Thursday, July 3, 2008

Becoming a lady: how?

Q: Do you know how I can act to be more feminine and gentle? I know its a broad subject, but has there been anything you've learnt to change in the ways you relate to others? I don't want to repress my personality and be fragile and bland at all, but do want to be sweet and delicate.

I must tell you there have been periods in my life when I felt completely un-feminine. As a child I loved to climb trees and get my knees bruised playing outside, and there's no way you could make me wear a skirt! I act more feminine now, but I assure you, it has nothing to do with being weak or bland.

There is no magical recipe for gentleness and femininity, and I'm certainly far from being an authority figure. But I have discovered that our state of mind is greatly impacted by our surroundings, what we wear, and how we behave. Often, people who are depressed are advised to keep a happy expression on their face, even if it's fake. After some time, they really start feeling happier.

The same is true for being feminine. The more you act femininely, even if at first it doesn't feel natural, the more it becomes a part of you. After all we are women, and even if we weren't taught to behave in a gentle and feminine way, it is somewhere deep inside us - we just need to let it out.

Dress in long, flowing, feminine garments made of delicate fabrics in soft colors. Long dresses and skirts make you feel wonderfully feminine and if you didn't use to wear a lot of skirts, after a few days you will notice how comfortable it gets. You might need to adjust your skirts before you sit down. Make sure you take care of basic grooming, such as combed hair and clean fingernails. It might sound trivial, but the truth is that too many girls neglect their appearance these days.

Surround yourself with prettiness - flowers, pictures, soothing music. Put a pretty tablecloth on the table, with a lovely centerpiece. If you do any kind of needlework, take it out and do it while listening to classical music. Or do something equally soothing and gentle, like making cards or writing a beautiful letter. I know it probably sounds very simplistic, but it does make you feel feminine and with time it becomes second nature.

Watch your step and posture, and walk gracefully. Don't walk too quickly if there is no need of it. Also, watch your voice - is it soft and gentle? Is it unnecessarily loud? Are you being tactful, speaking your opinion when there is real need of it - or are you doing everything possible simply to make yourself heard? I don't equal voiceless with feminine, but I believe pushiness isn't a feminine feature.

Be generous with your smiles, your helpfulness, and your cheerfulness towards those who surround you. Show hospitality and good manners. If a neighbour is walking by and it's a hot day, offer them a glass of lemonade after saying hello, or at least some cold water. Many repairmen and plumbers who visited us over time were pleasantly surprised when we offered them something refreshing to drink after they worked hard for hours.

Most importantly, cultivate a kind, gentle and loving spirit, which is the truest essence of a real lady. It will shine through in your words and your actions, and you will be unmistakeably seen for who you are.

28 comments:

Terry said...

My suggestion: pray and ask the Lord to help you cultivate the uniquely feminine qualities He has placed in you.

I agree with you, Anna, about being careful not to be unnecessarily loud, and also about having good posture. I think however, that we have been created wonderfully diverse and what's natural for one woman may seem awkward and forced for another, hence the need for prayer.

For eample, I have a daughter who is a natural athlete, which may seem unfeminine. She adores different types of bracelets, necklaces and earrings even though she wears sneakers a lot- even with skirts sometimes. That's how she expresses her femininity(we do a lot of color coordinating with that one!) She also has a smile that lights up a room!

I agree with much of your response. I just wanted to add that she should keep in mind the rich diversity within us and that there is no "one size fits all" approach to being feminine.

TheRetroHousewife said...

The #1 thing that makes me feel like a lady may sound silly but it is this-cross your legs at your ankle not at your knee. It looks so classy and rare women do it these days. Does that sound silly?

Also , I believe maintaining your composure as much as possible is the sign of a class act. Look at Jackie Kennedy.

deb said...

I am about to 'you go girl' rant, so forgive me. LOL

True femininity is not weak. My great grandmother was a midwife, occasionally helped her farming husband in the field, managed to care for all her many kids, was a herbalists and, for a short time, worked in a mill.(all done in a skirt, I might add) She was tough but she was feminine. I have a pillow case that she embroidered for her family despite the fact that she must have been overwhelmingly busy.

