What Is Lady Like?
A Value, A Common Stereotype, or Empowerment
When I used to hear the word lady like I'd think of reprimanding, scolding, and, quite honestly, the 18th century. I'd picture women in fluffy dresses with corsets who are constantly reminding each other to stay in their place. I'd think of my mother popping my hand telling me not to move a certain way because she decided to adorn me in a dress for the day. I'd remember teachers in school saying that I wasn't acting like a lady when my sassiness and strong opinion wasn't appreciated. Overall I viewed Lady Like as an undercover way of silencing a woman without out right telling her to be quiet.
I felt that when you were ladylike you were staying within the box that society had created for women. When you were lady like you were quiet, reserved, and limited. In my mind being Lady Like was an insult to my character.
However, now as a woman looking back I realize how magnificent those Lady Like beauties were. How refined and feisty they were. How gentle yet authoritative they came off as. I picture my grandmother, a magnificent force to be reckoned with as she moved in a lady like manor while still climbing mountains. How my mother while traditional at best still accomplished a lot in the corporate world that she worked under.
They embraced their womanhood and understood that they didn't want to change who they were or what they stood for while on their personal journey's. My mother told me something recently that has changed my whole mind set on what it means to be ladylike in what society has deemed a man's world.
She explained that
" If we have to act like a lady and think like a man doesn't it truly mean that its a mans world? Why cant we be successful and follow our dreams like women. The act like a lady think like a man mantra was another saying used to make women feel like they couldn't make it as they are, that they had to become the men in order to succeed. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Doesn't it prove that women and men are not equal if we cant go out as we are?"
That hit me right in the gut because I LOVED that mantra. I loved the thought of being able to play both roles and move forward but I realized that's all I was doing "Playing a role".
True strength as a woman is embracing our womanhood and our core values while expanding upon it. Not changing it to fit each situation. There is nothing wrong with gentle, refined, and sharp as long as you know when to be fierce, outspoken, and authoritative. That's the beauty of being a woman, that we can do all of that and still go home at the end of the day and take care of our husbands and children. We can go out and accomplish our dreams and still take care of home whether you're single, married with/without kids, or have a fur baby.
I realized that in this chapter of my life I want to embrace who I am. I want to walk around in my womanhood with my head held high as I continue marching towards my dreams. We spend a lot of time as women reaching for gender equality, asking for a chance and opportunity, and running from stereotypes but maybe the way to those things is to embrace who we are by showing what we bring to the table as women.
We don't need to "think like a man" because there are enough men already doing that. We need to move and think like women to bring forth versatility and expression. That doesn't mean that you need to wear dresses, heels, make up, or be silent. You can express your lady likeness in whatever way it resonates with you because the true way of being lady like is being empowered and fierce just as the woman you are. Its about maintaining your core values not about what you look like or your status in life.
I'm naming this new chapter of my womanhood "Embracing My Lady Like Character". I've spent so much time running from it and avoiding what it means that I've never allowed myself to be accepted as such. Yes, my mother was a traditionalist and expected certain things from me but at the same time she was building core values that would lead me through my life.
Core Values of a woman differ from person to person but the ones that I grew up with are loyalty, family, structure, self-confidence, tradition, balance, and resilience. No matter what or how I carry myself on the outside those values remain and that's what I have to bring to the table whether it be career wise, family, relationships, or just to myself.
When I think of the inspirational women of history, such as Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, and Sandra Day O'Conner, I see empowered, fierce, driven ladies who embraced their womanhood without the need to change who they were. They made history and paved the way for the women that we are today. Now, as a twenty-seven year old woman, I see the importance in maintaining my Lady-Like character and will move toward applying it into my life instead of running from it.
Authors Note: What does Ladylike mean to you? Do you believe that its still okay to embrace the term or is it outdated?
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