Oh, That’s…Classy

Ladies, as any reader of TSM knows, the sorority woman strives to be classy. Unfortunately, I have seen the word being used completely incorrectly. If there were a person whose only experience with the word was via TSM, he or she would define it as: 1. Consistently acting in a manner directed by fear of judgment. 2. Used to issue judgment against another female. Consistently in the comments, any time the word “classy” comes up, it is being used sarcastically to imply that one miniscule portion of some person’s life is beneath your rigid standards of conduct, and you are somehow qualified to deem them unworthy of the cherished word. I thought I might offer a little lesson in proper word choice and contest it to the community.

Here is my stance: I have never called myself a classy lady. I firmly believe that our years in college provide us time to be young and irresponsible. When we face the real world and have careers and families, we will have overdosed on crazy partying and it will only appeal to us once in a blue moon…some refer to this as “maturity.” Obviously, wild nights should not dominate your life, but in our youth (and ONLY in our youth) we get a pass for occasionally failing to “behave in the manner our breeding would require” (yes, that is a direct quote from a relative), so I say we can be classy (all the time) in our 30s. The girls who somehow can’t accept another person making a decision in her life, (which does not directly affect them), and then choose to utilize their time by degrading these women, are the ones who obviously do not understand class.

Now, what do I believe the definition of a classy woman is? As I casually read through the memoirs and letters of some of my favorite historical figures this morning, I came upon Robert E. Lee’s descriptions of his wife:

“Very domestic in her tastes and habits, and of unconquerable industry, she would paint, knit, sew, write, or entertain her friends, and was an earnest worker for all of the interests of her Church and a liberal contributor to every charity that presented itself. Notes for her extraordinary common sense and sound judgement-thoroughly sophisticated and very accomplished- fond of reading, and remarkably well read in general literature-a fine conversationalist and a most genial, pleasant entertainer- in a word, A Virginia Matron of the old school.”

You can replace Virginia matron, of course, with any state, but I believe it to be an extraordinary description of a woman of true class.

Whether you are the girls embracing your youth by being naughty on occasion without permanent social ramifications, or the girls judging the aforementioned group, you MUST own Emily Post’s Etiquette: A Guide To Modern Manners. I would say, it is the instructional manual for conducting yourself in a classy manner. I’ve included some excerpts on behaving in a truly classy manner:

• “The cardinal principle of etiquette is thoughtfulness. This implies a concern for the effect of your actions on those around you.”
• “They will do things differently, and you must accept…their ways. You can learn a great deal from people with different backgrounds if you have an open mind and are willing to study rather than criticize”
• “There will inevitably be irritations…Don’t let these annoyances blow up out of all proportion. Tell the person how you feel. Nine times out of Ten they had not even realized it was bothering you and will be happy to remedy the situation”
• “The best way of handling the obscene call (text) is to hang up immediately”
• “If you find another person’s opinion completely unacceptable, try to change the subject as soon as possible. If you care too intensely about a subject it is dangerous to allow yourself to say anything.”
• “It is unkind to ridicule or criticize others, because the tables are often turned on those who do.”

The lesson is, of course, we should have a high standard for ourselves. But we should also show generosity to others and live by a social conduct that shows the bystander that our lives are far too lovely to be affected by minutiae (or at least we should fake it until we don’t care). I’m no angel. I’ll see someone who offended me at some point and tell my bestie what a dumb whore she is. There is, however, a great deal of difference between conversation with friends, about enemies, and the things that are written online directed toward a complete stranger.

Follow me on Twitter @Sratire

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