Thursday, October 6, 2011

ladylike (or otherwise)

This morning I came across this article about the perplexities of what I'll loosely call "femininity," and found myself immensely relieved to learn that there is at least one other person out there who is just as confused as I am about how to be a lady.

I'm not referring to my gender identity, mind you. I am definitely female and identify as a woman. What I'm talking about here is the distance I feel from women who seemingly came into this world knowing how to be girly--or, as the article puts it, "womeny women." Because at almost thirty years of age, I still have not figured it out.

Don't get me wrong--this isn't about my thinking there's something wrong with me, or believing that I have to fit into a mold dictated by society. Rather, I feel mystified that there are so many girls and women (some of whom are my friends), walking this earth with good-smelling, perfectly coiffed hair, perpetually manicured fingernails and always-shiny lips, speaking softly but elegantly, winning over children and men alike. Never having awkward moments, never fumbling their words (and, on the rare occasion that they do, somehow appearing adorable) and probably never ever passing gas of any sort. They know when to offer to pay for dinner and when to expect a man to take care of it, graciously smiling at him, their perfect hair shimmering in the candlelight.

I couldn't pull off any of that if I tried. In fact, if I tried, it would probably be worse than if I just accepted the fact that that isn't who I am.

(And yes, sure, I can cook. But when I do, I pull my imperfect hair back into a messy ponytail, get flour on my face, splatter olive oil on my shirt--because I almost always forget to put on an apron first--and have to put all my effort into not snapping at whoever else is in the kitchen with me about how they're chopping those onions the wrong way.)

I'm sure my mother would have taught me how to be ladylike if she hadn't been so busy getting her Ph.D., working full-time and raising a family. I'm sure my dad would have explained the importance of it to me if he weren't so into bad-ass, brilliant, no-time-for-perfect-hair women.Though, really, I don't think appearance or ability to respond to traditional chivalry was (or is) very high up on their list of priorities for me. They wanted me to be educated, successful and, most of all, happy.

And for the most part, I am. Just with messy hair, ragged fingernails and the occasional missed social cue.

1 comment:

Nohi Kids said...

love this. now, excuse me as I clean up the peach juice that is dripping down my face, chin, and shirt.....