Sadly, today many see the only way to be strong is to act like a man. And they assume that being feminine means acting weak and whiny. That isn't true! Being feminine is the ultimate act of enpowerment!!

Okay, end of rant. LOL

Sammybunny said...

Amen to all you ladies and your suggestions! I especially like the comment about crossing your legs at the ankles instead of the knees! Not only is it better for your veins and knee health, but it is MUCH more lady like! You go girl (theretrohousewife).

Nea said...

I just found your blog, and and liked your way to write.

I've noticed, too, that wearing feminine clothes really does make me feel more feminine

(I'm from Finland, and my blog is only in Finnish.)

Anonymous said...

What a good question....& what a thoughtful answer! I think one of the best ways to learn femininity is to observe other women who are not afraid of theirs. You can learn a LOT by simply watching others who do things well. And you are right, Anna, when you say that affecting some feminine mannerisms will, in time, become more natural...will not seem affected at all, but like second nature! When I think of the women I admire, they are all different, to be sure, but they are all what I would call feminine, nonetheless. It is a good thing to see, & makes me proud & happy to be a woman. Good luck to the gal who asked the question. I hope she knows that she will have lots of support in her efforts from many of the readers of this blog. I believe it will be an exciting journey for her!

sincerely,
Brenda

Cherish the Home said...

An excellent post Anna and I enjoyed reading the comments as well.

I especially liked:

"Also, watch your voice - is it soft and gentle? Is it unnecessarily loud? Are you being tactful, speaking your opinion when there is real need of it - or are you doing everything possible simply to make yourself heard? I don't equal voiceless with feminine, but I believe pushiness isn't a feminine feature."

Oftentimes if we aren't spewing forth our opinions constantly, when we do have something to say it will have much more of an impact and be taken more seriously.

Great thoughts. (o:

PS-I agree with the other ladies, crossing your legs at the ankle is much more classy (and modest) than crossing your legs at the knee. If you take any kind of an etiquette or charm-type course that is what they teach. (o:

Miss Amy Smarty said...

Wearing makeup everyday is a GREAT way to be feminine! I know I'm from the Southern USA, and we wear makeup more down here. (I'm generalizing, I know). But when I've visited the North, I noticed lots of shorter, almost manly haircuts, and no makeup. It really makes a difference in how people feel!

Bethany Hudson said...

"After all we are women, and even if we weren't taught to behave in a gentle and feminine way, it is somewhere deep inside us - we just need to let it out."

Amen, Anna!

Normally, I'm an inside-out sorta girl, meaning I would rather cultivate the attitude prior to adding on the behavior, for fear of the behavior becoming habit and no change in attitude occurring. But for the quote above, which you stated very well, I do think that sometimes working from the inside-out is sufficient in bringing about what's already there, deep inside.

~Bethany

Mia said...

Anna,
As always, your answer was so eloquent and inspiring. I also feel all the previous comments are very interesting, particularly Terry's. My daughter is on a swim team, and is therefore quite athletic. However, she also is wonderfully feminine. She always wants to wear a dress or long skirt, and loves to do needlework in her spare time. As Terry stated, there are so many creative ways to express our femininity!
Blessings,
Mia

Jia said...

Thanks for posting this Anna. I'm curious, do you make your own skirts? I'd like to wear more, but it's hard to find cute (modest) ones in my size for a decent price.

Sarah R said...

This might seem silly, but I changed my shoes. I used to love big clunky shoes, but I changed to more delicate shoes. It made me walk differently and seem more aware of how I carried myself.
I have to agree with Anna on our voices. Is there nothing more vulgar than a loud mouthed cursing, swearing, shrill woman? I try to keep my voice low, even tempered, with a smile in it. That way when I do need to raise my voice (like one of my children are in danger, or I'm trying to convey something very important) my sentiment is taken more seriously.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this post, and thanks to the advice from the commenters. This is an area in which I struggle greatly.

