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Under the bonnets of leading ladies

Pride and Predjudice

If you are anything like me you are quite partial to a chick-flick, or a sweeping historical romance novel full of passion and chivalry. Perhaps you love a period drama where the heroine wafts around in grand country houses entertaining herself with whimsical things like painting, reading and drinking tea with her girlfriends, all the while hoping to win the affection of some well-esteemed, handsome and mysterious gentleman.

Lady Mary, Jo March, Elizabeth Bennett, Natasha Rostova and even modern girls like Cher Horowitz and Bridget Jones are all women we can identify with. We each have our favourite romantic heroine.

These women all have something in common, they are shamelessly strong and sassy yet have this innate desire to be loved, “just as she is”. What stands out most is that while they make common mistakes, human errors and hilarious gaffes, they all remain very true to their feminine identities. They don’t fight against what makes them female. They want to be wooed, to play the feminine part in their relationships and they wish to find quality romances that will last forever.

Don’t you?

It is a fantasy that the majority of women buy into, however secretly, and is nothing to be ashamed of. I believe it is an inbuilt desire to be treated like a lady, an example so clearly set out in these movies and books. But why love it so, yet not want to nurture that possibility in real life?

After all, you were given the parts, so why dress it down in cleavage-baring polyester and ratchet up your “self-esteem” in six-inch stilettos? That is a pattern the world has set only in the past half a century. It is a very new and déclassé concept that we have to be sexy in order to win the hearts of men, or to gain popularity. Notoriety is now trampling all over propriety with ugly consequences.

Think about the things you are doing only because modern culture says so, and then ask yourself where you escape to in private? What movie heroine’s shoes would you step into if you had the choice? Which love story would you choose?

Are you writing your own romance novel or are you swept up in the script of society?

It’s a sad fact that so many of us have these fantasies and ideals, yet not many of us actually translate our passions and wishes into daily life. Gossiping about men with the girls over a Cosmo in a sweaty bar doesn’t quite have the same romantic air as genteel afternoon teas with appropriate conversation among good friends. Agreeing to hook-ups demanded over text message in place of a proper and traditional date leave us feeling just as flat. Where are the wildflower posies picked just for us, and romantic picnics with no expectation of getting anything more from us than our pleasant company for the afternoon? The time to allow a love to blossom and cherishing every moment. A woman’s heart should be wooed in order to be won, not simply gained because of a footballer’s salary, buff body, hipster beard or a flash car.

Do you choose time wasters on Tinder or romantic triumph?

Emma by Jane Austen

Underneath it all, do you not truly relate to these leading ladies because of their hope and desires? Things haven’t changed much in our hearts over the centuries, so why are we putting aside the daily romance and the enjoyment of living a feminine life?

Wake up the romantic inside of you!

I doubt there is a woman on this earth who wouldn’t wish for her romance to be played out like a charming Jane Austen love story. To be wooed with flowers, softly spoken words, love notes, candle lit suppers and to be treasured as the woman she is. Underneath it all, we want to be accepted, cherished and comfortable in our identity. To not feel under pressure to be perfect and manicured all the time, and at no risk of being cast aside for the next best thing in a body-con dress. We want people to see the beauty that lies under our skin, not what we plaster on top of it.

The problem is, we’ve spent so much time slating and attacking the opposite camp that we have lost our focus, spending time instead feeling bitter. Thus entirely forgetting our romantic ideals and sadly feeling less than confident to express our original feminine dreams. We have forgotten what it is that we need to nurture in order to truly shine. Standing out for the right reasons!

Call The Midwife

It goes without saying, we can do any job a man can, we are strong and equal in both character and wit, but have you been ignoring what it is that makes these heroines we wish to trade places with so endearing? When you look under the bonnet (excuse the pun), what standards and feminine qualities reside in the heroine’s heart?

Doctor Thorne - Mary

Why did they finally win the affections of great, romantic and upstanding men? The answer is, they didn’t settle! They didn’t trade themselves in for low quality men. Instead they defined themselves as high value women. They were ladies, and they knew what was expected of being considered a lady.

These ladies are thoroughly modern, capable, fun loving and smart - yet undeniably feminine. They are all willing to be vulnerable and stay in tune with their feminine energy and blessings despite what the world is telling them they should be. We hear so much about women’s equality issues and feminist movements that it has become somewhat shameful to want to indulge what actually sets us apart as women.

Ladies in bonnets

What about the girls who want to revel in feminine grace, charm, frills and fantasy? Who is shouting from the rooftops and giving these women a voice? Is romance and chivalry really dead? It may be dead on the streets, but certainly not in my heart.

Just fifty years ago, and throughout history, lots of young women were pulled aside in schools to be taught ladylike standards and ideals as a matter of course. They were given guidance and taught practical application on feminine dignity, polite behaviour, personal conduct and how to behave in society from a female perspective. A perspective, that despite what the world wants to tell you - is very different from a man’s. This practice stopped in the 1960s, and since then society’s expectations have shifted so dramatically that romance and social propriety have no common rule book. Societies work better when they play by the rules. Women can now go out to work, just like men, and are no longer expected to “just” look after the home (yet many still do both jobs). Women’s liberation is something we have “achieved”, yet we are still complaining when men no longer hold doors for us.

Isn’t it all such a confusion?

Mr Selfridge TV show

On one hand we say that men only ever think about one thing, and on the other how we are just like them. Really? Is that true? In case you missed the memo, we have different parts, and in a lot of ways, different hearts. So just as we can clearly see what separates a “bloke” from a gentleman, we should also be able to clearly distinguish between a “common woman” and a lady. Do we need to return to the rule book rather than throwing it in the fire altogether?

Where the world is telling you this attitude is sexist, I ask you this…

Do you really want to strip away all those beautiful nuances that make you feminine in order to impress the world? Or would you like to be loved, accepted, esteemed and feel comfortable as the girl you already are? You can do anything you want to do in life, but just because you are a girl doesn’t mean you should ignore your dreams of being a lady!

Romance and life lived as a lady is a delicate situation requiring great care and consideration, and if you want to find a life and love that will rival those stories set out in romantic literature you must first prepare yourself on the subjects they didn’t cover at school…

Ladies Like Us is available to buy now on Amazon.


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