There was a time when women had to wear corsets and huge gowns. There was a time when women were expected to keep their opinions to themselves, when they were expected to lift their pinkies while they were drinking tea. They were expected to be ladylike in a time when that meant women were expected to keep quiet and look pretty.
That time is over.
Women don’t want to be “ladylike” anymore. That’s not what gains the most respect. People respect women who have ideas, and are bold and daring. When we think of a “ladylike” person, we think of the corsets and the ball gowns. We picture someone who’s contained and silent, and who lets her husband do the talking. Women have always been remarkable, and today, in the 21st century we are allowed to embrace it. So we do. We don’t want to be referred to as “ladylike” anymore. We are worth so much more.
So you could understand why I took offense when some boy at school started calling me “ladylike.” I felt like he was telling me that I was weak. I know he probably said it because I wear dresses and tights and lace. Or because I do ballet, or because I’m polite.
You could probably understand that when he noticed that I took offense, he kept on going, because he took some kind of pride in the fact that he could make me a little irritated (I usually don’t put up with annoying people like him). “Your giggle is so ladylike,” “Julia, you’re so proper,” “You’re so polite, you wouldn’t hurt a fly.” It went on and on.
It’s true. I like dresses, I do ballet, I’m polite, I’m not mean, and I giggle like a little mouse. But there is so much more to me.
Here’s how I see it. I dress different then most people at my school, right? Most wear Aeropostale sweatshirts and jeans. I wear chiffon skirts, tights, suede boots and blouses, but I don’t look at that as being weak or girly. I look at that as being brave and daring. I’m brave enough to wear something that no one else wears, because that’s who I am! If that’s what you mean by “ladylike” then yes. I am ladylike. I’m a confident, strong, independent, lady. I wear whatever I want to wear, despite the trends.
I’m polite and kind because those are my morals. That’s what I believe. I’m still funny, and sarcastic, and weird, but in a different way. I don’t let pop culture dictate my morals. I don’t say rude things, or possibly offensive things because everybody else is, or all the cool kids are saying them. I’m strong enough to stand up for what I believe in, even if some people disagree. If that’s what you mean when you say that I’m so “polite and proper” then you’re right. I am. I’m proud of it.
So, boy in my Social Studies class, the next time you tell me I’m ladylike this is what I’ll tell you:
“I’m a remarkable lady. If that’s what you mean by ladylike, then by golly, you’re right. But if “ladylike” means that I’m a weak, frilly, princess, then go find another adjective. There is so much more to me then that.”