4.18.2011

stay classy.

(This was a "check my outfit" shot before heading out to a wedding this weekend...hence the lack
of focus + messy living room. Clutch, rug and mirror were all inherited from Naphtali!)


Once upon a time there was this boy. We worked together and I was gaga over him...but he had no idea I existed romantically. After some time passed, I consoled myself by purchasing the book "He's Just Not That Into You". Because, well, I was that girl. The girl who doesn't always get the message in love. So, I read the book, cried over unrequited admiration and decided to stop crushin' on someone who didn't notice me.

But, it was in reading this book that I discovered one of my favorite quotes:


Don't confuse being classy with being a doormat. 


I love those words, since I have a tough time grasping the difference between being a doormat and acting like a lady. Do the two feel synonymous at times?

While lingering over the phrase this week, I ran across a current article that boiled lady-like behavior down to this: a lady should wear a skirt, never think herself higher than a man, remain quiet and submissive and never appear bold. Holy smokes. Frankly, I've a tough time believing that a woman's only purpose is to sit prettily in skirts, ankles crossed, smiling at the world....never forming a free thought. There's certainly a place for beauty and for boldness in a lady's life, for freely expressing her thoughts and beliefs. For standing up to a man when she must. And while I feel the phrase "act like a lady" often comes into play only when referencing when one must be silent, being a lady is deeper than simply hushing up or lacing a social situation with a well-placed compliment...isn't it?


Is "act like a lady" simply a reminder to follow those unwritten etiquette rules...or is it more than meets the eye? Should we redefine the meaning of this phrase for the modern girl, or is this phrase totally timeless?



What does the phrase "act like a lady" mean to you? Do you embrace it or rebel against it?

16 comments:

  1. Wow. Loaded question. How intimidating to be the first to comment!!

    Ladylike has good connotations for me, but then again I try to see most things with those rosy glasses. I think it's possible to be gracious, well-groomed, and bold all at once. in fact--i think that a little lipstick and pair of fabulous heels can stir up confidence you never knew you had. does anyone agree?

    p.s. love the new housewares. trying to figure out how you got a straight on shot without the tripod in the mirror...you amaze me.

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  2. I think it's about having class and poise. I swear like a trucker sometimes. I wear jeans most of the time, and hoodies a lot. I speak my mind, and have been known to pay on a first date. I have even been "that crazy girl" after a breakup. And yet, I have been described by guy friends and boyfriends and ex lovers as being "classy" and "a real lady". So, really, I think it boils down to how much dignity you go through life with. Even if it does involve the odd drunk dial or F-bomb.

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  3. I would like to say that I usually embrace it, but as a recent dumpee after two and a half years, I've been more of a doormat than anything trying to get him back. NO LONGER!

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  4. For me at least, "ladylike" doesn't mean being submissive and allowing men to control you. I don't think it has anything to do with wearing skirts, having the martini ready when your husband comes home and making dinner every night - I'm actually quite horrified by the idea of that (probably because I've been raised to be horrified by it)

    I don't know how I WOULD define lady-like though - I just know the definitions of it that I can't stand. (like that one in your post)

    Thought-provoking post though, and I hope you enjoyed the wedding!!
    <3 Kiersten

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  5. What an interesting question. I instinctively rebel against the word "ladylike" because I think it's sexist. Although I embrace most things girly and feminine, I don't think that I should ever be expected to behave in a certain way according to my gender, or worse, that anyone would expect less of me than they would of a man. It's insulting that just by virtue of being a woman, it is "uncouth" for me to sit without my legs crossed or utter foul language. It puzzles me that this behavior is acceptable for men and not for women, and puzzles me even more that people don't challenge this socially-produced notion. For me, these ideas belong in the past (along with the idea that women shouldn't work or vote).

    However, I do support the notion that ALL people (men and women) should uphold a certain behavioral standard. Dignity, respect, poise, and pride are traits we should all aspire to, regardless of gender, right?

    Thanks for bringing this up! And that picture looks unreal. I cannot believe that's you--you look straight out of a magazine (that dress, those nails, the sweet clutch!

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  6. I was working on my response and then read what Claire wrote... and loved it! I second her.

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  7. LB's Oldest BrotherApril 19, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    As the father of two young girls, I would never think of "Act like a lady" as being submissive towards men. My girls are going to be strong and confident. To me the phrase means being polite and courtesy, speaking well i.e. Yes or no not yeah or nah. Being well dressed appropriate for the situation.

    My 5 year old started karate lessons last night. The first thing the instructor talked about was sitting with correct posture, speaking well, and showing respect because who is teacher going to give a better grade to the kid that slouches and say yea, or the kid who sits up, looks her in the eye and says yes ma'am.

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  8. Congrats on the swag from Naphtali!

    Ladylike? Comportment, deportment, attitude. Confidence and grace are very ladylike in my book. By all means a lady has opinions, aspirations, talents, worth, and may be called to install sheet rock at some time during her life...

    Occupation or clothing can't define a lady, but she is at all times considerate - making sure the person with whom she's sharing whatever experience (bus ride, dinner, concert, blog post) is at ease. It sounds like LB's older brother is well on his way to raising a lady.

    I will confess a weakness for old etiquette books - my favorite has a passage on how to enter a drawing room, complete with instructions to pause at the threshold, catch the eye of your hostess and make your way to her with brief but appropriate greetings for the people you pass...

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  9. Oh, I love that photo! Mirrors are a perfect little prop. I actually have the same exact shelf, but it is an olive green. I picked it up at an antique store. I want to paint it and haven't yet. So beautiful!

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  10. I don't really consider "ladylike" to be sexist in any way, the same way I don't think the term "manly" is sexist. They are simply descriptive terms for the appropriate gender - we do have 2 genders after all.
    Ladylike has always seemed like a compliment to me. It makes me think of someone who is composed, graceful, and dignified. I don't think of skirts or vacuuming in pearls. Otherwise I'd be in trouble as I don't own any skirts and I only wear dresses at weddings :)

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  11. That is brilliant! Being classy doesn't mean we have to be quiet and boring. No doormats! Wonderful :)

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  12. i have never thought of it as a statement of submissivity. (is that a word?) i have always thought of it along the lines of acting classy and crossing your legs when needed...on a different note i love this picture. i think it belongs in a magazine!

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  13. I guess I'm most concerned about the statement in that "current" article supposedly defining a lady. Seriously, as a woman, would you want a friend that was like that? I wouldn't, they would bore and frustrate me.

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  14. Personally, I embrace the phrase. (I know I am exceedingly late in commenting on this post but I have just recently stumbled across your blog-and I must say, I AM TOTALLY ENGROSSED! I just love it.)

    As I was saying, I embrace the phrase, because for me- aside from the immediate connections ones mind makes from that phrase to being the "silent, submissive woman"- it refers to a time where, yes in public the women were polite and perfectly poised, but that is because they CHOSE to wait until later to address the issues they had with their husbands, significant others, etc. And in my opinion, that is true power. Where you can control your emotions to the point of staying poised and not causing a scene and letting the offender know later what they did and why it was unacceptable.

    ....not to mention they always looked fabulous!

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