Be a lady, they said…

Have you seen the video that’s going viral at the moment? Released at the end of February featuring actress Cynthia Nixon reading a piece of prose written by Camille Rainville (Writings of a Furious Woman).

One powerful piece of poetry, written about the conflicting demands on women and the impossibility of performing womanhood to today’s society standards (extracts used throughout this blog).

“Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Don’t show so much skin. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.”

I wouldn’t want to be in the public eye, would you?

Neither did Caroline Flack. She suffered for ten years thinking that because she was in the public eye, that’s how you were treated. She spent over ten years suffering. On 15th February, the day after St Valentine’s Day, she put an end to her suffering.

“Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat.”

What a waste of a beautiful and talented life. Caroline didn’t deserve this. Yet the British Media thought it was their right to behave in such a way. Just after Valentine’s Day when the world was awash with hearts and flowers and all thing lovey-dovey. Real or not real. For true love or vanity likes. Ego centric or modest and humble. Commercial gain or expression of true feeling. Caroline was a human being with real feelings, emotions and dignity. Didn’t she deserve more? Reward not punishment.

“Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone.”

I used to buy those gossip magazines. I’m just as guilty as the rest. I accept some blame. Do the British media not have a duty of care to act with a certain level of respect? Do they also accept some blame? Will it change? No! Will we have to be the change. Yes! Change our behaviour to change results. We have to stop feeding the machine!

“Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless.”

In the Netherlands people don’t seem to be so gossip-hungry. We still have celebrity magazines, but not as many. Demand does not drive the supply of new, fresh gossip on a daily / hourly basis. Especially the ‘negative’ news that plays on the weaknesses and vulnerability of the individual in question. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, it’s more experiential feeling and empirical evidence! I think the British media have more rights and permissions to invade someone’s personal space. In the Netherlands, people seem to be more protected. The laws of intrusion seem stricter and we tend to safeguard better the human rights of people in the public eye … but we’re also just not that interested!!

“Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain.”

As direct as the Dutch are, their demeanour is very different. The Dutch are reserved and formal when dealing with outsiders. They are private people, keeping themselves to themselves and do not put their possessions or emotions on display. Self-control is seen to be a virtue.

They do not draw attention to themselves and I think this reflects in the privacy they also give to other people and the privacy the press and the media gives to people in the spotlight.
The Dutch don’t go seeking for gossip or finding the negative in others, because they wouldn’t want it brought upon themselves. Maybe a lesson we could all learn!

“Be a lady they said. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.”

“Just ‘be a lady’ they said.”

What does that actually mean anyway?

Just be yourself, I say.

Rant over! x

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