yet not necessarily “one of the guys.” It is important for men to see that you are a lady, but never drown yourself in feminism to the point where you turn into the typical Barbie. Don’t necessarily act like a bitch, but stand your ground, be firm on your beliefs, opinions and products to retain credibility 100% of the time.

Girls in Green, Act like ladies, walk strong and carry a big stick!

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