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.