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Author Topic: I want to be a lady
katharina
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I think being a lady involves the following:

1. Be slow to anger.
2. Mrs. M's advice was perfect - a lady is concerned with those around her.
3. Recognize and compliment in other people what they secretly like about themselves.
4. Don't tolerate disrespect. This is harder because you still have to be slow to anger and considerate of people. I think this mostly means to know your own great worth and not go along with people who try to demean it. You are of great worth, and the people around you are of great worth, and I think that a lady always acts in accordance of both of those truths.

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ElJay
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I, also, would make an awful lady, and I have never understood why anyone would want to be one. But if that's what you want, Alt, good luck.
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Katarain
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I want to be ladylike too, and I think a big part of it is how you dress. I think people carry themselves differently when they're dressed up as opposed to when wearing an old pair of sweats. I think dressing in attractive, feminine clothes would help a woman to act more ladylike. (There's also the practical aspect that if you're in a skirt, you're a lot more likely to sit "properly" for the sake of modesty.)

Currently, I wear jeans almost every day. I'd much rather wear slacks and skirts--but I don't have the money yet for a significant wardrobe change. When I can afford it, I'll be wearing more feminine styles--preferably with a tailored office look. I know that will affect my behavior.

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fiazko
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451, but I still managed to rate "picture of politeness." Huh.

I am not a lady. I have no interest in being one. I can wear dresses once in a while, and I try to be polite and maintain some level of etiquette, but being ladylike is just not me. I treasure my independence, and I rage at the thought of being submissive or excessively deferent. Perhaps I should work on that.

(Btw, Alt, I am not trying to spit on your desire to become more ladylike. I just wanted to express that it does not work for me.)

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Tresopax
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Isn't the biggest part of being a lady being overly concerned with largely trivial social rules - such as how precisely is the right way to dress, speak, eat, etc.? I think it is, more or less, equivlanet to girls trying to make themselves into their own dolls. [Wink]
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fiazko
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No wonder we get along so well, ElJay. [Smile]
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Uprooted
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quote:
An excellent book that gives VERY pragmatic advice regarding civility, courtesy, manners for all sorts of situations:

The Family Book of Manners by Hermine Hartley.

OK, so now for a truly important question: How do we pronounce the author's first name? Her -MINE? Her- MEEN? Her - my - KNEE?

I mean, thanks to Ms. Rowling and Miss Granger, we all know how to pronounce Hermione! ;-)

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katharina
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quote:
I treasure my independence, and I rage at the thought of being submissive or excessively deferent.
I don't think these are mutually exclusive. Why does being a lady mean being submissive or deferent?

I suppose the difference is how you define a lady. If you think of a lady as socially-adept decoration that never causes waves, then the above would apply. I doubt that's what Alt is referring to, though.
Like this:
quote:
Isn't the biggest part of being a lady being overly concerned with largely trivial social rules - such as how precisely is the right way to dress, speak, eat, etc.? I think it is, more or less, equivlanet to girls trying to make themselves into their own dolls.
Polite, unassailable decoration. I don't think that's what a lady is.

I always thought of a lady as someone who could give 'em hell so intelligently and gracefully that discriminating people think better of her for it. A mixture of high standards, intelligence, insight, and compassion.

Like Florence Nightingale - she was a lady. Not just because of the compassion and nursing part, but because when she saw a system that needed to be changed, she wouldn't shut up or be brushed off until it was. In addition to the compassion and nursing, she was a great tech writer, mathemetician, and statician. She wasn't just decoration, but she was always a lady.

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Uprooted
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Alt, on a more serious note [than my previous post]: I noticed a post of yours buried in another thread about going through a hurtful time. Could this have something to do with "how can I be more of a lady?" If so -- Hon, don't beat yourself up over a relationship not working out. It doesn't mean you are lacking and have to change who you are. It just means that you haven't found the person yet who will truly appreciate you.

*disclaimer* -- I totally don't know you and could be completely misinterpreting all this--for all I know you are a happily married mother of four--so my apologies in advance for being presumptuous!

(edited to add bracketed comment)

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FIJC
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quote:
"I am not a lady. I have no interest in being one. I can wear dresses once in a while, and I try to be polite and maintain some level of etiquette, but being ladylike is just not me. I treasure my independence, and I rage at the thought of being submissive or excessively deferent. Perhaps I should work on that."
Since when does wearing dresses, heels, and putting on make-up amount to be submissive and not independent? I do all above because I want to, not because someone tells me to. I love looks from the 1940's and 1950's, and I find that dressing like this is another way to express myself. And I definitely wouldn't consider myself submissive or a push-over, especially not with what I do for a living.
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fiazko
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I'm fairly certain that ladies don't give anyone hell, but then, as I said, I am not one, so I wouldn't know.
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katharina
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quote:
In fact, Florence Nightingale accomplished so much during her full life that it is intriguing to wonder how she might be remembered had the public not become so fixated on the romantic image of her night-time rounds by candlelight at Scutari. This small museum highlights all of her many accomplishments: introducing sanitary science to nursing and the British Army; raising the image of the British soldier from a brawling lowlife to a heroic working man; transforming nursing from an occupation which previously had been considered fit only for prostitutes to a respectable profession; establishing a nursing school at St. Thomas's Hospital; laying out the principles of nursing in print in 1860; and revolutionizing the public health system of India without leaving England.

