I was imagining some situations of the days gone by, and started thinking about the changes that appeared in this past decades. I'm writing about us, the Women of the world; and our emancipation. It's an ongoing process, and yet: a very touchy subject.. since we seem to bounce up and down with what we would like to be perceived versus what we offer to the one who perceives us.
So, yet again, I have reached out to Emily Post; and found the answer to my riddle in her book: "Etiquette in society, in business, in politics and at home"
In older days and until a comparatively short while ago, a young girl's social success was invariably measured by her popularity in a ballroom. It was the girl who had the most partners, who least frequently sat "against the wall," who carried home the greatest quantity of the baubles known as "favors," who was that evening's and usually the season's belle.
The day of the belle is past; beaux belong to the past too. To-day is the day of woman's equality with man, and if in proving her equality she has come down from a pedestal, her pedestal was perhaps a theatrical "property" at best and not to be compared for solid satisfaction with the level ground of the entirely real position she now occupies.
And since the day of femininity that is purely ornamental and utterly useless is gone by, it is the girl who does things well who finds life full of interests and of friends and of happiness. The old idea also has passed that measures a girl's popular success by the number of trousered figures around her. It is quality, not quantity, that counts; and the girl who surrounds herself with indiscriminate and possibly "cheap" youths does not excite the envy but the derision of beholders. To the highest type of young girl to-day it makes very little difference whether, in the inevitable "group" in which she is perpetually to be found, there are more men than girls or the opposite.
This does not mean that human nature has changed—scarcely! There always are and doubtless always will be any number of women to whom admiration and flirtation is the very breath of their nostrils, who love to parade a beau just as they love to parade a new dress. But the tendencies of the time do not encourage the flirtatious attitude. It is not considered a triumph to have many love affairs, but rather an evidence of stupidity and bad taste.
Whispering is always rude. Whispering and giggling at the same time have no place in good society. Everything that shows lack of courtesy toward others is rude.
If you would be thought a person of refinement, don't nudge or pat or finger people. Don't hold hands or walk arm-about-waist in public. Never put your hand on a man, except in dancing and in taking his arm if he is usher at a wedding or your partner for dinner or supper. Don't allow anyone to paw you. Don't hang on anyone for support, and don't stand or walk with your chest held in, and your hips forward, in imitation of a reversed letter S.
Don't talk or laugh loud enough to attract attention, and on no account force yourself to laugh. Nothing is flatter than laughter that is lacking in mirth. If you only laugh because something is irresistibly funny, the chances are your laugh will be irresistible too. In the same way a smile should be spontaneous, because you feel happy and pleasant; nothing has less allure than a mechanical grimace, as though you were trying to imitate a tooth-paste advertisement.
Don't think that because you have a pretty face, you need neither brains nor manners. Don't think that you can be rude to anyone and escape being disliked for it.
Instead of depending upon beauty, upon sex-appeal, the young girl who is "the success of to-day" depends chiefly upon her actual character and disposition. It is not even so necessary to do something well as to refrain from doing things badly. If she is not good at sports, or games, or dancing, then she must find out what she is good at and do that! If she is good for nothing but to look in the glass and put rouge on her lips and powder her nose and pat her hair, life is going to be a pretty dreary affair. In other days beauty was worshiped for itself alone, and it has votaries of sorts to-day. But the best type of modern youth does not care for beauty, as his father did; in fact, he doesn't care a bit for it, if it has nothing to "go with it," any more than he cares for butter with no bread to spread it on. Beauty and wit, and heart, and other qualifications or attributes is another matter altogether.
A gift of more value than beauty, is charm, which in a measure is another word for sympathy, or the power to put yourself in the place of others; to be interested in whatever interests them, so as to be pleasing to them, if possible, but not to occupy your thoughts in futilely wondering what they think about you.
The final words:
Would you know the secret of popularity? It is unconsciousness of self, altruistic interest, and inward kindliness, outwardly expressed in good manners.
Emily Post seem to have done it again. In this chapter of her book (that I dared sharing with you) she has introduced us and/or reminded us of some issues we are to remember - next time I start turning a smirk into a loud giggle, I'll surely stop myself and consider the fact that, as funny as something might be - not everyone in the room needs to be stunned by my laugh.
(all the images in this post are from Pepsi Cola ads, and: yes, I did erased the gents from some of them, in order to emphasize the ladies) :)
Was this an answer to any of your questions?
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