What does it mean to be “ladylike?”

Is being “ladylike” outdated?  Should women who flaunt their feminine confidence be considered traitors?  Do we really have a specific definition for “ladylike” these days?

A couple of days ago I was listening to the news on the radio.  I heard this editorial spoken by a teenage girl discussing her take on being”ladylike.”  She described a conversation with her male friend.  The guy asked her if she smoked.  She claims she paused before responding and then answered no.  The guy then said, “good because that is not ladylike.”  The girl proceeded to explain why she hates it when guys tell her what is ladylike and to dress more feminine.  She tries to tie her minor knowledge of the feminist movement with her current goal for higher education.

I found this piece very hard to listen to.  I can see where she is coming from, but I do not agree with how she defines and demeans “ladylike.”  She, of course is not the only one who feels this way.

I have an issue with current members of various feminist groups and women in general who imply that “ladylike” is demeaning to women and backwards in progress.  The feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s was concerned with gender inequality.  They spoke out against injustice, burnt their bras, and tried to eliminate the glass-ceiling.  Lots of women now don’t recognize their contributions, while others take it to a ridiculous extreme.

I don’t think we should give up all the gifts that come with being a woman to fit in a certain society.  We should embrace them and evolve with them.  There is nothing wrong with having doors opened for you, chairs pulled out for you, jackets draped on your shoulder, and heavy or light boxes lifted for you.  There is nothing strange in respecting your mind, body, and spirit…and expecting the same from others.  There is nothing unconventional in being a housewife, a congresswoman, an astronaut, a rock star, a nun, a trash collector, or an inventor.  Regardless of the existing gender inequality in and out of the workplace, the only existing glass-ceiling is the one you build.

So, is there really a definition for “ladylike?”  I feel that in this era, ladylike incorporates a woman’s personality and sense of style with confidence and ambition.  The beauty of it is that it’s not cut and dried or black and white.  Take the image up top.  I would describe myself as a mix between Grace Jones, Emma Watson, and Mary Poppins.   We have the freedom to switch it up and/or refresh it.  The key to all of this is the support and love within the community.  There should be a bond between all women, regardless of occupation or style or philosophy.  We should not talk down to those who choose to stay at home and nourish a family.  Neither should we shake our heads to those who choose to work to the top and have no kids.

We really need more love…and more “ladies” in the world.


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