What Makes A Lady?

I love this photo.

I think it’s true.

Although, I don’t think guys are off the hook from being a gentleman just because a girl isn’t acting like a lady.

But that’s not where I want to go with this.

Instead, I pose the following question: What makes a lady?

When creating a heroine, one has to consider a lot of different characteristics and traits. Let’s face it–not all of them are ladylike.

Other things we consider: We want our heroines to be strong. We want them to have the ability to overcome any obstacle.

At the same time, we want them to be vulnerable enough to be loved.

And I don’t think the “lady” is just for historical novels. No, no. I think creating a woman who is also a lady is very do-able in contemporary fiction.

But in our society, we tend to think “lady-likeness” is reserved for years gone by.

How can we do it better in contemporary novels?

Share with me: What does it mean to be a lady? Give an example of a fictional character OR someone in your life who was a great example of what it means to be a lady and why you think so.


Filed under Writing

15 responses to “What Makes A Lady?

  1. I’ve just finished Salt Bride by Lucinda Brant and One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare. In both I found that I really liked the heroines. Amelia and Jane weren’t the usual damsels in distress but rather had a strength of character that was endearing. I liked these ladies 🙂

  2. essenseofebony

    This is going to sound so cliche, but one of the finest ladies I know is my mom. She is kind but not a doormat, strong but still has a tenderness to her, devoted to God and her family, always willing to lend a helping hand, But then there are subtle little things too that show me what a lady she is as far as being demure and modest. Things like still wearing slips and hose depending on the dress, regardless of the temperature, because it’s lady like. I make it a point now to make sure when I attend church with her my dresses are sleeved and lined. So, to me a lady is someone who just has this little intangible in how she carries herself that sometimes can’t be defined, but you know it when you see it. Some of those women to me are:

    Sandra Bullock
    Reese Witherspoon
    Michelle Obama
    Faith Hill (I always thought she was prettier than Shania Twain, and appreciated that she kept her clothes on)

    And you Jenny are an example of a lady. I’m not sure if it’s my age or just the scars of my past relationship that have caused me to bristle slightly as I get older, and I take that to the occasional post or tweet, but knowing that you and I are friends, and I value your opinion of me so much, I try to tone it down because I admire how you can express your opinion without getting mean, vulgar or crude.

  3. When I think of a lady, I think of someone who is genteel and humble, honest and strong. My mom was all of these. I had a great example. Sometimes I feel too loud to be a lady, but I don’t think it has to do with volume. Is my loudness boisterous, or overly self-centered? Then I’m not being ladylike.

    I guess there is just something in a lady’s air that makes you sit up and take note and say, “THAT is a lady.”

    • Linds– You put into words my thoughts exactly. Sometimes I feel too “loud” to be a lady. My personality isn’t a quiet one. I’ve always wanted to be one of those women who’s soft spoken and sweet all the time. That is so, so not me. There are definitely times I don’t feel ladylike at all.

  4. I think true ladies set high standards for themselves and carry a deep inner confidence. A lady lives her life defined by her set of values, not by what culture or people around her are doing.

    • Ooooh. I LOVE this. Sometimes we think being a lady is all about how you “express” yourself. Being soft spoken, as I mentioned above. But really, it IS about a deep inner confidence. Especially if you carry that confidence in the Lord and let that shine through in how you treat others. Thanks for the comment, J!

  5. What a great topic! I think a certain amount of gracefulness helps – that and thinking of others in addition to yourself plus keeping calm in the midst of a storm. To me, those characteristics are ladylike.

  6. Hannah Joy

    Hi! I’m new on this blog, but I came across it and really like it. 🙂

    It’s funny that you bring this up, though, because it’s been on my mind. I am a teenager, so it seems like the “ladylike” standards for our generation is at an all time low–which is sad. What I find ladylike, and what I strive to be, is humble, submissive, always carrying myself with confidence, modesty, and beauty. And also being yourself–even if it means toning down a bit, you don’t have to be somebody else to be a lady. I am, unfortunately, not those things. It’s tough. But as for people I look up to (real people):

    Debi Pearl (she writes two books actually on the subject–Created to Be a Help Meet, which is for married women, and Preparing to Be a Help Meet, which is for single women and teenagers. They are for being the Help Meet you need to be for your man.)

    All the Pearl girls (Debi’s daughters)

    All the Brinley girls (they have a magazine called Daughterhood By Design that is wonderful for girls that are working towards being ladies)

    As for fictional characters:

    Arwen from the Lord of the Rings–the books, I mean. Obviously, she’s an elf, but I was always inspired by the way she carried herself, the way she waited patiently and gave up everything for her man, and the way she stayed at home instead of needing to be at his side.

    Marian from the BBC Robin Hood TV series–Yeah, I wouldn’t usually do movies or TV series, but I was really impressed by that Marian, especially as she was coming from a secular director to a secular audience–she could very well have been a sleezy, immodest character. She is her own spunky, do-it-yourself kind of person, but she also keeps her modesty and her views on what is right. She also loves–not just Robin, but the people. She does what’s right–she doesn’t just sit around and wait for her Prince Charming, though she does keep pure for him, if that makes sense.

    Sorry for the length of the comment! You really got me thinking. 🙂

    • Hannah, Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for your comment. It’s awesome that you, at a young age, are thinking about your future mate and aspiring to be a lady for him and those you love.

      I love that.

      I think you bring up some excellent examples. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Love the topic. It’s something I often ponder too. In my mind, a lady is someone who is compassionate, respectful (of herself and others), and strong (especially emotionally). Being soft-spoken or outspoke doesn’t matter nearly as much as what is spoken. Ladyhood encompasses all personalities. A lady comes in a thousand different varieties. And thank heavens for that.

    It’s interesting to me when definitions of ladyhood involve men. While a woman’s interactions with a man reveal a lot, being a lady isn’t centered on romance. A lady is a lady around a man or woman or child. It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t, anyway.

  8. Gabrielle Meyer

    I love being a lady! One thing I’m always conscious of while raising my daughters is teaching them to be ladylike. I don’t think it’s reserved for days gone by – we need ladies more now than ever! A lady can be loud and boisterous or quiet and genteel, but above all a lady is kind and gracious. She’s thoughtful and poised and comfortable in her own skin!

Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s