Ironically, during much of her long and accomplished life (she died in 1910, at the age of 90) the general public assumed she was already dead. Nightingale actually encouraged this misinformation. She returned from the Crimea under an assumed name and walked the last few miles to her parents' home from the train station. Uninterested in her celebrity status, she wanted only to continue her work in peace and quiet. She refused photographs and interviews, and avoided anything not directly related to her work for a Royal Commission investigating health in the British Army. Although she was undoubtedly the driving force behind the work, she almost never appeared in public.

Maybe we are defining what a lady is differently. Being a lady does not equal being a pansy.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
especially not with what I do for a living
Are you a dominatrix, by any chance? Cause that would be awesome.
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fiazko
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Thank you, FIJC, for twisting my words around. At no point did I imply that being feminine (wearing dresses, etc.) equaled being submissive. Those things are part of being a lady, but by "ladylike," I was referring more to the 19th century version. I suppose I should have been more specific. What I'm really talking about is the idea that standing up for yourself might be "inappropriate." Maybe that doesn't have anything to do with being a lady. I just don't like being told what to do or wear or say.
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katharina
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I think we must be defining it differently. I think being a lady is more about how you treat other people and the world around you.
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fiazko
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I give up.
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katharina
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I'm sorry if I upset you. I'm honestly confused how being a lady is equated to decorative submission.
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FIJC
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quote:
"Thank you, FIJC, for twisting my words around. At no point did I imply that being feminine (wearing dresses, etc.) equaled being submissive. Those things are part of being a lady, but by "ladylike," I was referring more to the 19th century version. I suppose I should have been more specific. What I'm really talking about is the idea that standing up for yourself might be "inappropriate." Maybe that doesn't have anything to do with being a lady. I just don't like being told what to do or wear or say."
So, how was I supposed to know that by using the term "ladylike" you specifically meant a 19th century archetype? I am not a mind-reader. If that's what you meant, please articulate that sentiment better.
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fiazko
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I'm not upset at you, kat. I'm just frustrated at my own inability to be coherent.

I guess I just see being a lady as being confined to a set of rules--behave this way, speak this way. Like I said, I do not like to be told what to do, to say, or to wear. I hesitate to identify as a feminist, but I guess I must be one.

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fiazko
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My apologies, FIJC. I'm bowing out of this discussion now.
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katharina
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I consider myself a feminist. I regret that the world is such that believing in my own equality and freedom to choose my life makes me one instead of that being the standard attitude, but if it does, I'll accept the term.

I don't like the social restrictions, but it isn't restricted just to women. Society in general makes these rules, and they are just as stringent men sometimes. For much of the business world, guys wear the same clothes, talk about sports, play golf or tennis, care about cars, and have their worth measured (often) by how financially successful they are. My dad said once that men (basically) have two choices: they can go to work or go to jail. None of those things make a gentleman, though.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
For much of the business world, guys where the same clothes, talk about sports, play golf or tennis, care about cars, and have their worth measured (often) by how financially successful they are.
Which I'm big on not going along with. I am trying to quash expectations, preconceptions, and the whole good old boy network one person at a time.
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Jaiden
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I went to finishing school for a stint.
I'm not a lady though- I know I break certain rules all the time.
--

Things I associate with a modern lady:

To be polite at all times.
To be nice and caring but not allowing people to put you down, etc.
To present yourself in the right way- eating cleanly, writing thank you cards properly, etc.
To -know- how to dress appropriately and present a polished appearance. This does not mean you can't wear blue jeans, etc. but that you wear them when it's appropriate.
To be a well rounded person. Know about politics, know about history, know about "girly" things (clothing, makeup...), etc.
Good posture.
Refraining from certain activities- lying, cheating, smoking, drinking large quantities of alcohol, being overly flirtatious, wearing next to nothing.
You keep the comfort of others always in mind (and strive to make them as comfortable as possible)

--

I guess more specifically...

Towards dressing I was taught to wear only one thing "revealing" at a time. So if you’re wearing a short-ish skirt, don’t wear a skimpy top. She also told me always dress wearing flattering clothes and colors. Don’t pay too much attention to what was in style, etc. If you look good wearing it, go for it- try to combine one thing from the season with your outfit though. Don’t wear worn clothing- fix the button fallen off, etc. but if there are pulls, etc. don’t wear it out.

