August 22, 2012

On Being A Lady

By Marc Esadrian

Photo by Marc Esadrian

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.

 

Poise

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

 

Posture

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.

 

Speech

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

 

Respect Men

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

 

Dressing Beautifully

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.

 

Cultivate Modesty

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

 

Be Lovely

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.


August 7, 2011

The Vitruvian Woman

By Marc Esadrian

basic-female-submission-virtuesMarcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–15 BC) was an artilleryman, writer, architect, and engineer in the age of Roman antiquity. Celebrated as one of Rome’s first published engineers, Virtruvius described how he saw architecture, ideally, as an imitation of things found in nature. Through all his writings, he is most famous for his three laws of architecture in his book, De Architectura, which asserts that a structure must possess three important qualities: firmitas, utilitas, and venustus. In other words, a building must be solid, useful, and beautiful to be of the utmost worth and utility.

It’s no surprise such philosophy is still followed by architects today, though not necessarily all. Certainly, there are exceptions that transgress Marcus Vitruvius’s laws, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Residence in Pennsylvania. Built partly over a natural waterfall, the home, while aesthetically pleasing, has suffered deep structural flaws since its inception. The visual idea was understandably neat, but the practicality of its deflected concrete projections quickly became a concern during its first stages of construction. Building a concrete structure directly over the water presented a humidity problem as well, particularly in regard to the roofing material, which collected condensation from the mists of falling water below.

The John Hancock Tower in Boston, a sixty-story marvel built by I. M. Pei, might serve as another example of structure sacrificed for the ideal of beauty, and thus, in conflict with Vitruvius’s tenets. It is, perhaps, well known how contemporary architecture idealizes narrow, glass-like structures, but the zealous implementation of such an ideal in this tower became deadly. Its bowed walls, nauseating sway and falling glass panes cost Pei’s firm 175 million dollars to fix and years of delay in completing the building.

There are many prevailing examples of sound architectural structures, of course, some of them ancient. The Pantheon in Rome, intended as a temple of all gods, continues to be used today in a state of perfect preservation for worship. The Kukulcán Mayan temple, El Castillo on the site of Chichén Itzá, with its 365 steps, still stands today as an exemplar of Mayan ingenuity, design, and comprehension of time. The Château de Versailles, Louis XIV’s masterpiece (also known as Palace of Versailles), was an opulent home for French nobility during the seventeenth century. Visitors can now tour its many intrigues, such as the Hall of Mirrors and its many beautifully manicured courtyards and gardens. Built from 1506 to 1626, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the largest church in the world. This gargantuan building’s celebrated dome was designed and built by Michelangelo himself.

She must have the heart of a willing slave—the spirit of a woman who truly yields her mind, body and spirit to the strength and guidance of the man who leads her. Only then can she be said to possess firmitas.

Modern marvels abound, too. The structural and decorative latticework of steel beams making up Herzog & de Meuron’s Beijing’s National Stadium, otherwise known as “the nest,” is a visual and structural wonder to behold. The elegance and beauty of Durrat Al Bahrain’s urban designs in the blue waters of the Bahraini seas makes it the most unique and striking island city in the world. The Shard in London towers above the surrounding historic architecture as an elegant and striking vision of the future, offering 40-mile views of the skyline at its dagger peak.

There are, of course, many more structures the modern world has to offer—far too many to mention—that heed the three basic principles Vitruvius put forth centuries ago. They are a testament to the wisdom of forming things with sound planning, purpose, and form.

When considering the laws of architecture and the natural appeal organic curves have to the human aesthetic, we can easily see why the beauty of women has inspired more than one visionary (Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, for example), but what of the woman, the source of that inspiration, herself? Can a parallel be found with Vitruvius’s standards in measuring her quality and worth—particularly in her submission—as it relates to the strength of her disposition, the validity of her service, and her outward aesthetic qualities? Let us consider the three standards, to find philosophic parallels with Vitruvius’s laws of architecture within the submissive woman herself.

