Tradition seems to be lost on young women today. Here’s what it really means to be a lady.
I’ve been reading the book Bringing up Girls by Dr. James Dobson, which focuses on raising a daughter that is healthy, happy, secure in her identity and prepared to face the challenges that young woman face today. It’s a Christian-based book and has some really great lessons that I wish I’d been taught as a young girl.
One chapter in particular struck a cord with me. Dr. Dobson shared an article that a columnist for the Wall Street Journal wrote about being a lady and how she felt on the topic. She gave her opinion on how, in today’s society, it’s creepy to be a lady, and shared some experiences she’s had that would embarrass the angels, as her op-ed piece is so properly entitled.
There are some things in there that I have to say are just part of living in the 21st century (security screenings at airports for example), but for the most part I couldn’t have agreed more with her assessment.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a lady as a “woman who behaves in a polite way.” It also says a lady is a “woman of refinement and gentle manners.” Dictionary.com defines a lady as a “woman who is refined, polite and well-spoken.”
For me, the definition of being a lady is having self-respect, class and etiquette, which includes good manners and politeness.
So why is being a lady so lost on today’s generations? I want my daughter to have self-respect, be polite, well-spoken and have good manners. And I would hope that most parents would want that for their children as well. So why is it considered old-fashioned to act like a lady? Why do we view women we consider ladies as weak, or meek? And why is it so lost on men to treat a lady with respect and act like a gentleman?
Now I’m not saying I think women need to be 2nd to men, or that a woman’s voice and opinions shouldn’t be heard. I think being polite, well-spoken and having good manners is something we all should do! Not just ladies. And I think raising our sons and daughters in this way will keep our children from becoming rude, inconsiderate a-holes honestly (I know, that was so unladylike like of me to say. My apologies).
Because we all know ladies are not born. They are made. Children and young adults are shaped by their parents and grandparents and those they look up to and respect.
My senior year of high school I was a princess in a county-wide festival. It has always been a more conservative festival, just recently having stepped out of it’s more traditional ways of dressing (think hoop skirts and pleated khakis with polos.). Besides a scholarship and friendships, the best thing I gained during that year was learning proper etiquette. We had etiquette class and learned proper place settings, how to eat, how to hold a glass and sit properly. We learned lady-like manners.
I’m also very traditional when it comes to the way a man should treat a woman. I think a man should open the door for a woman, walk on the sidewalk closest to traffic and pull out her chair at dinner. That’s the way I was raised and what I was taught to expect from a man.
My grandma and grandpa were the perfect examples of a lady and a gentleman. Growing up they had what you would consider traditional gender roles. My grandpa was the one who went to work and my grandma stayed home with my mom and 2 uncles. That’s what my grandparents wanted for their family. But my grandpa never treated my grandma like she was beneath him. He treated her with respect, kindness and love. And she expected it of him. He always opened the door for her. He valued her opinion and they were equals when it came to making decisions on the kids, home and finances. They had good morals and a strong foundation for a relationship built on mutual respect, trust and love.
I say we need to embrace those “old-fashioned” traditions and start acting like ladies. Elegance and confidence and treating others with respect, as well as having self-respect, isn’t something that should be lost on women today. I’m not saying these things because I’m some virtuous woman and I behave like a lady 100% of the time. Lord knows I’ve embarrassed the angels a few times in my life. But I do think learning the basics of how to act like a lady is something all of us women should strive for, and something we should teach our daughters as well. Take a cue from Kate Middleton ladies.
YES. How many times can I like this?? Let’s make it cool to be a lady again!
LOOOOOOOOVE this. I think it’s so important to be a lady. That doesn’t mean I’m throwing women’s rights out the window… it just means I wish to act and carry myself with integrity and I expect a man to treat me with respect as well. I also think that if you wish to be treated respectful, you need to respect yourself and demand that respect through your actions.
Sounds like a great read. I love Dr. James Dobson.
Thanks for sharing.
