There are all sorts of theories on how to be a lady.
Ashley Judd plays a wonderful lady in the movie De-lovely
Two theories that stood out for me was that being a lady does not require wealth, though historically there were a larger proportion of ladies among the wealthy. The other one is an Southern Texan saying that it normally takes seven generations to make a lady.
Since one generation is equivalent to thirty to forty years, that means it would take over 200 years for anyone to become a lady!
Thankfully, with modern technology, libraries and video, we can draw upon them for examples and study.
It is my goal on elegantwoman.org to minimize the 200 time period, though I must admit that I understand why it might take seven generations to make a lady.
"Being a woman does not automatically make one a lady."
The quicker we understand this, the less hard we would be on ourselves when we make mistakes or etiquette boo-boos.
The key to understanding of learning to how to become a lady is this: Learn through reading, understanding, imitation, acting and get over your blunders as soon as possible.
Many women tell me they often feel fake, unnatural when they try to develop ladylike behaviour. Their friends also are unused to them, often commenting that they have become too formal.
When change happens, you'll often feel like everything is thrown off balance. You feel uncertain, may feel nervous and wobbly. That is simply the process of finding a new balance. Tweak it, adjust and you'll find the right balance as you change sooner than you think.
So many images are conjured in people's minds when they think about how to become a lady. Perhaps, they are thinking of Scarlett O'Hara in victorian times and feel that they must go back to the style of dress in order to look ladylike and elegant. Quite often celebrities and their movie/television characters are mimicked as reference points for ladylike behaviour due to their high visibility.
But being a lady is more than that. I believe it's best summarized by Candice Simpson, who wrote . Here is my paraphrased and abridged version:
Manners, attitudes, appropriate dress and social mores have changed so dramatically that the definition of being a lady has left everyone confused.
A lady by today's definition knows that educating herself in every way possible, from to the common sense manners, empowers her to become a woman of and . She knows it is not her dress size or the money she possess that brings her satisfaction in life.
A lady knows that beauty and wealth can be fleeting, but her inner character is the measure by which others will ultimately judge her as a person.
Her courtesies, the in which she holds herself and others, and her sincere words of praise and thoughtfulness will reflect her strong values and place her ahead in the minds and hearts of those who know her. Being thought of as a "lady" may be the one of the highest compliments a woman can receive in her life.
In the past, women from all socioeconomic backgrounds wanted to be thought of as ladies.
Peasant girls treasure a hand-me-down bonnet and wear them on special occasions or when they go to town. Other girls who were fortunate to be educated at home pride themselves in learning and made effort to remember their manners, read, write, draw, play the piano and sing, no matter how much money, connections or status they lack.
Servant girls served with dignity and tried their best to mimick the way ladies spoke and devoted their time to read by candlelight when their duties were over.
Wanting to be ladies in modern day
I know wanting to learn 'how to be a lady' in modern times may seem unnecessary and uncool. You might even get laughed at. Afterall, it is more fashionable to be like our modern day superstars, Katy Perry, Rihannaa, Fergie etc etc. Learning how to be a lady - the subject - itself sounds old fashioned and grandmotherish.
Call it what you like, but understanding the processes of how to be a lady is akin to pursuing a well-rounded education, as written extensively as anywhere on elegantwoman.org. It is the fruit of a studied life, which will produce greater happiness, fulfillment, purpose and influence, depending of course on what you would like out of this life.