Photo by Marc Esadrian

Firmitas
First, a woman must be of sound mind and body before undertaking the demanding role of submission to the man in her life. In this regard, a skeleton of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is worth review. For the most basic physiological functions, she must have food, water, sleep and shelter. Above this, she must have safety and good health. Further still, a sense of purpose and belonging, and enough confidence to see her usefulness in order to offer it. Finally and most importantly, comes the notion of self-actualization in her submission, the process of knowing it is the right path for her to make peace with herself. This tip of the pyramid, so to speak, is the most crucial in her service to him and where most of the qualities of firmitas will be found, as it speaks to her disposition and understanding of submission. Is she unshakable in her desire to serve? Does she embrace the path of submission to the man she loves, free of unexamined doubt or desire? Does she find a deep fulfillment in serving, or is it merely a means to another end? Will her foundation stand the test of ongoing service to her Master? Is she capable of reliably plying her feminine ego toward finding sole approval and validation in the pleasure of her master?

For her servitude to be strong and dependable, it must be felt and offered with sincere conviction, motivated not only by the external (the master), but the internal (a drive to serve and please that reaches to her innermost core). She must have the heart of a willing slave—the spirit of a woman who truly yields her mind, body and spirit to the strength and guidance of the man who leads her. Only then can she be said to possess firmitas.

Photo by Marc Esadrian

Utilitas
What worth does submission have if it does not provide function and commodity to enrich and improve the life of the one served? What real service lies only in a sensual veneer? The humbled female does not complacently offer her sexual charms with the notion these alone will suffice; she prostrates physically—and metaphysically—before her man, relinquishing her flesh and attuning her mind for his ultimate use and possession, and she does so with consuming desire. She knows submission isn’t merely erecting delicate staging with a pretty facade for surface pleasures. Just as it would be inadequate to build a structure with no discernible purpose, so too is a woman’s servitude meaningless if it stands as little more than sensual affectation.

Giving of her body for pleasure and breeding, tending to daily responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning the household and earning income (if allowed), when given unconditionally for the sole use and advantage of her Master, are the marks of a real and tangible benefit to submission.

Photo by Fotoro

Venustus
The beauty of the feminine has been celebrated, honed and sought after since time out of mind, and the reason is obvious: female beauty is, naturally, a great source of pleasure to males. From a purely biological perspective, the woman’s body is a testament to the harmony of functionality and form: her body is designed to attract and entice, thus fulfilling her reproductive purpose. The mating imperative alone naturally entices women to embrace their visual appeal in order to attract mates. While humans make use of physical attractiveness (and sexuality in general) for a host of other purposes in society, sex appeal’s primary purpose is plain enough to see. Since giving pleasure is a great part of submission, it only makes sense for women to pay attention to their bodies, to care for them and shape them to be pleasing to the eyes of those they would serve.

That aside, the question in regards to servitude still remains: is beauty really all that important? Regardless of aesthetics, a woman is, of course, still a good servant if her conviction and loyalty is strong and her service remains fruitful. These first two principles, strength and utility, are easy to see as valuable. Beauty, however, may be considered to be of lesser importance, but just as architecture does not stop with the foundation and plumbing, so too should the woman value her outer appearance.  Her aesthetic lends elegance and pleasure to the former qualities, and thus enhances her service. A woman who abandons care of her body abandons the delight her natural beauty brings; it behooves her to guard and maintain it, so as to enrich her service, overall.

We have looked at three qualities in a woman that allow her submission to stand the test of time and trial in service. First, she must be strong. This isn’t merely a matter of physical health, but of resolve, accountability and actualization in the fulfillment submission brings to her. Second, she must bring advantage and commodity in her service; there is no value in a facade of submission—an ephemeral gift that only serves the giver. If her service adds to the pleasure and gain of the one she serves, it is more than sensual affectation. Third, she must compliment these good traits with her physical aesthetic so as to make herself pleasing to the eye.

Considering how easily Vitruvius’s laws can be paralleled to three of the most vital components in a woman’s service, it would seem his standards make a generally good and easy to remember philosophic guide by which to judge not only physical structures, but the intangible qualities of ideal servitude. While there is much more to discuss in terms of the depth of quality submission, strength of conviction, usefulness of service and beauty of form certainly cover the most vital parts.

Note about the art: the Vitruvian Man, from which this art is derived, correlates ideal human proportions, not only with geometry, but with the workings of the Universe itself. It represents Vitruvius’s “Canon of Proportions,” and was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1487.