I had an interesting experience a few days back. I had gone to ‘The Body Shop’¾ yes the same pretty, enchanting yet supremely over priced, wellness chain of stores selling body wash, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, what not. Let me tell you, this was not the first time that I was going there. Been there before, had felt lured-enchanted but never bought anything. And also, I am not a miser. I do splurge on things that interest me. These body shop things I’ve genuinely never understood. But yes, They’ve been a part of my fantasies of course.

As I entered the store, I saw a pretty woman in a white shirt, black blazer and skirt, black heels and more than enough make-up on her face. But let’s not judge her because it’s none of our business. She can dress the way she pleases or is asked to. She saw me, checked me out and instantly walked towards me. I asked for a moisturizer, and hoped that’s what they call it. They don’t call it that, by the way. They call it Body Butter. There were enchanting fragrancies like strawberry and orange and honey, but there was one I found particularly amusing, and that was mojito. She put it a little on my wrist to try and I instantly giggled. This smells exactly like mojito! But why would someone want to smell like mojito? Won’t you just want to drink it!!” There was no look of smile on her face. I moved forward awkwardly. I finally bought some stuff from there and from that, the guilt of buying a lip balm for 350Rs will remain in my mind till my death bed. Especially with an understanding that I keep losing these things.


There’s so much to keep up with, if you want to keep up with fashion. What is in, what is out, what is way too out. “Did you get hold of those new palazzos? The new loreal hair colour is beautiful. Did you try that new lipstick?” Well no. I remember had once fought with my regular neighborhood shopkeeper for giving me the BabyLips lip balm, because for me, it was a normal lip balm to be used for dry lips in winter, and trust me, for people like me who have ridiculously dry lips; even the AC is enough to dry them up. We don’t need weather change. So anyway, this lip balm had colour and I was scandalized. And when I got it back to the guy, he was shocked right back at me. What? “Aaj kal esa hi chal raha hai! Thoda colour toh hoga na. Ladkiyo ko toh thoda colour achha lage na”, and that last sentence had ticked me off. I thought, “What do you mean? I am not a girl or a normal girl?” Really, I had specifically mentioned that I didn’t want colour! How difficult is that to interpret? Since then, I’ve settled to the most intimate Himalaya lip balm. Serves the purpose, No colour, nice smell. Done.


Clara bow, the actress, who didn't pose like a 'lady' for a beauty contest audition, but won
Clara bow, the actress, who didn’t pose like a ‘lady’ for a beauty contest audition, but won

This part of the world, India, we know that winter is coming, and most of us (women) are happy because it means so much less of shaving-waxing-maintaining. Wool rescues your skin from all the embarrassment. And it’s relieving because you don’t want to look into have a closeup look at your hands or legs on weekends and say, “Oh, now let’s do something about this.” Ironically, the first kind of the gross judgers are the beauty parlour people themselves. I understand it is their job to make people look pretty but in the end, forgetting that it is always temporary and that a natural state of being needs to be respected too, is miserable. Their first look at you and their judgments start. They look at your hands and they go like, “Phew, don’t you want to get rid of all this (hair)? O you’ve been using an epilator, yes the hardness of your skin shows.” And you smile loosely and try not say anything rude because hey, they are doing your eyebrow! That can be a big risk! But in your mind, you are like, “Yes my dear woman, I guess there are better things to do in life and there’s no time to be obsessed about few strands of hair on my hands!” I get it, it must be their idea of small talk but it is really irritating. “What shampoo do you use or what conditioner do you use”, and that too in that sense of judgment, that means “oh, look what you’ve done to your hair! Your hair is so dry- they are dead. If I were your hair, I’d quit already!”


After all that ranting, you buy a different conditioner on your way back home then look at yourself in the mirror when you go back home and you’re like, “Is it that bad? Am I that bad?” Just then, Papa comes into the picture and says “Hey! What are you doing, staring at in the mirror that way? You are just fine, beautiful. Nothing wrong with you.” Just what you need.


I mean it’s perfectly fine if there are women who love looking perfect all the time. It’s fine if your lifestyle includes pampering yourself regularly and more of the worldly self-indulgence. I have mine too. But what’s with the expectation of wanting every woman to be the same, and then questioning their grace as a woman if they don’t follow the norm? I read this today morning and was infuriated to the core: http://lifestyle.allwomenstalk.com/ways-to-be-more-ladylike. Go on, read the steps to be more ladylike. Then I googled the thing, “How to be ladylike”, and I was really open to learning, trust me. I was disgusted to find a wikihow article on the same, and could not avoid the stress put on ‘treating others with respect, not criticizing others, or speaking swear words.” And then of course there were ‘suave men bloggers’ having their word on the ‘right lady’ and what ‘gentlemen prefer’: http://jamesmsama.com/2014/02/18/5-things-making-women-less-ladylike/. In totality, if you look at them, you’ll see that most of the right points mentioned in all of these links, are just so general that they apply to all human beings-men or women or otherwise; and when you just put them out solely for women (the lady code), it looks strikingly unfair. About the wrong points, of something like ‘dress like a lady’, ‘speak like a lady’, well, they were just wrong.


I suddenly got motivated to write down the real steps of being ladylike. But really, there wasn’t much. Point 1 and I was done. “1. Be your own lovely self: Dress the way you please, speak the way you please. Be an amazing perfectionist if that’s suits you but it’s equally okay if you are clumsy too. Warmth comes naturally to you and don’t let people tell you what to do with it and how to comfort others. Love yourself first. Nothing in you is ugly. Don’t judge others on appearance. It is none of your business. Don’t let others rule your judgment of self. It is none of their business.”


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7 thoughts on “Being ladylike or unladylike: What to be, what not to be

  1. Totally agree with you! Going to the beauty parlor has been the most dreadful experience for me on most occasions. Even my wedding stylist commented – “I made your look “pretty”! I was like WTH…is that what you would say to a bride just so you satisfy your need for self-praise. I wish I had done my bridal make-up myself – I am better at it anyway. Does make-up make you pretty? I say there is no need to blend in with all the pretty and lady-like stuff. I prefer to go against most trends….I know I don’t get very nice feedback, but its important to be just the way you are and loving yourself! People judge no matter what 🙂 especially in our Indian culture. Here in the US, most people even total strangers will compliment you! I wish our society (Indian women especially) would change their mind-set and they learn to stop saying negative things about physical appearance at the least! You get more pleasure by complimenting someone rather than criticizing them! It is nicer to pass on a smile rather than a head-to-toe scan – just a small step towards making someone happy!


  2. Loved it!!! I too believe in self-indulgence, but I dont agree at all to be under constant pressure to look good or be presentable just so that it is soothing for people who look at you. Nice take on all those things, I could totally relate to this article


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