A few weeks ago while I was scrolling mindlessly through my recommended section on Instagram, I came across a reel of a woman explaining how women should and should not sit on a couch. She explained that women should keep their backs straight and legs together. I quickly clicked off of the video. At the time, I didn’t think much more about it other than the fact that I didn’t want to spend my free-time watching a video that mirrored the millions of lectures that I had received from my mother during my life about appearing “lady-like.” I figured that most modern young women would share my point of view, but I continued to see more and more posts about etiquette pop up on my timeline. I finally decided to look into these pages and try and understand what their true message was and why it was becoming so popular.
The account I decided to look into first was @/theeleganceadvisor. I was stunned to see that the account had garnered around 100,000 followers, but even more stunned that the woman who managed this account, Taylor Elizabeth, was a certified etiquette advisor and licensed coach. Before I stumbled across her page, I didn’t even know it was possible to have a certification in etiquette.
As I scrolled through Elizabeth’s posts, I noticed that her tips and guidelines on etiquette extended past social occasions and into business behavior, and communication. In one of Elizabeth’s posts, she shares how to “elegantly” admit you made a mistake in a conversation. In another, she shares how to be polite and courteous in crowded spaces such as grocery stores. In a tweet, Elizabeth stated that “Etiquette rules evolve with time, but its core principles of consideration, respect, and honesty never go out of style.”
While it is jarring to see someone online tell you how to act in certain situations. I didn’t get the feeling that Elizabeth was trying to set women back or limit women’s freedoms in any way. In fact, she’s a woman who has made her own success by teaching people how to be considerate, and if that isn’t the most badass-feminist thing ever then I don’t know what is.
Still, there’s a definite moral to my complete attitude shift on etiquette accounts. Because I had initially written them off as preachy and backwards, I wouldn’t have noticed the nuance or even understood the intention and message behind these posts had I not invested time into researching them. As I write this, I wonder how many other opinions, subjects, and arguments I’ve disregarded or made assumptions off of simply because I didn’t take the time to understand them. Although Elizabeth’s posts have not changed the way I sit on the couch or sip my coffee, they have changed my perspective on forming opinions and making assumptions.