Love this! I agree completely and like Jennifer’s comment too. It’s something that is getting more and more lost in today’s world and it makes me sad. I hope to teach my daughters, if I have any, how to be a lady. Great post, Tiffany!
I love your definition of a lady and think that self respect is the best way to prove you are a lady for sure!! My mother taught me and my sister that and it’s one of her best lessons for us!! xo, Biana – BlovedBoston
I agree with you 100%. I want my daughter to be respectful, have self confidence and act like a lady… I do however want her to have a voice and speak up for what she believes in… there’s a fine line 🙂
Love this!! Interested in the book, too. These girls need as much help as they can get on this world. Just wish we weren’t in the minority. It feels overwhelming sometimes the values we have to push back against.
I love this too. Well said!!! I heard a quote once that said “Fathers should take their daughters out on dates so they can learn and know how they should be treated. And a mom should take her son out on dates so he can learn how to treat a lady.” 🙂 I will always raise my son to be respected, but also, to love, adore and treat his girl with beautiful respect as well. I also think it’s important to act lady like so our children can see a lovely and classy example. I agree!! Great post Tiffany!!! 🙂 xo
Can we arrange a future marriage between one of my sons and your daughter?!?! I so desperately hope my sons meet LADIES in the future, someone with a good head on her shoulders and self-respect. I’m also doing my part by trying to raise boys who will treat women like ladies, because I do NOT want this stuff to be lost! Great post Tiffany, I’m 100% with you!
I loved this post Tiffany– I could not agree more with most of this! I haven’t heard any of James Dobson’s books but I remember listening to Focus on the Family when I was growing up.
You already know I love this and agree with everything you said! Part of acting like a lady is giving respect and in turn, demanding it from the men you date (per my post last week!). My husband caught and kept my eye because he went out of his way to treat me like a lady.
Love this. I feel like a lot of women need etiquette lessons in attempt to class themselves up a bit. I truly don’t mean that in a nasty way…I just think there’s something to be said of how our Grandparents were raised and presented themselves. Society seems to have a lot lower expectations these days. And that’s really not a good thing in my opinion. Feminism is about choice and equality – I choose to respect myself and to choose a man that respects me in return. I think a lesson some people need to learn is if you don’t treat yourself with the utmost of respect, nobody else is going to either.
I love this! It’s so true! I definitely want to raise my kid(s) to know manners and politeness. I’m all for old-fashioned lady standards!
Brava! This post is spot on. This generation is all about standing out for things like being bossy, crass and pushy. Class is extremely important to me when raising my daughters. Self-respect is absolutely priority!!
I love this post, Tiffany! I couldn’t agree with you more! I want Palmer to grow up being a well rounded lady, knowing what it means to be respectful and respected, know to be polite yet be able to stand up for what she believes in. My husband is very much a “traditional” man and it really makes a girl feel good to be taken care of like that, but I respect myself and he respects me and we are equal partners!
Yes, yes and yes!!! 🙂
HAHAHA! Glad you liked this post Jenny. 🙂
Couldn’t agree with you more, Tiffany! I think old-fashioned is the way to go for both women and men. Like you said, it doesn’t mean women should peg themselves weak, but having poise and a sense of respect for their own self is a must, and something I’d like to instill my daughter as well. Gentlemen behavior should be the same. My husband has always been old-fashioned in his ways–he opens car doors, pulls chairs out at dinner, etc…and my only hope is that my daughter finds someone that treats her as so when she grows old. Great post! Thank you for sharing!
I would love to take an etiquette class. I always have to ask my husband, “which spoon do I do I use?” I believe there are some old fashioned characteristics that it wouldn’t hurt to keep around. I try to be lady-like as much as I can, but I’m human, and just like you have done some embarrassing things in my lifetime. I am still a lady though lol. Thanks for sharing!! #shinebloghop
The etiquette class was a great experience. And yes, definitely agree that some things that are considered old-fashioned should just be the norm right?!
Thanks for stopping by Brittany!
I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Great read