Classy, feminine, and stylish ladies. Remember them? Vestiges of these women often speak to us from old vintage posters, photographs, movies, and paintings, reminding us of a once lovely classic femininity. Granted, class itself isn’t dead today, but if you think about it for even a moment, you’ll no doubt admit the feminine spirit of class has changed since the days of Audrey Hepburn and other well known icons of the past. It so often seems the energetic desire to please and pursue light-footed elegance has been supplanted by a slightly belligerent, if not stoic narcissism. Some might not find that particularly wrong, but I sometimes wonder what was so wrong with that traditional spirit once so celebrated.
Perhaps the classic aesthetic and the politics surrounding it represent a concept of restriction for women—but I have to ask if the near-palpable arrogance of the billboard femme fatale celebrated today is a freedom that’s wise to aspire toward for a woman hoping to truly please a man. Beauty is, without question, celebrated in our age, but it seems conventions of good manners and virtue are all but forgotten among so many today, and not just young women. It’s true that the norms have changed over the generations and this does cause confusion. Meanings of things sometimes do change, but that change doesn’t always mean we need to embrace it. Today, a woman can be thought of as “classy,” so long as she fulfills certain criteria. In this article, however, I am going to focus upon how a young woman can be a lady. I know … “lady” sounds so old to many of us, but it really shouldn’t, when we consider what the term really means. It may be an old-fashioned form of reference, but the idea behind what a lady is certainly hasn’t lost its appeal or meaning to young women. When I use the term, I mean a courteous, decorous, or genteel woman. She is polite. She is refined. She is elegant. She has high standards of graceful and pleasing behavior. Is that so bad? Probably not. Chances are that if you’re here reading these articles and that if you’re female, you’re already a lady or open to being a better one.
Whether it’s all review or something new to consider, we have put together a small list of the most essential things that make a lady. We hope you find this entry informative and fun. I’d also invite you to comment on this article and contribute your thoughts.
Generosity and Kindness
First and foremost, a lady gives of herself and treats others with thoughtfulness, magnanimity, and courtesy. She is a positive force, touching others with her beauty and kind attitude. The light that radiates within her becomes infectious to those around her. This isn’t a false light, however. The kindness she nurtures cannot be pretended or cleverly simulated with pretty affectation. She is light-spirited because her spirit is light. In this, sincerity is crucial. A lady understands wealth and status is fleeting; she knows these things do not define her. The essentially good and virtuous nature of her innermost character, however, is what she takes care to hone, value, and nurture.
Good Manners and Attention to Etiquette
Being a lady doesn’t mean you have to know every possible rule in the book, but it does mean you’ve developed a good understanding of how to be polite, respectful, tactful, and attuned to the feelings of others around you. You have given thought to how to best go about your way through the world without being abrasive and crude. Within you lies an intuitive simplicity that is aware of its surroundings and guides you through times of stress or challenge with dignity and fairness, never of a boastful, demanding, or envious heart that blinds you to what is good and virtuous in thought or action. Always be thankful for generosity directed your way and be a gracious host or guest. Take special care to avoid flare-ups of anger, bitterness, sarcasm, and extreme jealousy. Be thoughtful of others through the feminine empathy you are naturally blessed with. It’s really all the little human things about manners combined that make a lady exemplary.
“There are two ways of spreading light. To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.”
– Edith Wharton.
Being graceful and elegant is fundamental to a woman’s beauty. How you compose your gestures and your movements to beguile and please is a higher form of beauty that escapes the otherwise physically beautiful woman who lacks charm, but graces another woman with only half the visual appeal. Indeed, women who have mastered the art of good poise have an edge over the visually stunning but otherwise ignorant competition, and this is often verified from others who will say, “she’s not the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen, but there’s something about her.” By being graceful and elegant in your person, by showing a certain dignity and class in how you go about things and by honing these qualities collectively, the art of poise is captured and implemented.
