Glamorizing the “Lady” compromises the worth of young girls’ emotions

Yasmeen Waliaga

In many environments, especially in the south, despite the fourth wave of feminism and all it has entailed, it remains a cultural phenomena to exemplify the “lady”: one void of feelings (at least to the public) who is well-behaved, modestly dressed and well-spoken. While this may seem like an ideal standard superficially, it inherently restrains a woman.

It is commonly known that at the root of being “ladylike” is the idea of concealing emotion. This is where the misunderstanding begins- many confuse classiness with being ladylike. To have class is to treat others with respect, demonstrate empathy, and expect the same standards to be applied in return.

We should encourage classiness and underline the benefits of manners. However, being a “lady” entails other constituents, which often give the wrong idea to young women.

Teaching girls to hide their emotions is likely to prompt them to believe their thoughts are unimportant. This causes girls to learn to place the well-beings of others and organizations over themselves. This kind of mindset can promote unwarranted self-sacrificing behavior, which our society epitomizes. Women taught to act like “ladies” are expected to listen to everyone but they don’t have to be listened to.

Concealing emotion can offer the opposite effect for girls as well. To be emotionless puts an emphasis on emotions for girls. Women must be acutely aware of these emotions in order to hide them and cautiously express them. The inner turmoil and anxiety from constant internal surveillance is thus inevitable.

There are important questions to consider: how can people know a woman is angry, discontent or uncomfortable if there is no display of emotion? And if no one expects a girl to have any personal motivations, how can she make any difference in the world? And does that mean that girls’ well-beings matter?

This is the correlation between hidden emotion and plateaued progression.

At times, it seems like girls are given no choice but to wear a coat of incompetence, showing the world that they can laugh contently at the female image that is safest for them to portray. This is the common scenario, especially for women born with that urge to do remarkable things, things that require power.

They have a sense of pride that refuses to be erased or belittled. And the only way to avoid others thinking they failed is to act okay with the current state of things and the results they might be internally paralyzed by, which is where this coat of incompetence comes from. It is evident again and again.

While advancements in gender equality have been made, an unsettling amount of stagnancy remains. If we look back to our upbringing and challenge the common statements that were made towards us, we can fix them and rearrange the thoughts that are instilled in young girls so that the next generation of capable, strong young women understand it is okay to speak up.