When you think about an elegant woman, the first thing that comes to mind is her general appearance. An elegant woman is graceful and commands attention. When she steps into a room, your eyes immediately turn to her. She needs no introduction. You notice her self-confidence in the tone of her voice, her beauty in the way she dresses, and the way she carries herself.
It may sound like I am jealous of this woman; well, I am. No matter how much I try to work towards becoming this self-confident woman, I have found that I simply cannot be her. And I trust me; I have tried. So, what are the ingredients that make an elegant woman?
- An elegant woman is poised.
As a little girl, it was drilled into my mind that a woman is supposed to have a certain kind of poise. Every time I would climb a tree, I was commanded to find my way down immediately because it was improper for a woman or girl to be caught in trees. I was told it was inappropriate for a teenager to indulge in rough-and-tumble play with her older brothers. I am now a grown woman, and I am still constantly reminded of what I shouldn’t do.
“Don’t slouch, don’t walk like you’re throwing your body forward; subtlety is everything.”
- An elegant woman stands tall with confidence.
I am 5’7, tall for a girl! As a child, I was taller than most of my peers. I was also a big girl; I still am. My height and weight have long been points of self-criticism. I started to slouch as a child because my peers mercilessly teased me about my height. So when it comes to standing tall, I most likely will not.
- An elegant woman has oodles of self-esteem.
When the ideal woman was first presented to me, she did not look like me. I was too dark, too fat. I was not the right person. Because I couldn’t be this ideal, I was riddled with self-doubt and low esteem. While, thank heavens, that ideal has been scrapped to celebrate the different body types of women. I can say that this girl still had vestiges that were scared to step out of the shadows. That girl is very much still in the driver’s seat. An elegant woman does not let the world define her. She knows who she is, inherently. I allowed the world to define me a long time ago, and I am currently just learning to take up space.
- She Remains Polite, Always
See, the concept of politeness is something that I have always struggled with. While I remain polite with people who don’t know me, some might even call me aloof, and I am impolite with people who do not afford me the respect I deserve. Elegance calls for politeness even in the face of disrespect, but I cannot be polite to the people who do not consider me or see me. I imagine a lot of it is fighting back against a world that deemed me not ideal.
- She’s Well-Mannered
What are manners in the face of comfort? Why should I not belch loudly in appreciation of the person who has cooked the meal? Why should I sit like a lady when I can raise my legs on a chair and be comfortable? What are manners anyway? Are they not subjective?
- She’s Unapologetic About Herself
You can spot a confident woman when she walks into the room. A woman who is sure of herself is unapologetic about who she is. But because of my low self-esteem, I found myself apologizing for being who I was.
- She’s Independent.
The definition of an elegant woman has changed over the century. The idea of independence is pretty much a modern concept. If you asked a housewife in the 60s, she would tell you an elegant woman listened to her husband. Independence is an excellent concept in and of itself. No one wants to be accountable to anyone, but everyone wants to be taken care of. I do not want to worry about my bills at the end of the month. I like that #softlife.
- Her Posture is impeccable.
My posture is not perfect. At all. I predict I may have back issues when I get to my 40s.
- She Always Put Together.
An elegant woman is always so put together, not a hair out of place when you look at her. She sips wine or tea, and she doesn’t gulp. Things are not falling out of her purse. She knows where everything is. I gulp hot tea down. When I sip, it is deafening. I do not understand the basic rules of etiquette. A lot of the time, I will lose something in a reasonably shallow purse. I am messy, and I can’t seem to shake that no matter how much I try.
- She is Soft-Spoken But Firm.
I am loud. My whisper can be heard from across the room.
All of these things are the making an ‘ideal’ elegant woman, and I don’t know how to be this woman. She seems to be the antithesis of who I am. I have tried. But, maybe it’s okay that I can’t be her. Maybe elegance should not be defined by rules that leave out many of us messy girls. Maybe elegance should be subjective. Maybe we can all scream like Oprah, “You are elegant, you are elegant, everybody is elegaaaant!”
Maybe just existing in a world that refuses to see women as the diverse beings they are, is elegance. I am elegant. You are elegant.