Be A Lady They Said

Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.

Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.

Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.

Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.

Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so up tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.

Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will some day. You’ll change your mind.

Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.

Just “be a lady” they said.

193 thoughts on “Be A Lady They Said

      1. I have to laugh. After such a sad but informative and effecting treatise on what women must endure in this life, a woman, Ellen, posts an ugly response that has nothing to do with the intent of the writing itself. We call someone a thief for posting even another author’s essay? I post things all the time on social media, as do millions of others with just a name or even no name. So we’re all thieves! It’s not thievery to share another’s thoughts, especially if you give them credit. You’re a troll or a miserable human being. Sorry, but this is just plain ugliness.

        Liked by 18 people

    1. This is so true. I am 11 but I still understand this. My mom will never stop going about “oh honey when you are 15 you will fill you face with makeup! Blah blah blah” and I will be honest the only thing that is close to makeup I have worn is lip glam and nail polish- and I don’t even use the nail polish anymore. My grandma and mom will always say “oh honey we don’t want you to get fat, we don’t want you to be an ompalompa” even my best freind called me that once. So then I stopped eating then they would be mad I didn’t eat and I told them “look I’m not eating so I won’t get ‘fat’ I hope ur happy now” they want me to do this and do that, but they were also a kid once they should understand the pressure being the oldest child, the pressure of having so much expectations to fulfill, the pressure of having to smile as if nothing is wrong even tho my whole world is crumbling. And I honestly don’t know what to do.. also Ms.Camille if you have any advice please tell me..I am just so lost and scared at this point I don’t know what to do.

      -from a very sad,lost, and confused 11 year old girl

      Liked by 16 people

  1. Reading your fantastic piece, I can’t quite believe how much I have heard over my 47 years….. I feel sad for my daughter but glad I’m somewhat aware of the archaic expectations we somehow need to be rid off. My husband said something a couple of days ago, very slight, in a point about something else, he’s a good man and didn’t hear the archaic coming out. My son just looked at me and said….’what do you think about that’? What I am proud of is, that he wasn’t talking about my husbands point, he was talking about the sexist use of the word ‘girl’ and my son picked up on it.
    The future is in our kids hands…
    We have to keep checking ourselves. I thought I’d read this to my daughter…. what I should have been thinking is…. I’ll read it to our entire family!

    Liked by 7 people

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