The Lady’s Perspective
Have you ever received a compliment that didn’t sound like one or one that caused you to swell with pride so much you thought you would explode and yet you acted unaffected? All humans love positive affirmation even those of us who pretend otherwise, or those who do not always accept it graciously.
I have noticed that most people react awkwardly when faced with a compliment – often mumbling a thank you, changing the topic or acting rather flustered. I wonder if it is a false sense of modesty that gets us acting or feeling this way. Perhaps it is the belief that to just accept a compliment without any question (or drama) would suggest that we are accepting it as pure fact. This would in turn suggest possible pride which – heaven help us – might be a sin!
In my own experience, I have been blessed to be considered attractive by many people and be compared to many beautiful ladies. I therefore have had ample opportunity to respond to compliments about my physical appearance. These however are the ones that used to make me the most uncomfortable – especially when I was much younger. See, growing up, I was taught to believe that receiving a compliment about my physical person meant that I had in some way attracted attention to myself – which was sinful. Thankfully I have come a long way from that self deprecating way of thinking.…
Middle school ushers in the identity crisis years. As soon as our kids turn the corner and move from “tween” to “teen”, they start to feel rather important – understandably so. Physically, they start to look like adults and the schools acknowledge their growth by giving them a new identity – “middle-schoolers”. This ensures they are not going to be classed in the embarrassing category of “kids” anymore.
In their quest to be independent, yet still find a way to fit in and be accepted by their peers, our teens struggle with their “new skin”. They therefore look to the Joneses – in the media, neighborhood, school, anywhere – and every day they might have new “role models” to keep up with. My own experience has not been very different. My daughter took this new found identity quite seriously and from time to time we certainly had our tug-of-war. She began to question chores and clothes and rules and anything or anyone she could. Gone were the days when she put herself in time out, thinking she had crossed the line. Now, in her mind, there were no lines to cross – she was an “adult” of course.
Fashion has been a big part of our scene because of my work as a designer and therefore, it became my daughter’s normalcy. She loved to dress up and be stylish. I considered myself fortunate to have a little girl who loved hats and bags and shoes even when other kids her age couldn’t be bothered with these.…
It was actually my mother who reminded my daughter about the Oscars on Sunday and she in turn reminded me that I love keeping up with the fashion. This is true and since we missed the “pre-show” we watched bits of the awards ceremony itself. Judging from the stats, millions of other viewers had the same idea or, they were actually looking to be entertained by some of the greatest entertainers in Hollywood. And entertained we certainly were though not all of it pleasantly! For all the planning and effort, not to mention money expended, the Oscar crew must be quite frustrated that the next day the big news is Angelina Jolie’s repeated leg flashing and J Lo’s wardrobe malfunction!
Yes many in Hollywood dressed elegantly and beautifully for the occasion and then there were those who wanted to make an impression even if were an unflattering one – to say the least! Jennifer Lopez is an extremely physically beautiful woman who would look good in sack cloth. It is unfortunate that she chose a dress that had people holding their breath on her behalf, waiting for the malfunction moment. Mind you, Cameron Diaz’s dress though not transparent or trying to slip off, did lack a good lining or built in undergarments which would have left some parts of her anatomy undisclosed. Angelina Jolie chose to make herself the laughing stock both at the awards itself and also in the news this week.…
Anyone that knows me knows that I am not big on labels or titles. I often cut out the labels in my clothes because they irritate my skin. I do not insist on my daughter’s friends referring to me as “Ms. Pereira” and do not consider it a sign of disrespect if my nephews or nieces call me Marisa because they hear others refer to me by that name. Respect after all, is not really affiliated with a name or a title.
This lack of respect for a title allows me the freedom to treat EVERYONE with respect and courtesy whether they are “president” or “pauper.” So rest assured that “Her Ladyship” does not refer to me! I do believe, however, that “ladyship” is a “goal” we can aspire toward – we are all, after all, works in progress.
My hope is that this forum will aid us in our journey as we evaluate, discuss and debate the everyday cultural and spiritual influences on our dress, decorum and dialogue. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions on topics that help us stretch and grow toward being all that we can be. I hope that we get the perspective of some shining “knights” as well – or those who aspire to “knighthood”!…
Recently I was addressing students at Georgia Tech University – speaking on the topic of Confidence. In the Q & A session afterwards, one diligent student who was taking copious notes asked if I could define “Lady” and differentiate from a “Woman”. It dawned on me then, that this generation is quite oblivious to the difference. Their blissful “ignorance” possibly stems from the fact that the word “lady” isn’t used much in our society today and I wondered why.
I am British by nationality but grew up in the Middle East and also in India. However, I have spent my adult life in the US. That being said, I will attest that I cringe inwardly when people refer to me as a “woman” as opposed to a “lady”. Mind you, I know they mean no harm – it’s just that I was raised to realize that there is a definite difference and that training still resonates. I understand that the use of the term “woman” is not negative in any way – or is it? The online Oxford dictionary actually says this about the word “lady”:
Chiefly North American used as an informal, often brusque, form of address to a woman: I’m sorry; lady, but you have the wrong number.
It would seem then that “lady” might actually have a pejorative connotation in our culture!? I decided to delve a bit deeper into the debate – “Woman Vs Lady” because I believe that young lady at GT and others like her would be receptive to the idea of being defined as a “lady” as opposed to a “woman”, if a compelling argument were presented.…