39 Steps to Being a Lady


First there was this stellar piece of journalism in Country Life. Then someone at the Guardian thought they’d “fill in the gaps” and presented us with this equally helpful piece. Since apparently anyone who wants can now define for roughly three and a half billion women what specifically they need to do to “be a lady,” I thought I’d give this inclusive, unifying, and not at all judgy task a shot.

Now, be warned – I do adhere to many old-fashioned standards when it comes to etiquette and beauty, so you may find this list rather stodgy and difficult to manage. But I assure you that if you follow these 39 rules, you will almost certainly be considered a lady.

A lady:

  1. Self-identifies as a lady (I do have to give Chelsea credit for the wording on this one).
  2. Asks herself: am I a lady? If yes, move on.
  3. Stops worrying so much about whether or not she is a lady. Or worry, if it makes you feel better. Honestly it’s your call.
  4. Eats lots of veggies. Or lots of junk food. Or lots of meat. It’s your diet, do as you like.
  5. Wears only designer cosmetics. Or drugstore cosmetics. Or Mary Kay. Or hell, doesn’t wear cosmetics, maybe you don’t like them or are allergic to them. Still a lady.
  6. Gets regular manicures and pedicures, unless she can’t afford them, or she doesn’t live somewhere where they have a salon nearby, or her job doesn’t really allow for fancy hands, or she just doesn’t like people touching her. Then don’t, and it’s fine.
  7. Knows how to say some useful phrases in other languages. Or doesn’t because she has never had the time or inclination to learn them or she’s not good at language arts.
  8. Greets animals any damned way she wants, whether it’s by ignoring them because she doesn’t like them or by baby talking to them. Refer to 1 for clarification.
  9. Knows how to cook. And bake. Or you know maybe doesn’t or doesn’t enjoy those things and that’s cool because a woman’s place was in the kitchen in 1878 and it’s now 2015.
  10. Does or does not make a fuss over splitting a tab based on the fact that she ate/drank less than her dinner companions because fair is fair and a budget is a budget and it’s up to every lady to decide for herself whether or not she wants to pay for someone else’s beef wellington and 4 martinis.
  11. Buys her underwear wherever is convenient for her, in whatever size and type she finds comfortable, and either likes to fancy it up once in awhile or not depending on her own definition of sexy and whether or not she even feels the need to impress anyone. Or maybe she doesn’t even wear underwear.
  12. Uses whatever phrases and expressions she damned well pleases. And also curses or does not curse depending on her mood and temperament. (But maybe tries to curb cursing in front of her friends’ kids, please?)
  13. Goes to and hosts parties at her own discretion because maybe she doesn’t like hosting or maybe she is an introvert or has social anxiety.
  14. ALWAYS either splits the bill, pays her share, covers the bill, or allows herself to be treated. No wiggle room here. Unless she chooses to do a dine and dash, which, okay, not advisable, but still a lady.
  15. Excels at sex or doesn’t like sex or is celibate or just thinks sex is okay or only has sex once in awhile or…
  16. Drinks alcohol. Or abstains from alcohol if that is her preference.
  17. Wears whatever damned shoes she wants because it’s up to her if she wants to wear heels or sneakers on her lady feet.
  18. Shaves her entire body, shaves certain parts of her body, or goes au naturelle. Or waxes or sugars or gets laser treatments or doesn’t.
  19. Does not watch sports because that is a man’s hobby. Or does because screw that, women can like sports too. And also play them.
  20. Doesn’t sweat, she glows. Except when it’s humid, or she’s been exercising, or doing manual labor, or having crazy sex, or she’s menopausal. Or she’s just naturally sweaty.
  21. I’m running out of steam here.
  22. Just go back up to one.
  23. Read it a few more times.
  24. Again.
  25. Or don’t, you don’t have to do what I tell you.
  26. Oh, you didn’t realize that?
  27. You don’t even have to finish reading this list if you don’t want to.
  28. I am a lady, but guess what?
  29. I don’t have any say over whether you are or not.
  31. So know this: a list cannot tell you how to be a lady.
  32. A stupid writer who doesn’t know you or your life cannot tell you how to be a lady.
  33. Or a woman.
  34. Or a girl.
  35. Or a grrrl.
  36. YOU tell the WORLD. By your attitude, and your choices, and your total badassness.
  37. So you tell me.
  38. Are you a lady?
  39. Fuck yes, you are.

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