When I was young I was a very traditionally feminine person. Being ladylike came naturally to me. Though I grew up at the time was when it started to become more common for women to work than to stay at home, I wanted none of that: my only ambition was to be a great wife and mother. However, despite much prayer, going to the singles group in my church and even trying dating services I have never married. All the men I met either weren't devoted Christians (as I am and I would never marry anyone who didn't share my faith) or treated me poorly. I am now 40 and statistically have very little chance of marrying at this point. I also have no father or brothers, so I have had to essentially be "the man" of my home - doing all the heavy lifting, working full time instead of being home, taking in the car for repairs and then trying my best to be firm when the mechanic invariably finds all kinds of problems with the car that wouldn't be found if I had a wedding ring on my finger, etc.

After all these years of having to fend for myself I have seen myself become more and more masculine in my temperament and behavior. I don't like what I see and want to be more ladylike again. It's hard to develop new habits (or in my case return to old habits) but I need to keep trying and not give up.

Thanks for your lovely blog. It inspires me to keep trying to be the lady God intended me to be, despite my circumstances.

Susan

Kate said...

Excellent observations, dear Anna. These are some of the very issues I'm currently studying and blogging about.

Kate.

Emma said...

Thanks for posting my question, Anna! And thank you everyone for the suggestions left in the comments! :)

I love that real femininity isn't being voiceless and having no opinion, as can be portrayed especially in the media.

It can be hard to break out of the stereotype of "tomboy" when you've always been known as one. That's what I've been thinking about lately, as I've watched some wonderfully feminine ladies around me and wondered "How do I soften my approach like they do?" I don't plan on changing my personality to one that isn't me, but I do want to grow and be more gentle especially in the way I speak. Besides, people actually listen to you when you speak if you're not constantly talking just to make yourself heard as Anna said. I know I'm guilty of that and its the first thing I'm going to work on!

Thank you very much for all your suggestions :)

Relle said...

What an excellent post!! I had been wondering the same thing for a while, and this really helped me. You are completely right when you say that dressing like a lady will make you feel/act like one. I notice this on Sundays when I go to our Latin Mass. I have to wear a long pretty skirt, a nice sweater or blouse, and heals, and I automatically see how much more feminine I act!I will most certainly try some of your other suggestions, like playing music, putting fresh flowers in the house, and talking softer... Thank you again!

Relle said...

What an excellent post!! I had been wondering the same thing for a while, and this really helped me. You are completely right when you say that dressing like a lady will make you feel/act like one. I notice this on Sundays when I go to our Latin Mass. I have to wear a long pretty skirt, a nice sweater or blouse, and heals, and I automatically see how much more feminine I act!I will most certainly try some of your other suggestions, like playing music, putting fresh flowers in the house, and talking softer... Thank you again!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

You offer some very good suggestions, Anna. I found once I began to dress in a more feminine manner, much of the attitude seemed to flow from this change in wardrobe. It's awful difficult to sit in an unfeminine way or act too brash or pushy when one is in a pretty outfit. :o)

Deb's comment is really great. Just as there is a difference between being feminine and being weak, so too is there a difference between being a "strong woman" or being a "woman of strength"

Thursday's Child said...

Terrific post! I especially like the part about needlework. ;)

Buffy said...

Susan - Women get married at all ages, I got married last year (for the first time) at the age of 39. Please never confuse real life with statistics, because we all have different life stories.

Anna - I really have nothing to add to your summary of being more feminine which was very thorough. Whilst I support young girls climbing trees and having just as much fun as boys, I do cringe when I look at teenage girls these days. When did we decide that young girls behaving like uncouth young men was attractive??

Kathi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
earthly jane said...

This was a great post!
I, myself have been wearing skirts and dresses more often these days and to tell the truth, it makes me feel more lady-like.
Dh loves it and I feel that I do get that much more respect at work!
thanks!

MarkyMark said...

FWIW,

Men have a problem in this area too. Thanks to the societal upheavals of the past few decades, it seems that both men & women don't know who they are anymore, nor do they know how to behave. Here's something I did, and I think it'll help the ladies here too.