Politeness wise, some of the older “rules” no longer apply- don’t get too uptight about it. Introduce your guests to each other in the right order, but if someone doesn’t introduce you in the right order, don’t worry. Also greet anybody you’re introduced to in the order given. You may know you should greet Mr. Brown first, but if you’re first introduced to his children, nowadays it would be considered rude to address him first, ignoring the children.

There are all kinds of things... but I’m not sure you’re looking for a modern lady or a prim and proper lady from the past.

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Teshi
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4. Drink tea. When someone visits, give them the best seat, offer them a drink and ask about their family. Keep a room or the room neat and tidy and welcoming to visitors.
5. Watch Pride and Prejudice the mini-series.
6. Take small bites and sips.
7. Do not use slang. Swear only when absolutely necessary, such as when your keys have gone missing.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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I can't imagine that being a lady is a matter of following a certain series of rules. I do imagine that all of the behavior that later becomes these rules flow from a core character, and that core is best presented by stories of ladies behaving in their most ladylike, like katharina did with Florence Nightingale, not by enumerating a series of axioms.
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Theaca
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quote:
Originally posted by Jaiden:
don’t get too uptight about it. Introduce your guests to each other in the right order, but if someone doesn’t introduce you in the right order, don’t worry. Also greet anybody you’re introduced to in the order given. You may know you should greet Mr. Brown first, but if you’re first introduced to his children, nowadays it would be considered rude to address him first, ignoring the children.

Ok, I don't know ANYTHING about rules like that. I can't even understand what it means. O_O
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The Pixiest
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damn you snowden! I've had Luck Be A Lady stuck in my head since yesterday and I don't even know most of the lyrics.
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Storm Saxon
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Everyone that I've ever known who made it clear that they were to be treated as a lady was a huge pain in the ass to be around in a very annoying, anal-retentive, self-absorbed kind of way that was very burdensome. Give me someone who is friendly and polite and can walk barefoot through the mud over someone who is formal and stuck-up any day.

Of course, maybe some of the nice, friendly girls I know think of themselves as 'ladies' but don't demand that the world around them treat them as a 'lady' and kiss their ass. Kind of hard to say, I guess. [Smile]

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Teshi
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quote:
not by enumerating a series of axioms.
Well, I'm not a lady, so I wouldn't know that.

8. Treat yourself and others with respect.
9. Dress according to the situation but overall in a nice fashion.

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Teshi
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10. Ladies may walk barefoot through the mud but only if it's what a) the company is doing b) in pursuit of some good work.

Basically, they can't frolic.

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katharina
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Why not?

They don't frolic during funerals, certainly, but they frolic when frolicking is appropriate. Not during work, church, or when someone wants to have a serious talk, but any other time.

It's possible to be considerate of other people's feelings and comfortableness without killing all the fun inside.

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Storm Saxon
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*laughs at what Teshi said*

[Smile]

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Teshi
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quote:
They don't frolic during funerals, certainly, but they frolic when frolicking is appropriate
I mean in the mud, barefoot.

They may frolic in other ways, as you said, as long as it is appropriate. However, frolicking in mud aside from the two conditions given above, is unladylike.

quote:
No one else but the rose bush knows

How nice MUD feels between the toes!

- A childhood book.
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katharina
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quote:
They may frolic in other ways, as you said, as long as it is appropriate. However, frolicking in mud aside from the two conditions given above, is unladylike.
Why?

What principle of being a lady does it violate? Frolicking in mud, barefoot, and then walking into someone's house without cleaning off your feet would definitely be unladylike, and getting mud all over your clothes and then hugging people without changing them would be unladylike, but what principle does frolicking in mud, by itself, violate?

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twinky
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I think you and and Teshi are operating from significantly different definitions of the term "lady."
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Teshi
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Well, it may always depend on the type of frolicking you mean, as well as the type of lady. I mean, if we're talking lady as in being considerate of others, not being rude of offensive, then I am a lady myself.

However, the lady that Alt seemed to be interested in was one that observed rules of grace and manners as well as those of social conventions. Although wallowing in the mud could be considered graceful I don't think it's the type of lady Alt means, although she may correct me on this.


And... I'm not all that serious anyway [Smile] . If Alt wants to become a lady she must choose her own parametres of what being a lady means to her, just as you have chosen yours, katharina. In this day and age, there are no outside expectations. A lady is what she makes of herself. She may be, as saxon observes, prissy and a pain in the neck. She may be caring like Florence Nightingale. She may be graceful. She may not like mud or insects or violent computer games; she may partake in them when it is appropriate; she may love them.

There are no rules for a lady, at least not here in North America. There are some that are certainly largely followed as universals to ladylike behavior (such as manners), but there are no rules.

