Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short, your shirt is too low, don’t show so much skin, cover up, leave something to the imagination. Don’t be a temptress, men can’t control themselves, men have needs. Look sexy, look hot, don’t be so provocative, you’re asking for it. Wear black, wear heels. You’re too dressed up, you’re too dressed down, you look like you’ve let yourself go. Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat, don’t be too thin. Eat up, slim down, stop eating so much. Order a salad, don’t eat carbs, skip dessert. Go on a diet, God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated, you look sick. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be a size zero, be a double zero, be nothing, be less than nothing.
(flatline beep) Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Bleach this, bleach that, eradicate your scars, cover your stretch marks, plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles, lift your face, tuck your tummy, perk up your boobs. Look natural! You’re trying too hard, you look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard. Be a lady they said. Wear makeup, highlight your cheekbones, line your lids, fill in your brows, lengthen your lashes, color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short, dye your hair, not blue! That looks unnatural. Look young, old is ugly, men don’t like ugly. Be a lady they said, save yourself, be pure. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around, men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude, don’t be so uptight and smile more. Pleasure men, be experienced, be sexual, be innocent, be dirty. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls. Be a lady they said, don’t talk too loud, don’t talk to much, don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch, don’t be so bossy. Don’t be so emotional, don’t cry, don’t yell, don’t swear. Endure the pain, don’t complain. Fold his clothes, cook his dinners, keep them happy. That’s a woman’s job, you’ll make a good wife someday. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will someday, you’ll change your mind. Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped, don’t drink too much, don’t walk alone, don’t go out too late, don’t dress like that, don’t get drunk. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night, don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes, don’t say no, just be a lady they said.