One I did in the absence of good male role models was watch old movies. Specifically, what I have in mind is anything that's black & white; as for color movies, anything before 1960 or so would be a good bet too. Basically, if the movie has the CLASSIC stars in it (e.g. William Holden, Grace Kelly, etc.), that's one that should be watched. I found that the old movies feature good role models for both men & women. Men were gentlemen, and women were ladies in these films. Old films are a either a good, first step, or they can be used as an interim measure.

If you ever want to see how much society has changed for the worse, watch a movie from 1950, then watch something new. The difference will both astound and sadden you. When I see how husbands & wives were portrayed in years past, I just want to CRY when I see what we've lost; I really, truly do! When I watch one of my favorite all time films, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri", I get tears in my eyes when I see how Harry & Sally Brubaker (William Holden & Grace Kelly's characters respectively), I get tears in my eyes every time I see that movie. I have it on DVD, and I've watched on numerous occasions; no matter how many times I see that film, I still get choked up when I see it.

For me, one of the most poignant scenes in that film (indeed, all of cinema as far as I'm concerned) occurs when Harry returns late after getting the helo rescuers out of jail. Just to see how the couple relate to one another alone makes that film worth watching. That's the scene where Sally begs Harry in tears to tell her about the bridges he has to attack. I have to stop now, or I'm going to get teary eyed. Those who've seen the film will no doubt know what I'm talking about. Anyway, not only are these old films instructive for men & women individually; they're good to watch for seeing how husbands & wives loved one another not so long ago, and how they treated one another accordingly...

This isn't the only thing we should do; having a good, solid role model with whom we can work in person is still best, of course. My former pastor was a good role model for me; I'd work with him closely, observe him, and watch him. What Anna says about having someone MENTOR you is so true.

There's a book, entitled "Fascinating Womanhood", by Helen Andlein. It's about how to act like a lady. It was printed in 1963; given the time period and its content, it would NEVER be printed today-never! And that's precisely why the ladies on here ought to get the book. I understand that this is a good book that would be helpful to the women who wish to become ladies, or for those ladies who wish to achieve a higher level of excellence.

I'm going to close this out. I hope that this helps. Getting a mentor is number one; nothing beats one on one instruction. Secondly, the book, "Fascinating Womanhood", should be on everyone's list here. Finally, as an INTERIM OR FIRST STEP, viewing old movies is good, as they model the old fashioned, traditional mores, manners, etc.; they provide a good example for men & women to act. Thank you.

MarkyMark

Anonymous said...

Anna, MarkyMark, and anyone else whom is interested;

With redards to the comments made about Helen Andelin's book, "Fascinating Womanhood", I would just like to say that this book saved my life as a woman. I have no idea how my life would have turned out had I not read it, and I am sure it would have taken a lot longer for me to become who I am today without it. I would very much encourage any woman out there to secure a copy of this rare book for herself, and for her daughters. It is a powerful book on how to be a lady, and a true woman.
Mrs. Andelin also has a few other books out, "The Fascinating Girl" for unmarried women, and "All About Raising Children" - all are outstanding.
Little known, Helen's husband, Dr. Aubrey Andelin has a book out that it the male comliment to "Fascinating Womanhood", called "Man of Steel and Velvet". It is a wonderful book for men of all ages, again, if one can secure a copy, as it is rare.
Thank you,
Emmy

MarkyMark said...

Emmy,

Thank you for the info on Dr. Aubrey Andelein's book! I remember reading about it on another website, but I couldn't remember where it was. I would like very much to read that book; I need it! Thanks to feminism and the destruction left in its wake, men don't know how to be men anymore than women not knowing how to be ladies these days. It's so sad, and it makes me ANGRY! I get so angry about this that I want to spit nails; I really do.

Unfortunately, we cannot go back in the past, and undo the feminists' misdeeds. However, what we CAN do is each of us, on an individual level, reconnect with our who we are as men & women; i.e. rediscover who we are, and live our lives accordingly, just like Anna has done. She and her husband are a shining example that this CAN be done; if they can do it, then so can the rest of us. Then, like Anna, we can share with the world our positive results, and inspire others to follow this path.

