There's an interesting discussion going on at Advanced Style, which was reviewed by another blogger who doesn't like that Ari uses the word ladies. Ari wanted to bring the debate forward and asked readers what they thought. What's the right word? Women? Ladies? Girls? Something else?
First, let me say I love Advanced Style, Ari's fantastic, and as many readers pointed out, he obviously has a great deal of respect and affection for those he photographs. It seems picky and unnecessary to criticize his choice of words. His beautiful work speaks for itself.
But I was surprised by the passionate responses from women who prefer to be called ladies. Many also said the amazing women Ari photographs deserve to be called ladies. As though it is a badge one earns. And that's the part that bothers me.
I've never cared for the term ladies. Mostly because that's what they screamed at us when I was in the Army in basic training.
Ladies! Get off you rear ends and mop this floor!
Ladies! It's time to get up!
Ladies! That not how we do it in the Army!
I can still hear the way the drill sergeant said ladies. Such disdain. However, aside from my own bias, I have no issues with Ari using the word ladies on his blog. It's his style, and I think he should stick with what feels right for him. But the comments have validated what I suspected all along. The words women and ladies are not interchangeable for some people.
Being a lady can come with baggage. Certain standards of appearance and behavior that must be met. Who gets to decide what those standards are and whether you make the cut? What are the consequences of defying those expectations? Call me a contrarian, but my role models are the women who ignore all that silliness and push the boundaries of convention.
My favorite comment was from Janis, who said:
I'm not a girl and haven't been for a long time, and the only people who call me a lady are the ones who are trying to get me to pipe down and behave.