Being ladylike is defined as being a well-mannered woman or a girl, who respects traditional views on femininity. Other adjectives you may find among definitions are appropriate, quiet, behaving properly, being delicate and having a mild attitude.
There is a book by Candace Simpson-Giles called “Act like a lady” that supports these definitions. If you flip through the book, you will see some degrading advice. Let’s take a look at some of them and see what kind of message is being sent to all the girls out there.
- Being a lady is the highest compliment a woman can get: No. Just no. Being thought of as an inspiring person, being thought of as an intelligent woman who can communicate with others in a healthy way, who can speak up when she feels injustice or feels the words crumbling inside of her – that’s the highest compliment; or being complimented for showing yourself as a strong woman who has an attitude. Being thought of a funny person who can be loud sometimes – the sound of other people laughing to your jokes, that’s a much better compliment. Working hard for what you believe in, standing shoulder to shoulder with your colleagues (regardless of gender) – that is worthy of a compliment.
- 2. A lady would never ask for a free advice from her friends, in their field of expertise: Being this humble and submissive around people that are to be considered to be your closest ones, is beyond me. Since when did friends stop being the people you adore and cherish, that occasionally hold your back and support you when you need it?
- If a lady starts coughing in a theatre, she should leave the room for her own good and for good of the others: Yep. If you’re a true lady, don’t ever think about coughing in public. And make sure to excuse yourself and leave the room if you sneeze (it’s in the book, I’m not making this up).
- A lady will never discuss her breakups with others: Yes she will. Because humans have a natural need to share their feelings with others and look for consolation in conversation. And that is perfectly normal.
- A lady must learn how to look good in photos: I’m never going to master that. Some people just aren’t photogenic.
- A lady will never point out bad behavior of someone else: That’s just to underline the whole concept of what being ladylike offered here actually means. It means staying quiet and keeping everything inside. If someone I care about is not treating me right, I sure am not going to keep my mouth shut.
- If a lady is unsure when to applaud at some performance, she should be lead by others in the audience: A lady here is shown as insecure, so she should not be a leader, but let others lead her.
There are plenty of examples. What you can see here is that a lady is considered to be a female person that obtains a certain false image of herself that she then offers to society. She feels angry, but she feel smile at you. She feels sad, but she will stay quiet. She feels like a human being, but she will suppress that in order to be considered as a lady. These ladylike portraits of women seem blank and artificial, completely dehumanized. Where is passion in this definition? Where are emotional breakdowns and excessive joy and euphoria? Where is vitality in this portrait of a lady, when she is bound by the imposed rules that are contrary to her natural tendencies?
The point is: it doesn’t matter if you act like a lady or not, because those categories are relevant and changeable. It is all about feeling good about yourself, choosing to be who you want to be and surrounding yourself with the people who, not only can handle it, but will love it.
At the end, here’s something to make you laugh. A funny video from BuzzFeed to sum up this ladylike theme. I’ve got 8/12, what’s your score?