You see, Emmy, there is one, serious, glaring weak point that the feminists have; they have one HUGE, Achilles Heel, as it were: they do NOT reproduce! Their ideology, though it's a harmful and permeates all society, cannot live forever because of this. At some point, they will die off-thank GOODNESS for that!

The corollary is that people of the mindset who come here, who take their religious faith seriously (and I think that describes Anna and her readers, don't you?), do reproduce; they have babies, and they tend to have LOTS of them! My former pastor and his wife, when I last talked to him a few years ago, had EIGHT CHILDREN-eight kids who will be raised with traditional, old fashioned American values of God, family, and country. This is the BEST way to fight feminism; just do what they won't do-have kids-and at some point, those with a traditional mindset will prevail. Why? Because, demographically speaking, traditional people will achieve a critical mass (i.e. there will be a lot more of THEM vis a vis the feminists), and will then control the levers of power.

How do you think the Muslims are taking over Europe? They go there in huge numbers, and have lots of babies, something the natives don't do. We see Europe changing before our very eyes because of this. Because of this principle at work, there's a good chance we'll see Sharia law and honor killings in Europe before long. If we in America don't do something, then we shall suffer a similar fate.

Finally, let me say this: by having an old fashioned, traditional family, you're SPITTING IN THE FACE of the feminists-yeah! That's the LAST thing they want; if anything, the argument could be made that they're trying to get us to turn our backs on having families, so they can take over the nation. A nation is only as strong as its families; destroy the family, and you destroy the nation. Having large, traditional families, it seems to me, is the best way to fight the feminists and their foolishness (see Hawaiian Libertarian's blog post on this; you can visit his blog via my link list, as I have him on it).

MarkyMark

LizJames said...

Hello everyone,

I'm leaving a comment as someone who considers herself a feminist, and has enjoyed following this blog for quite some time. I find the gentle encouragement offered by Anna and others to be something I value highly as a wife, homemaker, and mom. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about other perspectives on feminism outlined in such a clear and gentle way--I believe I stand to learn a great deal from seeking to understand perspectives other than my own. I read on the LAF site "We are Ladies Against Feminism, not Ladies against Feminists". It saddens me to read terms in these comments such as "spitting in the face of feminists" and "they will die off--thank goodness". I think we have more to gain by listening to one another than by attempting to anger one another or to take sides. I sincerely hope this blog continues to be what it has offered to me in the past--a place of encouragement, hospitality, and honest discussion.

Auntie eM said...

Sorry for not reading all the comments; I have a suggestion to that excellent question; do a test of your patterns and behaviors in front of the mirror. I learned this by accident. Eat in front of the mirror; talk; walk; watch your facial expressions at certain imagined responses. If you are like me you will be amazed at changes you may wish to make. lol And YES long skirts, pretty fabrics, and good posture make for a feeling of femininity. I keep a very small vase of flowers on the kitchen-sink windowsill, and on my bathroom counter. Little things mean a lot. Like making pretty bookmarks with satin ribbon and beads or pressed flowers. I sure like your blog.

Andrea Grace said...

I know that it's never good to preface something with, "I don't want to be rude, but.." but here I go, I guess!
I actually disagree with this entire post.
I am neither a girly-girl nor a tomboy. I'm just a feminine woman. And I must confess that I hate doing everything on this list. I don't like classical music. I've had my hair long for years and recently got it cut short, and I like it far, far better. I'm not quiet or gentle; I laugh loudly and I speak up when I need to. I often think that the greatest recent cultural advancement was women finally being allowed to wear pants. And I'm not very sweet either. That's just my personality, and a long time ago I decided that being who you God designed you to be rather than shaping your personality to fit cultural standards is the way to go. [I wrote a post about this on my own blog, actually: http://www.ridiculouslikeafox.blogspot.com/2011/11/peg-boards-and-police-officers.html]
I am not sweet, gentle, quiet, or meek, and no one has ever said (or will ever say) that I act like anything but a woman! My feminity is something I am, not how I act.
And yes, I know that God is pleased with me.