“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”
– Sophia Loren
This is the age of little plastic windows, as we are all well aware. They beck to us with chimes, beeps, and the hypnotic glow of flashy images. It seems so many of us are busy communicating on smart phones, readers, laptops, and personal computers—that is, when we’re not watching movies or cable television. With all this concerted staring, necks are getting pulled forward and the spinal “hump” caused from this is gradually setting in. Take a moment to straighten yourself out and carry yourself with good posture. Whatever you need to do—envision a string holding your head up, or a bar running vertically down your spine and up to the back of your head—do it. Having good posture will lend to a more elegant appearance. Never slouch! You’ll look more alert, more confident, and even slimmer if you pay attention to good posture. Your back will thank you, too.
People do judge us by the words we use, and for the lady, it’s no different. Taking the time and effort to communicate graciously and politely with others and avoiding the ugliness of constant swearing is the mark of a woman with class and self-respect. That doesn’t mean the dreaded F-word can’t pop out now and then, but she chooses moments to express such vulgar phrases with care. Note that a lady knows when saying nothing is quite appropriate, too.
Gossip, Gossip, Gossip
Women do have a tendency to love gossip. Getting the dirty laundry on others or simply talking about them behind their backs is tremendously tempting, and let’s face it, every human being is guilty of doing it to some degree. As a lady, however, you should avoid feeding this particular animal. Why? Because when it grows big enough, it will turn on you, too. Don’t for a minute think that the chatty company you keep won’t be talking about you behind your back the instant you’re not around. Note the biggest gossipers in your social circle: are they the types of friends you really want to be associating with? Is that the sort of person you want to become? Something to consider, perhaps.
“If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends, you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue.”
– Alice Duer Miller
We have gone to some length on Humbled Females and in its official primer in describing how contemporary culture tends to lean toward an air of marketable misandry and simultaneous glorification of the female. The forces that be in culture are highly influential to our social attitudes and surrounding peer groups. Among female peers groups, there is a tendency to view males with condescension, suspicion, and ridicule. Pay attention to these things and make a conscious effort to not join in. Don’t talk disparagingly about your husband or boyfriend to your friends. And certainly don’t ridicule his sexual performance or worth as a man, overall, and politely excuse yourself or change the subject if others do so about the men in their lives. Be courteous and polite to men. Be aware of the subtle ways males are devalued in your social interactions and in larger society, overall. Fight against it in your own gentle way.
“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”
– Marilyn Monroe
Modern society has arrived upon some disparate views about beauty. We certainly preach a lot about how decadent and meaningless materiality and “surface image” is, yet it’s obvious we value it tremendously, too. Dressing beautifully doesn’t mean you have to be a fashion snob or walk around looking like Scarlett O’Hara. It simply means you have style, love your femininity, and that you love being a woman, in general. Much of that can be expressed in the colorful gamut available in feminine raiment, so why not embrace being colorful and undeniably feminine in how you present yourself to the world? Find colors that work best with your complexion and eyes. Wear clean, coordinated, and eye-catching clothing that matches your personal style. Your clothes should fit your body and compliment your form, neither undersized nor fitting too loosely. Dress to please, but don’t show too much…a little mystery is far classier.
Modesty is a tricky thing to grasp in a world so ubiquitously plugged in, nurturing every self-centered impulse humanity could possibly have. Commercial media bombards us with assertions we deserve to have the best—that we’ll attain status, recognition, glamor, or fame if we embrace our egotism and find elevation à la consumption. Sycophantic marketing forces tickle our Ids and Egos into a state of trendy obedience. The Internet’s social circles turn us into braggers, constantly gushing about our wonderful lives. Amidst the cacophony of all this stroking, it can be a little challenging to remain humble and modest, to say the least, but doing so will make you far more pleasant to be around. It will give you a better sense of the world as it is, not as it looks through rocking, rose-colored glasses. Most importantly, it will lend you greater awareness of how you come across to others and keep your mind from slipping into the “all about me” show.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Audrey Hepburn
Every lady has a certain je ne sais quois to her aura and personality that is difficult to describe concisely, but if we were to attempt describing it in words, we might say that she is authentic, gracious, positive, giving, and thoughtful. She pays attention to the small things. She is kind and considerate in action, appreciative of others, and infectious with her smile. She is respectful and disciplined. She is beautiful. She is dependable and trustworthy. She knows how to truly love others. She is in deep touch with her humanity. She freely embraces her femininity and exudes an undeniable pleasantness, lightheartedness, and allure about her.