“Be a lady, they said”.
“You skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low”.
“Don’t be a temptress”.
“Don’t go out at night. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.”
“Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down.”
“Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down.”
“Be a lady, they said”
All of these statements heard too often and addressed too seldom.
These excerpts were taken from a short film that was published in Girls. Girls Girls. magazine with Cynthia Nixon, former actor of Sex and the City, as the annotator of this powerful film. Cynthia narrated the short film which was derived by a blog written by Camille Rainville in 2017, titled “Be A Lady They Said”.
The blog and proceeding film confronts a wide array of accusations and clashing ideas that are presented about women, from the way a women dresses, expresses, nourishes and resembles. It is a skewed and contradicting compilation of the do’s and don’ts, like a survival guide, expected of women in modern-day society.
It addresses how women bodies are analysed and presented in media, such as how women make the headlines of tabloids for gaining too much weight or looking too thin. Lyrics such as, “Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress.”, emphasise the external pressure that women face to appear a certain way.
The blog then prompts another discussion: victim blaming. Lyrics such as, “Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it.”, addresses the thoughts that spur into a women’s mind when going out and how women may be a partially or fully accountable for the horrid acts that could befall upon them.
The film, which was uploaded on Vimeo, has been watched more than two million times and has received praise on Twitter and other forms of social media for addressing statements and scrutinisation of women.
Petter, Olivia. “Cynthia Nixon Praised for Powerful 'Be a Lady' Video about Impossible Standards for Women.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 20 Feb. 2020, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/women/cynthia-nixon-be-lady-video-they-say-girls-magazine-feminism-a9359611.html?fbclid=IwAR1IrpC-JMlX1xBdhq8RZrAZubcFnMEAsVhWDY2wDVBtkMgX7zo2VtPqthc.
Rainville, Camille. “Be A Lady They Said.” Writings of a Furious Woman, Dec. 2017, writingsofafuriouswoman.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/be-a-lady-they-said/.