Am I Ladylike? Lucy Vine Asks Herself What It All Means

What Does 'Ladylike' Even Mean? Lucy Vine Investigates

princess charlotte, ladylike, prince william

by Lucy Vine |
Published on

Oh Prince William. Will. Wills. Willy. Wee Willy Winky.

I feel like I’ve grown up with you. You’re like the big brother I already have two of. You and I have gone through so much together that you didn’t have any involvement with, and I really like you a lot. I don’t even mind about the hairline. You’re cool.

But I am a bit weirded out by your comments last week.

At an event to open an archive centre at St John’s College (no idea, I copied that from the internet, I don’t know what it means), Wills is said to have told a professor that his young son, George, is ‘very lively’, while his five-month-old daughter, Charlotte is ‘ladylike’.

My first reaction was to laugh because that is mega ridiculous. It’s funny. The idea that a five-month-old, who throws up into people’s hair and wipes snot onto furniture and poos into a nappy and then sometimes puts her hand into that nappy (I have nieces) could be described as* ladylike*, is beyond hilarious.

But it’s also not that funny, because it’s sad. It’s sad that we still think like this. That we have to divvy up our boys and our girls in this way. So that our young prince will grow up to have fun and be whoever the little dude wants to be (as long as that is ‘a royal prince’) and Charlotte will feel like she has to be good and polite and ladylike - that is sad.

Because what does ladylike even mean? I mean, I’m technically like a lady, because I have anatomical parts that a vast, vast, vast number of people can attest to (hashtaglegend). So I am lady-like. But I think the fact that I just typed that sentence also precludes me from being ladylike. It probably also doesn’t mean using the eff word in your opener, and then having an argument with the editor about whether that is appropriate [ED: stop going on about this].

Google says ladylike means ‘appropriate for or typical of a well-bred, decorous woman or girl.’ Synonyms include ‘genteel’, ‘polished’, ‘refined’ ‘decorous’ and ‘seemly’. All very exciting words that we definitely still use all the time and don’t in any way seem out of place in 2015.

We need to watch how we use our language. We need to stop expecting our women to be sweet and gentle and kind and smile when some idiot on the street shouts that we should. We need to stop teaching our girls that they must be those things to get on in the world. We need our parents – and our well-intentioned future king – to teach their girls and boys that they can both be anything they want and they can be in it together. They can both be lively, they can even both be ladylike if they want.

I’ve written ladylike too much and it’s gone weird.

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