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katharina
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quote:
A lady is what she makes of herself...
There are no rules for a lady, at least not here in North America. There are some that are certainly largely followed as universals to ladylike behavior (such as manners), but there are no rules.

Hmm...I disagree. If everyone defines lady for themselves, then the word ceases to have any meaning at all. That reminds of Alice's conversation with humpty dumpty, where language ceases to be a tool of communication and becomes instead a way to reinforce one's own ideas without confronting those of others.

I know you're not serious. I'm not stringently invested in it, either. I have thought about this before, though, in part because my dad and older brother consider me tremendously unladylike and I have had to work out why I disagree with them so vehemently. That they think me disagreeing vehemently makes me unladylike is just the beginning.

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El JT de Spang
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I think the manner in which you express your disagreement is more telling than the fact that you disagree. As you said, it's possible to be a lady without being obsequious.
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Teshi
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I think that the word lady is almost meaningless. It implies good manners but many ladies have terrible manners. It used to imply "good breeding"- what is that now? It used to imply femininity but what is "feminine" about the things women do nowadays?
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katharina
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I suppose the easiest to settle the debate in this context would be to ask AltofD what she meant by being a lady. [Smile] The definition may not be fixed for all time, but it would bring some focus to the advice.

What it means to be feminine is not the same now as what it meant before. *thinks* I think of lady and gentleman as almost interchangable. The characteristics that make up an admirable lady are the same as the characteristics that make up an admirable gentleman. In either case, it requires magnanimity, graciousness, perception, intelligence, engagement with the world, and a degree of selflessness.

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Ophelia
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I don't know about being a lady, but I have an answer to this:
quote:
OK, so now for a truly important question: How do we pronounce the author's first name? Her -MINE? Her- MEEN? Her - my - KNEE?

Hermine is a German name, and in Germany it is pronounced hair-MEE-nuh.

It's the name of a character in Der Steppenwolf. Also, I think that in the German versions of the Harry Potter books, they changed Hermione to Hermine.

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Uprooted
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hair-MEE-nuh -- that's lovely. I doubt the name is given such a pretty treatment in English! ;-)

My mom wanted to name me Solveig, which is pronounced SOOL-vay in Norwegian, but realized that it was not a practical name to give a child in the U.S. . .

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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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I humbly ask that you may all forgive the confusion I have caused by not defining what I understand to be a lady. To me, a lady is a woman who can act and talk gracefully. Her posture must be perfect at all times and her walk must be poised and elegant. I try to laugh as feminenily as possible, but there are times when I forget such things. I know that a lady must always be respectful and white glove clean. Her speech, and writing must be inpeccable and she must dress as feminenily as she could possibly can. I want people to admire my grace. I want to exude an aura that will make people respect me right away. Does everyone know where I am getting to?
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Theaca
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quote:
Originally posted by Altáriël of Dorthonion:
Does everyone know where I am getting to?

Fantasy? [Big Grin]
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Katarain
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I think you should pay close attention to Bree on Desperate Housewives. [Smile] That's who your description reminded me of.

I wonder if there are finishing schools still around.

But really, I think you can achieve all that, if you work at it. You could tackle one aspect at a time--it takes 28 days to set a habit, so maybe you could work on one aspect a month.

It does seem to be a bit drastic, though. Keeping good posture all the time makes me tired. Wish I had learned it as a kid.

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FIJC
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quote:
"Her posture must be perfect at all times and her walk must be poised and elegant. I try to laugh as feminenily as possible, but there are times when I forget such things. I know that a lady must always be respectful and white glove clean. Her speech, and writing must be inpeccable and she must dress as feminenily as she could possibly can. I want people to admire my grace."
If you want to improve your posture and general movement, I highly recommend taking English/Hunt Seat riding lessons. It's a lot harder than it looks and you have to have a keen sense of balance with strength; this involves good posture.

I know that I have been able to get stronger and improve my sense of balance because of riding, plus, I love horses. I ride a pink (strawberry roan) appleoosa, who actually likes being groomed...you can't get a prissier looking horse than her, but she also loves jumping. [Smile]

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katharina
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To improve your posture, lift weights and do exercises that strengthen your back. Since you're female, you don't have the testosterone you'd need to bulk up, but it will tighten the muscles and naturally give you good posture without having to think about it all the time.
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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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quote:
Originally posted by Theaca:
quote:
Originally posted by Altáriël of Dorthonion:
Does everyone know where I am getting to?

Fantasy? [Big Grin]
Please, I know that being this type of lady is possible!
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ludosti
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I'm sorry, but I find this incredibly funny.

Linky

[ROFL]

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twinky
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I don't think that being respected is strongly correlated with your take on being ladylike, AoD.

However, the sort of "lady" that everyone but kat appears to be talking about is definitely not the sort of woman I'm attracted to (or have dated). (Added: So you should perhaps take my opinion with a grain of salt.)

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