Ladypersons

The first woman to use this term was my colleague Carrol, referring to someone we worked with. It was meant as a compliment, and I apply the term that way to this day.

The ladyperson is a bit proper, but not stuffy. She will never give you too much information about herself, nor does she gossip. She blushes at off-colour jokes, but laughs.
A ladyperson does not find it necessary to use profanity or obscenity. She does not scold those who do; she just ignores the language.

She does not go to see blow-'em-up movies. She tends to enjoy symphonic music, commemorative ceremonies, outdoor markets, gardening, human-rights causes, and participation in her faith community or neighbouhood initiatives. She gives blood.


You may know a single ladyperson for years and learn only a few details of her personal life. And she does have one- it's just that she is highly private. Any romantic encounters will her business alone, and often disclosed only if there is an impending marriage. A married ladyperson may share family news, but focuses on the positive. She does not do girls' weekends in Vegas.


She is classic in her personal taste: twin sets, lower heels, matched suits. Sexy for the ladyperson is a sleeveless dress. Sometimes a ladyperson has one nonconformist signature; a bold white streak in her hair, a love of dramatic capes. But her signature isn't trendy; ladypersons never got a tattoo or multiple ear-piercings. They did not do anything to their bodies
then to be sorry about now.

S
he may have an eccentric interest: one of my ladypersons just got her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. This slip of a woman in pearls can hurl you to the next town.

I know six ladypersons; four are WASPs, one is Japanese-Canadian, and one Ukranian-Canadian, so I'm reluctant to say there is a single culture that produces ladypersons. It seems more a personality, a way of being in the world.


Many ladypersons are introverts and do not appeciate being urged to "loosen up"; I no longer wonder what it would take for them to order a few rounds of tequila shooters and duckwalk to Chuck Berry in a dive bar. They are my oases of calm, my deep, dependable and lovely friends.

I declare April 2
Ladyperson Day. The perfect foil for April 1st Fools, a day later, they smile serenely and sail on, graceful, generous and spirited, in a discreet way.

19 comments

Imogen Lamport said...

Ahhhh, I'll never be a ladyperson!

I think they're more likely from a generation that is a few away from mine.

Is this the end of the ladyperson?

sallymandy said...

What a lovely tribute to the ladypersons of the world! I love this, and thank you. We do need a day for celebrating tastefulness, decorum, restraint...

I used a four-letter word (actually it was three letters but you get the idea) on my blog in frustration the other night, and woke up the next day and deleted it. Not that I'm a ladyperson per se, but I do appreciate all these attributes you've described, and I think it's worth while to aim in that direction.

sarahn said...

A ladyperson is what I want to be when I grow up (I'm 33). Thank you for providing a guide! Can I still wear high heels? :)

It's probably not ladyperson-like to point this out, but the link on your page to The Sartorialist does not work.

Frugal Scholar said...

I chatter way too much when I'm nervous--much of the time. I wish I had the ladyperson's reserve.

Duchesse said...

sarahn: Thanks for heads-up re Sartorialist; i have checked link, it is correct so I am wondering if there is another problem. (If you search it you will find the blog.) Yes, you can certainly wear high heels!

sallymandy: I once heard a ladyperson once use foul language and you can't imagine the impact!

Imogen: If you seek you will find them.

materfamilias said...

After much pondering, I can think of one or two possible candidates, and even in those cases, I can think of disqualifying moments. . . perhaps my own non-ladylike behaviour steers them away?

Mardel said...

I do know a couple of ladypersons, I don't think it is generational but a question of temperament.

bonnie-ann black said...

what a nice idea. my favorite aunt is a "ladyperson" of the first degree. and a more supportive, loving and warm individual it would be hard to find. i'm going to send her a card right now.

Imogen Lamport said...

my great aunt is a ladyperson, but in 30 years time will this breed of woman have died out?

Allegra said...

What a charming thought and so right-on! It used to be fascinating to observe edgy, outre people but now that it's the norm I've become bored with edginess. It's now edgy to be deliberate, controlled, smart and calm. Like Barack Obama!!!

Julianne said...

What a great post. My mother was the epitome of a ladyperson. Sometimes I didn't understand her, but I miss her so.

Duchesse said...

Imogen,Mardel,Julianne and Bonnie-Ann: What lovely reminisences of mothers, aunts, great-aunts, thank you!

Perhaps like so many species, the ladyperson has not died out, but if we cultivate and cherish her, she will continue to flourish in little crannies of this frantic life.

Allegra: Edgy is the opposite, yes! And has its appeal, but edgy is so easily noticed!

lagatta à montréal said...

In some ways I'm a ladyperson, in others not at all. A bit too boho in tastes and dress, but not loud or edgy.

April 2nd is Daffodil Day (Jour des Jonquilles in French) and I cycled to a Greek grocery where there is good sheep's and ewe's milk cheese - It was a beautiful warm sunny day and on the sidewalk in front of the store there was a ladyperson selling daffodils for cancer research.

DawnB said...

I think I may qualify as a Ladyperson, not as bragging, but just to say that your description actually hit more targets in my life than any other. When I see this description all in one place I don't see these things as negative, just the way it is. Any ONE descriptive statement would seem negative, but on the whole I think I now can see a better picture of me. Thanks for the pearls of wisdom that I think I can wear more comfortable than before.

Duchesse said...

DawnB: I did not intend any one statement as negative, quite the opposite- I so enjoy and am grateful to my ladypersons. If you relate tho these characteristics, you have my fond admiration.

Deja Pseu said...

My paternal grandmother was definitely a Ladyperson. I aspire to be one someday.

DawnB said...

Duchess, Oops, my post made it sound as if I considered your description negative; quite the contrary. You had a wonderful description of many things about myself that, until I saw your Ladyperson defination, I at times thought were negative characteristics. The thing that doesn't apply to myself is the classic dress, but the other things do. I appreciated your description and I do now see these as positive ... thank you!

Anonymous said...

My mother raised me to be a ladyperson, and the women of her side of the family certainly were. I rebelled in my youth, but am striving to revert back to my roots now that I'm in that certain decade (it takes practice!). Thank you for expressing what a ladyperson is so very well.

Duchesse said...

Anonymous: They might rebel, but the pull is inexorable if one is meant to be a ladyperson. The behaviours usually return in ones' late twenties or early thirties, though can certainly be rediscovered later.