“A ‘lady’ is a woman who, through her mere presence, simultaneously commands power while setting others at ease.” – Emily Marie Williams
I achieved public womanhood on 14 July 2015 when I declared myself a woman before a judge and started living full-time as one. But as discussed several times on this blog, I work consistently to develop my personal concept of “lady” (a concept distinct from “woman”), and labor to assimilate this concept’s traits into my core being. (Check out the “See Also” section at the end of this post for links to my previous writings on the subject, which illustrate my progress through this exercise).
Today I experienced a breakthrough in this concept’s development, upon writing the following letter to my mom. I quoted the key innovation at the introduction to this post:
I have discovered that when I dress simultaneously classy, elegant, and ladylike; and move with casual grace while wearing heels, strangers take me more seriously. They step out of the way in stores. They open doors for me more frequently. They resolve conflicts with me more effectively.
Of course, it helps that I smile at and make eye contact with everyone I pass, and that I’m tall. And that I’m confident in my skin. Somehow I’ve discovered how to command power while simultaneously setting people at ease.
I think that last sentence is the essence of the “ladylike” concept I am striving to create for myself. I now have a vision that fits my feminist ethos and still matches my extremely gendered ideas about class.
Recently concluded that my days proceed more effectively, both in my mind and out in society, when I dress sharply.
Here is what I was wearing when I figured this out, what earned me the respect from strangers I received today that enabled me to put the pieces together: