Should Girls Be Ladylike? Stop Telling Your Daughter to "Be More Ladylike"!
Why are girls told to cross their legs and hold their tongues? Raise your daughter to become a strong young woman -- not a genteel lady!
Should girls be ladylike? This is a question that has been thrown my way by various sources ever since I had my daughter.
And here is why I beg to differ with this age-old question.
Should girls be ladylike? Hear me out!
I dress my five-year-old daughter mostly in black t-shirts and leggings or jeans with sneakers or boots.
I would rather sign her up for Muay Thai classes instead of ballet.
She is fascinated with zombies, all things creepy, and loves Halloween.
No, I did not secretly wish for a son — I just couldn’t care less about raising my daughter to “be more ladylike”.
What does that even mean anyway?
When I hear someone tell girls to act more ladylike, what I understand is that they want us to sit down and shut up.
Cross your legs
Girls are told to sit properly with their legs crossed so as not to flash their underwear to the world.
Well you know what? Maybe we should tell boys to stop trying to sneak peeks up girls’ skirts and to politely look away should an accident occur.
This is also why I rarely let my daughter wear skirts or dresses, and even when she does I make sure there are shorts or leggings underneath.
I don’t want my child to be restricted and not swing on the monkey bars at the playground, or sit out from kicking a ball around with her friends, or not laze casually on a picnic mat at a family day out — just because she’s worried about someone gawking at her undies, and also because that isn’t “proper girly” behaviour.
By telling your daughter to sit in a more ladylike manner, you are teaching her that it’s her fault some people are deriving sexual pleasure from viewing her body without her consent, that she is responsible for the way others are unable to control their own lustful urges, therefore she should correct herself.
Hold your tongue
Girls are also told to not express their opinions so freely because by doing so they could come across as being b*tchy.
But you know why this is harmful? You are trying to silence her thoughts and her voice. It gives her the notion that her ideas don’t matter and aren’t worth listening to.
This is why she will keep things to herself and be afraid to speak up when it really counts — like telling someone if she has been abused.
I don’t want my child to think that no one cares about what she has to say, or that she isn’t allowed to stand up for herself when she is being wronged, or fighting for something she strongly believes in.
By telling your daughter to hold her tongue lest she comes across as being too aggressive, you’re teaching her that other people are allowed to walk all over her and have the final say — that she cannot be a leader because “nice girls” are not pushy.
Not your princess
Girls should not be treated like genteel maidens who are deemed useless if they don’t know how to cook, clean, sew, or take care of babies.
Girls are not damsels in distress who have to step aside for their male counterparts to do as they please and be able to get away with everything because apparently “boys will be boys“.
Girls don’t want to be seen as delicate flowers who are too weak and fragile to make a positive change in the world.
Instead of fussing over what your daughter wears that will make her look pretty or how she carries herself to be supposedly more ladylike, raise her to be body positive so she has the confidence to love herself and is happy with who she is.
Rather than shushing her when she’s trying to speak her mind or urging her to use a vocabulary that is deemed more ladylike, expose her to different experiences, cultures and lifestyles so she is more aware of the world around her and can use her voice and energy to make a difference.
You cannot expect your little girl to grow up to become independent and successful if you’ve instilled this feeling of shame about the way she looks, and make her second guess her own thoughts and capabilities.
Girls can be polite but not pushovers.
Girls can be mindful but not submissive.
Girls can be respectable but not docile.
Raise your daughter not to be more ladylike, but to become a strong and confident young woman with courage and compassion.
Let her uncross her legs and open her mouth before she can stand on her own two feet and speak up for herself.
Do you agree that we need to re-think our answer to the question “Should girls be ladylike?”Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!