H&M challenges the infamous statement: “Act Like a Lady”

Throughout the ages the concept of “acting like a lady” has changed in many ways and today it could be said that it exists on a spectrum. Women are forced to act a certain way and wear certain clothing otherwise they may be considered rude and “unlady-like.” The idea of what it means to be a lady is expressed in the Keywords Essay ‘Girlhood’, in “Little House on the Prairie”, and is very deliberately challenged in one of H&M’s new ad campaign, “She’s A Lady.”

In the Keywords Essay, ‘Girlhood’, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh speaks about how the notion of girlhood can be expressed in many different ways. However, she writes about how traditionally, girlhood was often associated with the domestic and motherly roles. While talking about looking through a historical lens at the importance of material culture and girlhood, Reid-Walsh speaks of, “the importance of girls’ toys to teach the player how to become conventionally feminine in appearance and behavior.” In Little House on the Prairie, there are many indications of how the perception of acting like a lady was expressed in context with the time period. Many of these examples have to do with using proper manners such as when Ma says to Laura, “You must mind your manners, even if we are a hundred miles from anywhere” (40) and “Don’t speak with your mouth full, Laura” (46). Both of these examples show the importance of manners and staying within the boundaries of acting like a lady.

In light of the more recent feminist movements happening throughout the nation, H&M decided to make an entire ad campaign dedicated to challenging typical gender roles and what it means to “act like a lady.” The ad shows women of all races and physical appearances existing however they choose to and loving it. The song “She’s A Lady”, by Lion Babe is playing in the background to clearly mock the use of the phrase. This ad shows how in today’s culture, being a ‘lady’ has much more to do with confidence in yourself and a lot less to do with what others believe that you should be doing as a lady, which challenges historical gender stereotypes such as those seen in the Keywords Essay and Little House on the Prairie.



5 thoughts on “H&M challenges the infamous statement: “Act Like a Lady””

  1. Leanna, I remember the first time that I watched this commercial I was left speechless, in the absolute best way possible. Not only do I love shopping at H&M, but after seeing this commercial I thought that the marketing strategy was amazing. The inclusive nature is incredibly empowering for so many who identify as women. I love it!! Great post.

  2. Usually the first people you seeing defying gender roles are the big companies that create the typical clothing for each gender. Fashion designers and other brands create the norms of what the two genders are supposed to be wearing. In this commercial, and it seems like in their autumn collection, they’re trying to introduce more non-gendered clothing. From what I saw, it looked as if there was one model wearing a suit, complete with a button up and suspenders. In today’s media, usually seeing these kids of outfits on models and in popular stores, it reinforces the fact that today’s generation of women don’t care about what others think of them. If they see someone famous wearing a pantsuit, it’s okay and cool for them to wear one if they want to now too.

  3. Reading this post was the first time I had heard about this ad, and I must say I think this is amazing. I feel like H&M thought of everything in this ad and didn’t hold back. They covered the behavior of a “lady” from not shaving, to eating unhealthy, to dancing silly. They covered what a “lady” looks like from skin colors, to hairstyle to clothing. They even covered what occupation a “lady” has from a professional business woman to a singer. This ad left me feeling like no matter what I do, look like, or become in my career that I will still be happily included in the world’s powerful group of “ladies.” Thank you for this post!

  4. I love this ad!! From the different types of “ladies” being portrayed, to the song chosen it definitely puts into perspective what we think of when we think of a woman. Fashion is a way to express ourselves without the limitations of gender or stereotypes and I think that this ad embodies that you are free to wear what you want, eat what you want and be who you want to be.

  5. Fashion plays an important part in a girls identity. Often times people dress in similar ways to the people they look up to, which is often celebrities. Large companies like H&M have a huge influence in our culture and in the ways we dress. By H&M making this commercial challenging typical stereotypes regarding clothing, I hope more companies follow in a similar way. They are promoting the idea that clothing doesn’t have to be gendered and that children can wear whatever they want.

Leave a Reply