Last week I saw a programme on BBC4 called "How To Be A Lady: An Elegant History". Now I don't particularly aspire to be a lady so I wasn't looking for an hour of televised finishing school but I was at home with not a lot to do so thought I'd give it a try and if it was just that I would turn over and watch something else, like Don't Tell The Bride. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the programme and felt that it generated a lot of comments of my own which I was compelled to write about since it is linked, in some way, to vintage. I felt like some comments chimed well with my own feelings of being a woman but most importantly I did not feel patronised. I did not feel that someone was talking down to me and questioning my femininity purely because I do not behave in a certain way or know how to create the perfect posy.
|You don't have to live in a country pile to be a lady|
First of all Rachel visited an establishment called The English Manner which provides "international training and consultancy in contemporary etiquette, protocol, the arts, social skills, household and event planning." and it was there that she pulled off the door handle. She spoke to some young women who were at the Manner being taught etiquette and she also met Diana Mather who was one of the teachers. I am paraphrasing here but basically Diana was saying that there is a return to all things lady-like in recent years which she feels is due to our security as women in our equality with men. She acknowledged that men and women are different and believes that women feel able to go back to being more lady-like and treated as such without having to behave like men in order to be taken seriously.
|"Playing the Lady" - dealing cards backstage during Carry on Jeeves|
Later on in the show Rachel spoke to Bidisha who is a feminist writer and you can read her blog here. By this part the show was drawing to it's conclusion and looking at what place, if any, being a lady has in the future. Bidisha was saying that the model of womanhood that's being represented to us through the media is not what some women feel they want to respond to. Through fashion and media women are objectified and it's all very cheapening. She was saying that in fashion there's often more flesh than cloth on show and there's a reaction to this to cover up instead and to be the opposite. There's a trend which is bringing back the formality and elegance to a culture which these days is just quite vulgar. Bidisha said that she feels that being a lady is now so divorced from it original meaning, and the class system it was entrenched within, that we can now take the power back. We can reinvent what a lady is and what it means into being a "brilliant, strong, and sisterly woman."
|Do I look like a lady to you?|
So there you have it folks. I'm sorry it's been a long and wordy post but there's just so much I wanted to express. I also would like my blog to have more substance than here's a hat I wore or here's a place I went. Hopefully you've enjoyed this post and I would really, really, love to hear any comments or feedback you may have.
How To Be A Lady: An Elegant History is still available on BBC I Player here.