It’s no secret that I signed up for several Challenges this year- one of which was the Refine Challenge, which was supposed to span the month of January. When I signed up, I was so excited because I haven’t found a challenge quite like it. But today an email came into my inbox announcing that the Refine Challenge would be taking a hiatus, and my first reaction- in all honesty- was to be relieved.
On her website, Joel Charming’s Refine Challenge claims to be about encouraging women to explore their Femininity and Womanhood. As someone currently struggling to become more Feminine than I feel I currently am, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help me get back in touch with that… So with zeal, I signed up for it 3 days after its beginning earlier this month.
And then the first email came and it was nothing like what I expected. I couldn’t figure out what the topic had to do with Femininity and exploring it- but I chalked my confusion up to coming in to the party late. Explanations were likely included in the first few emails- which I wouldn’t have access to, as clarified by her in her Facebook group for the challenge; I was probably missing information.
But as the challenge went on and the emails kept rolling in I found myself more and more disappointed with the challenge. Some things like “Finding your signature” (referring to style and appearance) were actually helpful. However, I found that very few of the activities thought provoking or inspiring, and in many cases I didn’t see the correlation with exploring Femininity and the topics of the challenges; the confusion wouldn’t lessen and no clarity on the subject was achieved for me.
Ultimately the challenge wasn’t what I had hoped. I actually found more of what I wanted in a Tumblr ask– which has provided much more thought provoking content concerning Femininity and being a Lady in fewer characters than the Refine Challenge has managed to do since its start; I went into it looking for a great source of internal reflection on Femininity, an exploration of the concept, and how to put it into practice. But that’s not what I felt like I found. I feel like the description is quite misleading, in all honesty- inveigling us into joining in with sweet promises it can’t and didn’t deliver on.
In a lot of ways, though, I do think this challenge could be beneficial for some. It does encourage you to be unapologetic about your Femininity, and recognize that Femininity does not mean meekness; that being Feminine and enjoying Feminine things doesn’t make one milquetoast… And it very well might be that I’m generally a querulous person by nature… But even though I can see where, for someone unfamiliar with Femininity these things could be beneficial and a great foundational introduction… Ultimately I didn’t- and still don’t- see where things such as spoiling yourself, taking personal responsibility, resting for the day, and counting how many times you apologize crosses into the realm of Femininity; trying on Lingerie, paying attention to your posture, making a wishlist, and trying a new lipstick shade doesn’t feel like “exploring” Femininity to me… It feels like playing dress up without any real substance.
I was so disappointed that I stopped participating altogether right around the time the emails started coming longer and longer apart- a signal something was unraveling behind the scenes… And so with the hiatus, I feel relief.