If after reading this title you’re a little bent out of shape or feel insulted really … give us a chance to explain.
Let’s first talk about why many women find the term “lady” offensive. There are plenty of reasons. First of all, women in lower-earning professions are often called “lady.” You have your cleaning lady and your saleslady, for example. So there’s that.
The feminists of the 1970s didn’t like the word at all. They felt it portrayed women who didn’t have a job, wore pearls all the time, sat with their legs crossed at the ankle and lunched a lot. That was not the image the feminists wanted to perpetuate for women who wanted to be taken seriously in the world.
THE WORD ‘LADY’ TODAY
But today, the word “lady” has become acceptable. When you don’t feel comfortable being called a girl, but you don’t want to be called a woman because that makes you think of your mom, lady is a good alternative. Female friends often say, “Hey lady,” as an affectionate greeting. Your man might use it as a pet name.
Learning how to be a lady in this case is simply defining what traditionally have been admirable qualities to possess, qualities that are attractive to men who might be ready to settle down.
There’s a popular e-card going around that goes like this:
Being female is a matter of birth. Being a woman is a matter of age. But being a lady is a matter of choice.
The following definitions explain different types of ladies and how you can be one… if that’s something you desire:
THE 1950S HOUSEWIFE
If you want to channel another era and learn how to be a lady, you can develop traits the ladies of the 1950s embodied. There’s even a website called Retro Housewife devoted to this way of living that questions whether “having it all,” meaning a marriage, career and children, is really the way to go (we decided not to link to it, because it is a bit offensive, but if you want to find it, just Google “retro housewife”).
Here is the site’s manifesto:
We spent the ’80s and ’90s trying to do it all. Now we are tired, overworked and want to offer a different life plan. We want to stay home, take care of our kids, our husbands and give them the attention they deserve.
Obviously, this isn’t the route for everyone. But if it sounds good to you, here’s how to be a 1950s style housewife:
- Sit with your knees together, ankles crossed
- Never cause a scene
- Never use bad language
- Dress modestly, often in dresses, pearls and heels
- Act graciously
- Keep fresh-cut flowers in your home
- Give compliments
- Run the household
- Cook meals
- Clean the house
- Know home remedies
- Knit or sew
- Raise children
- Appreciate your husband
- Take care of yourself
- Take care of the pets
- Take care of the household finances
As you can see, the life of a typical 1950s housewife was a lot of work. You can channel that lady for yourself, or you can redefine the term.
THE MODERN LADY
Just being a female doesn’t necessarily make you a lady. Learning how to be a lady today could mean embracing any, all or none of the 1950s housewife traits. Being a lady means different things to different people.
Here are some modern day ways of being a lady:
A LADY SHOWS HER CHARACTER
The ways in which you behave to others show people your character. A lady acts with strength and is kind, gracious, self-assured, thoughtful and isn’t trying to act like a man.
A LADY IS THOUGHTFUL ABOUT HER APPEARANCE
A lady isn’t so much concerned with makeup and the latest fashions, although she could be; she knows that beauty is found within. But when she does select a dress to wear, she heeds this quote from Edith Head:
Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.
Men are visual creatures, and you must dress for success in love!
A LADY IS HONORABLE
A lady follows through with commitments she makes, even if they become inconvenient to her. She is generous with her time and helps others when they need it. She is not a martyr. She takes care of herself first, putting her in a position to be there for others.
A LADY IS ALWAYS LEARNING
When learning how to be a lady, remember that a lady is never an arrogant know-it-all. She is always open to learning new things and likes to teach others if asked.
A LADY DOESN’T COMPARE HERSELF TO OTHERS
A lady doesn’t feel jealous of or better than others. She respects people. She is confident in knowing who she is regarding her strengths and weaknesses.
A LADY HAS MANNERS
A lady is polite to others. She treats all people the same, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation. A lady also says “Please” and “Thank you” to people, always displaying basic manners. This is of course fantastic from attracting and impressing a guy.
A LADY STATES OPINIONS AND STANDS UP FOR HERSELF
When a lady states her opinions, she does so with a sense of grace and humor. She has a positive outlook and uses her wisdom to make changes. This behavior attracts people to her and encourages them to listen to what she has to say.
A LADY UNDERSTANDS THE WORLD
The world is often a sexist and misogynistic place, and ladies and women are concerned with changing that. But a lady doesn’t become bitter about the way the world is. Instead, she becomes hopeful about changing it.
A LADY DOESN’T BITCH ABOUT HER FRIENDS
A lady doesn’t constantly complain and gossip about her friends. She knows that no one wants to hear complaints and nastiness all the time. There’s a difference between bringing something up to discuss and constantly putting people down.
A LADY MONITORS WHAT SHE PUTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
It’s tempting to post on social media your bar scene or wild party photos of you in a sexy outfit, but stop and think before you post. If you wouldn’t want a future employer, your grandmother or your child to see the pictures, it’s best not to post them.
A LADY NEVER BRAGS
Margaret Thatcher once said on this:
Power is like being a lady … if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.
Even if a lady just spent a fortune on a new outfit or purse, she doesn’t discuss what she paid. She doesn’t name drop or brag about fancy vacations that she knows others won’t be taking. And a lady doesn’t brag about a powerful job position she might have.
A LADY DOESN’T GET DRUNK
Doing rounds of shots at the bar and then acting sloppy drunk to the point of not remembering what happened last night is not being ladylike. Ladies can drink, but they know how to pace themselves to avoid making a scene. Ladies know when they’ve had too much and take that opportunity to excuse themselves.
A LADY DOESN’T CHEW GUM IN PUBLIC
If a lady does chew gum, she does so discreetly. Showing up at a business meeting or a black tie event with gum in her mouth is not something a lady would do.
A LADY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION
When a lady is being ladylike when out to dinner, she puts her phone away and pays attention to the person she’s with. She also knows how to discuss matters besides herself.
A LADY WANTS THE OPTION OF A GREAT MAN
Ladies don’t need a man in their lives, but if they want the option of having one, that’s great, too. In the words of the “Mayflower Madam” Sydney Biddle Barrows:
The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentlemen.
Some qualities ladies look for in a good man are the following:
- A good man lets you know that he loves you. He tells you and shows you by wanting to do things for you and by letting you know how much he wants you.
- A good man will support your goals in life. If you want to go back to school to get your degree, he’ll encourage you and help you work out a plan to do that. Or if you want to quit your job to raise your children, he’ll help make that happen.
- A good man feels as if he’s your partner and helps you be the best person you can be. This goes even farther than supporting you. He encourages you to pursue your passion.
- A good man doesn’t lie to you. He wants you to trust him and to be confident in the relationship, not have intimacy issues.
- A good man will make you feel as if you are the most important person in the room whenever you go out together.
- A good man opens up to you and tells you his feelings.
- A good man makes you feel beautiful by the way he looks at you and by the way he touches you.
In fact, he’ll display many of the traits that a lady possesses if he’s a gentleman.
And let’s not forget the famous words of Steve Harvey:
If a man loves you … he’s willing to profess it. He’ll give you a title after a while. You’re going to be his lady, his woman, his fiancée, his wife, his baby’s mama, something.
Learning how to be a lady means different things to different people. And if being a lady is important to you, you can choose the ladylike traits you wish to emulate. Being a lady, however, does not mean submitting to a man’s desires … unless, of course, that’s what you want to do