6 Rules of Being A 'Lady' I Break All the Time

Ladies summer hats on parade in the streets of suburban.
Ladies summer hats on parade in the streets of suburban.

I don't know if it's because I've lived in the deep South my entire life or if it's a generational thing. I do know that I was raised to "act like a lady" -- always. Good girls didn't say certain things or look a certain way. We didn't raise our voices or argue with authority figures, and we apologized -- a lot.

Blame it on the changing culture, where we're slowly refusing to be shamed for everything. Blame it on being tired, a mother of two, working from home, or having a don't-care attitude. But I'm over all the expectations of how I'm supposed to look and behave as a woman.

1. I'm not hiding my bra straps anymore. I'm sick and tired of pretending like I'm not wearing a bra. Camisoles, tank tops, and weird necklines -- they all need special bras. These days, it's comfort over style. Nude, red, black, yellow with blue stripes, whatever, they're probably showing. Just be glad I'm wearing one, because...

2. I rarely wear a bra these days. You want to know what's better than not caring if the straps show? Freeing the girls completely. Yes, my boobs move when I walk. No, they're not a few inches beneath my chin. And I like it that way. Hell, some people aren't even sure we need to wear bras anymore.

My mother is cringing and shaking her head as we speak. I may have my good girl card revoked.

3. Makeup isn't a requirement, either. When I wear it at all, I wear it for me. Don't like my bare face sans eyeliner, mascara, blush, powder, foundation, primer, and lip gloss? Don't look at me. I live in the South, where 1,000 percent humidity is the norm. I'm too old, too cranky, and (maybe) too liberated to enjoy the feeling of melted makeup running down my face.

4. A ponytail is a perfectly acceptable hairdo. The last time I used my hair dryer, I thought something was on fire. The smell of burning dust does that. My hairspray, mousse, gel, and other assorted products have probably gone bad, but I can't tell because dust bunnies swarmed the bottles and had babies all over them. I barely know how to brush my hair and pull it out of my face, and I'm OK with that. (Side note: I will, however, dye the gray and silver away.)

5. Sorry, not sorry. For years, I apologized for everything. You tripped over your shoelaces? I'm sorry. You're exhausted because you stayed up too late bingeing on Netflix? I'm sorry. Sure, some of it is empathy, but the day I apologized to my kitchen table for bumping into it, I knew something had to give. If it's my fault, I'm sorry. Otherwise, I'm not apologizing.

6. Yes, I'll probably drop a few f-bombs. For the record, I try to make sure no children are around before I let my inner sailor go. No "good girl" is supposed to say certain words, and I have gotten the evil eye a few times from an overly enthusiastic "F$%&" -- but sometimes, it's needed. I call them sentence enhancers. Oh, and I'm not afraid of the "C" word or "mother-f&%$#!," either.

I sound like a hot mess to some, and that's fine. Part of giving up all the "good girl rules" hammered into me as a kid means not caring what other people think of me. I know when to put on a bra and clean up my language. My mama raised me right, even if I choose to ignore it now.

Here's the deal. I don't judge anyone who wants to follow the rules, do what's expected, dress to impress, and all the rest. Good for you. Do what makes you happy and gives you confidence. Go for it.

But I'm holding a one-woman rebellion against the small societal pressures that make me craziest. I choose to define myself by how I interact with the world and how I treat people. The rest is window dressing, and it's one I don't want to wear anymore.


This story by Michaela Mitchell first appeared at ravishly.com, an alternative news+culture women's website.

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