2015-08-18 06:00

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“Act like a lady.”

It’s a refrain every woman has heard at least once in her life.

So often uttered by our mothers, grandmothers and many patriarchs, the outdated refrain has done nothing but add unrealistic expectations onto women’s roles.

Recently, social media outcry was sparked by a Women’s Day advert by Bic, which called on women to “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a boss”.

Women are told to think a certain way, to look a certain way and, most importantly, to behave a certain way.

All while holding down jobs, running homes and caring for families. They are expected to look young and fit, showing no signs of the children they have given birth to or the tragedy they may have experienced. There is no space for wrinkles, whether from frowning or smiling.

Women have to talk a certain way and dress a certain way.

It’s an expression that tells women to behave within limitations. It tells women to pretend to be something they may not be. It forces women to sacrifice their uniqueness to fit into a preconceived mould.

And often, to be these things, women must metaphorically chop off parts of themselves to fit the cast.

Loud, passionate, determined, expressive, protective women are forced to act demurely and submissively.

It is past the time we start to move away from imposing outdated rules on how women look and behave. Shouldn’t we honour strength and individuality in our women, rather than asking them to conform?

Those strong, passionate women are the ones who shape the world – surely we should be encouraging our girls to grow in that direction?

Forget being a lady.

Being yourself will do you more favours

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