My NaNa would have been considered old fashioned, even in her day. She believed there was a difference between a woman and a lady. Every lady was a woman, but not every woman was a lady.
She taught me many things about being respectful and respectable:
- How and when to stand – Good posture was a must (stand up straight, shoulders back, no slouching) and always stand when being introduced to elders or to give them your seat
- How to sit – We wore lots of dresses with starched petticoats in those days (sit up tall, back straight – I still don’t use the back of a chair, feet on the floor, and by all means knees together!)
- When to speak and when to be silent – Children/young adults were to be seen and not heard and only to speak when spoken to. If we had to speak, we never interrupted but waited to be recognized and always said “Excuse me”.
- How to address adults – We never called an older adult by his or her first name! That was considered the ultimate disrespect! If they were close to the family, they were either “Aunt” or “Uncle”. We could use their first name if it was preceded by “Miss” or “Mister”.
At the time there seemed to be too many rules, but they became a way of life – life in the South – and are sadly missed in these “anything goes” times we live in today.
Bottom line is if you want to be respected, you have to be respectable. And, try showing a little respect first!