Throughout my whole life, I have been told that I have to act like a ‘lady’. I have to be ‘ladylike’. I can’t take part in activities that are predominantly associated with men. I can’t be ‘bossy’. I have to be something I’m not. I’m told these things by men and I’m told these things by women, who should understand how hard it is to hide my true self in order to impress everyone else. My friends tell me these things. My parents tell me these things. Strangers I don’t even know comment these things. And I’m sick of it. All I want is to be me and to be loved for being true to myself.
This whole idea of not being ‘ladylike’ is associated with the historic fact that women should be quiet, submissive and docile. In the 1950’s (which were less than 70 years ago), women weren’t allowed to question or challenge their husband’s authority, wives were told to wear pink underwear and if their husband cheated on them they were expected to be forgiving! And as long as women never questioned their husbands, wore what they were told to and were unconditionally forgiving they were considered ‘ladylike’. Another sexist idea that was prominent in the 1950’s were finishing schools. Finishing schools were created to teach girls etiquette and how to be ‘ladylike’ in order to attract a husband. It is so sad that women were found unattractive if they were too confident. Even more sadly, these ideas are still very much engrained in society, hence the reason why I’m still being told how to sit, how to dress and what to do based on the gender I identify with.
There is nothing wrong with being a lady or ‘ladylike’, but what is painful is that fact that we’re only told to be ladylike when we (the women) are not being elegant, quiet or obedient and the traits associated with being ‘ladylike’ seem to only be specific to females.
The ideologies associated with being ‘ladylike’ can be extremely harming to young people (not just girls!) who are trying to figure out their gender identity. This is because these ideologies tell you that certain characteristics are specific to one gender and other characteristics to another, which can cause lots of confusion especially to questioning or trans* youth as their gender identity can be made to seem invalid based on how they dress or act.
Please never let anyone tell you how to act, dress or what to do. You are valid and you are beautiful no matter how you identify or express yourself!
‘Don’t be afraid of being different, Be afraid of being the same as everyone else’