By Teri M Bethel
The Collins Dictionary says that when you say a woman is a lady, you mean that she behaves in a polite, dignified and graceful way. You see, being a lady is much more than having a series of female body parts. Like beauty, it goes deeper than the surface of your skin. It's a part of you that unapologetically embraces your value and invites others to do the same.
Being treated like a lady is not a headlock kind of thing where you make demands of every male you encounter to treat you like a princess. It is more about conducting yourself in a manner where you are celebrated and not tolerated; respectfully embraced and not be made indistinct . In other words, being treated like a lady is something you command by enlightened behaviour, not demand with aggression.
Is chivalry dead?
In an age where chivalry seems to be dying, many women still want to be treated like a lady. But do we conduct ourselves as ladies or is it just something we feel we are entitled to as women? Women, in general, want to be admired, respected, cherished and cared for. Of course there are those who believe that chivalry died with the Knights of the Round Table, but that's not so. For a woman to be a lady is a matter of choice; a decision. For someone to treat her as one is also a decision, generally based on how a woman carries herself and how a man is brought up.
The fact is, even tough women want to be treated with dignity. Their mouths may be hard and their countenance severe, but when consistently treated like the precious jewels that they are, you will undoubtedly see that icy surface melt. Some women say that they don't need a man to open the door for them, as though that is the full extent of being a lady.
So what does being lady look like?
Here are a few characteristics. A lady is a woman of substance.
• She treats herself with respect
• She avoids vulgar communication
• She sees herself as a person of value
• She is not promiscuous
• She knows her true identity
• She is tough-minded yet tender-hearted
• She is polite and has poise
• She gives proper attention to her hygiene and grooming
• She dresses with dignity
• She surrounds herself with people who celebrate her
• She is particular about the environments she visits
• She builds people and communities
Shine from the inside out
Before anyone can treat you like a lady, you must first become a lady. If something is not valued it is usually not given much attention; without attention there is decay. You are valued and of great value. Start by seeing yourself through the eyes of the Creator. Ask him to show you how and begin to give yourself the attention you need to refine yourself.
While you may have an 'a ha!' moment overnight, becoming a lady is a lifestyle that will require you to renew your thinking. Like tossing old thoughts and habits to replace them with acceptable behaviour that will help to propel you in the right area. Queen Esther went through a time of purification before she could spend time with the King. It was a time of training that went beyond beauty treatments. It wasn't a one-shot deal to impress the King, it was a regimen that was meant to equip her for a lifestyle of living as a regal lady.
Small steps to take
You may not have the budget afforded Queen Esther, but you can begin your journey to becoming a lady with small steps. Start by being polite. Being gracious is an attribute that society is in great need of. Do you walk like the Incredible Hulk with a scowl on your face? Consider walking with your legs closer together, using smaller steps and a pleasant smile. Walk with purpose, shoulders back and chin up; it shows confidence and strength.
Be gracious--even when you don't feel like it. Loud, raucous conversations in public with a beer bottle in hand and your northern extremities pouring from your blouse paints a negative image of you. Control what you say and how you say it; speak clearly so you could be understood. Real ladies use clean language to express themselves and not barroom slang.
Changing your mind set will change your behaviour
Read empowering books to improve your communication skills and behaviour. A good etiquette book can teach you good manners, show you how to eat and which utensils to use when dining, as well as why you shouldn't talk with food in your mouth. By reading, you can learn what polite conversation sounds like; how to sit and other considerations relating to a lady's deportment.
You not having been groomed as a lady during childhood is no reason to remain in that unladylike state. Presenting yourself as a lady does more than impact the way you regard yourself. In addition to feeling better about yourself, you are more likely to receive the respect you deserve. Now, if the people in your circle don't treat ladies with respect, then maybe it's time to step out of your circle and into a better one.
• Teri M Bethel is an author as well as a publisher of books that seek to entertain, empower and promote healthy lifestyles for adults and children. Additionally, she provides a free online directory for local authors to showcase their family friendly books. Teri and her husband serve as marriage and family advisors for a local ministry. Visit her website, www.BooksByBethel.com, or e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.