Last summer I wrote a post called Buckaroo Barbie Revolution, which was in its most simple form, a call to arms to fellow cowboy-girls. It spoke of encouraging and uplifting one another, of setting an example for the change we want to see in the world around us. And it rather sheepishly admitted that I want to be a lady. I’m red in the face just writing this and I’m alone! For the past few months I’ve been wondering: what does it mean in today’s world to be a lady? And why is it important for us as cowboy-girls? *
*In writing this, I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. I can be the most unladylike of women, and I will be the very first to admit it.
I can’t get better or grow unless I look to the future and the woman I want to be though, rather than tripping over my past.
What does the term, “She’s a lady” make you think of? Does it induce archaic images of women in long skirts, pulling freshly baked cookies out of an oven all the while asking in a voice that sounds like ringing bells if you’d care for some tea? Or does it bring to mind young Southern debutantes, floating down a grand staircase on the gloved arm of an escort, about to be presented to society?
The term lady, or ladylike, is pretty much absent from today’s vocabulary, unless of course it is directed towards some poor girl as a snide insult. Being a lady today is almost as damnable as being a stay-at-home-mom. You’re decried as a priss or a prude if you’re labeled a lady.
Long ago, a lady was a woman who went to church regularly, kept her house clean (if your windows were “smutty” you were labeled a slattern), and was properly educated in the arts.
What Does It Mean To Be A Lady When You’re A Cowboy?
Obviously, no one is going to call you a slut these days if your windows are streaky. And if they do, I hope you kick them in the shins. So, what does it mean today to be a lady? And why is it important for us, specifically as cowboy-girls to act lady-like? I mean, if we’re surrounded by cattle, cowboys and dirt all day long, how is being lady-like going to affect our environment, and ultimately make the world a better place?
First, let’s define what a lady actually is:
Being a lady, I think, means having the class and skills to survive in any given situation and make the people around you feel comfortable.
At the core of it all, that’s what it’s about…other people and focusing on them.
That can translate two ways: attending a state dinner and having the skills to dress and act appropriately so that the people around you aren’t uncomfortable by your lack of class….AND….. knowing when to break the rules of what is “proper and polite” to make someone else feel comfortable if they’re out of their element.
If you cowboy with a bunch of men, YOU have completely changed the tenor of the whole day for everyone else on the crew, simply by being present and female. Because of that (well, and because you’re a girl and cowboys like girls) everyone is going to be examining your every action and word.
No pressure, right? Right. So how do we translate being a lady into our every day lives of being a cowboy-girl?
Don’t try to be one of the guys. As Lori Campbell so beautifully said in an interview here on Buckaroo Barbie, “Aim to be a lady that’s respected in your trade. Forget about trying to be ‘just one of the guys.’ You can’t beat a man at being a man.”
Keep your shirt buttoned. You know, like high enough that it’s not tempting for the guys on the crew to sneak a peak down your shirt. Men are visual creatures, so if the twins are out there bouncing around, it’s going to be really hard for them to focus on anything other than, well, the twins. You want them to respect you as a cowboy, not the curvature of your breasts. Dress as sexily as you want at home alone with your man, that’s a different deal, but at work the goal isn’t to look hot.
Don’t talk about sex with the guys on the crew. The guys are gonna talk girls, what they think is sexy, who they’re chasing and that’s OK. But don’t discuss sex or anything that you’d be uncomfortable talking about with your dad with the guys. It helps put up boundaries right off the bat.
Don’t take any crap, just do it nicely. Being a lady doesn’t mean you’re a doormat. If someone is rude or inappropriate to you, stand up for yourself!! I had a guy one time flip me off when we were gathering, and tell me I could sit on it. I haven’t been that mad in a long time. I wanted to rope him off his horse all the while telling him to “F” off, but instead I quietly said that he was super classy (heavy on the sarcasm), and I wasn’t laughing. After that, I didn’t have any problems with him.
So being a lady does not translate as to pursing your lips every time someone cracks a really nasty joke, or daintily tiptoeing through the mud or looking away in disgust every time a bull breeds a cow. It means you treat yourself and the people around you with respect and courtesy, and really, what’s so bad about that?
What Is The Point?
The point is: unless I truly understand why being a lady is relevant today, the change I want to see in myself, I won’t be able to influence serious change around me. I’ll just blunder blindly along, hoping that somewhere along the way I get it right. Without some clear definition of what I’m hoping to achieve, I might as well go trail running at night without a headlamp. And for any of you who know how incredibly graceful I can be, this is a terrible and possibly life threatening idea. No point at all.
Being a lady translates in the little, mundane, everyday occurrences around us. The seemingly insignificant jokes we laugh at, how we dress, and how we make the people around us feel. Being a lady or being lady-like does not mean that we are no longer sexy, intelligent, or all of a sudden lack common sense. On the contrary, use those qualities to your advantage girls! Just use them with class. Being a lady will only add to your life, not subtract from it.
If we stop and ask ourselves first, “Does this better the people around me? Will this make someone uncomfortable?” I think we stand a good chance at making the term
lady-like cool once again.
xo xo Liz