We all know the stereotypes: there are the fashionistas teetering on their stilletos, the gold diggers and desperate housewives, the sugar daddies. There is even a website created for the benefit of fortune-seeking women – have you heard of it: sugardaddy.com? Yes, it exists!

While I don’t think it always appropriate or healthy to wince at the stereotypes, sometimes a bit of reflection is helpful. How did the stereotype originate? Is there any accuracy? I don’t know that adopting a wholly reactionary attitude to the prejudices and ignorance of the world is healthy, but to understand the way women are viewed by the world at large can help us identify the roots of the stereotypes and empower ourselves to demonstrate their insubstantiality. Well, at least in our own lives.

Western women are often pegged for their materialism. Sometimes the stereotypes ring true – I’m sure we’ve all known a few women with closets like the one I featured.

On the other hand, meet Francine. She’s promotes a gently minimalist lifestyle on her blog Miss Minimalist and in her book The Joy of Less, and I think she’s on to something big. I heard of her through another inspiring woman, a brilliant and conscientious female friend of mine, and I have been addicted to her blog ever since. The aftermath of my obsession includes multiple trips to Goodwill with bags and bags of unused clothing and less-than-essential household implements.

Why does Francine’s work inspire me, as human being and, in particular, as a woman? The minimal lifestyle not only demands that others reject their views of women as materialistic coquettes, but I believe it is truly empowering and foundational for the cultivation of a creative, resourceful and intelligent spirit. When our costumery, our accessories, our furnishings, all the various and sundry accoutrement of our lives are stripped away, perhaps we are able to truly discover ourselves in what remains, our genuine identities from within ourselves and not what we put on ourselves?

Francine’s blog comprises a masterful balance of minimalist philosophy and its practical applications. She practices what she preaches, and she freely shares the fruits of her hard-earned wisdom.

I believe exploring minimalism, whether it becomes a lifestyle choice or not, is important. Because our culture hinges on the disposable nature of our goods (and subsequent re-consumption), true (and voluntary!) resourcefulness is so undervalued. I love Francine’s thoughtful approach to her material possessions and the way in which she constantly relies on her own resourcefulness to meet her needs. Developing a resilient attitude that demonstrates competence, creativity and resourcefulness is at the heart of who I strive to be, and I am looking to her as a model.

Throughout the course of my inquiry on this blog, I hope to balance cultural criticism (the negative) with examples of inspiring women (both real and those in literature and film) who have reacted in creative and positive ways to misconceptions, prejudices and violence against women. I think we all have much to learn, and we need trailblazers to help us along the path. Francine is one such trailblazer.

How might a minimalist lifestyle contribute to the development of a creative feminine spirit? How might it be uniquely achieved from a female perspective? What might be its particular benefits for women?