“Be A Lady They Said”, narrated by actress Cynthia Nixon, is taking the Internet by storm. The viral video highlights society’s unrealistic (and conflicting) expectations of women. It’s blunt, honest, and visually inspiring. Here’s why you should take notice…
“Be A Lady They Said” and the double bind of women
The women’s magazine Girls Girls Girls released the video of Cynthia reading a shortened version of Camille Rainville’s essay titled “Be A Lady They Said.” The essay and accompanying video expose how women are monitored in every part of their lives, constantly being held to absurd standards of femininity.
While women go about their lives, they’re having to conform to sometimes-unspoken social norms. Shame is used to suppress women and to make sure they cave to these standards. For example, the video shows how tabloids make use of unflattering pictures to bully celebs about their weight.
Moreover, the video exposes how women find themselves permanently caught in a social double bind. “Be A Lady They Said” illustrates how women should be simultaneously sexy and pure, glamorous and natural, ambitious and meek. In short, the game’s rigged.
Short-yet-impactful snippets create a jarring, effective visual reference. Besides being narrated by Sex and the City‘s Cynthia Nixon, there are also some superstar cameos. “Be A Lady They Said” stars Rachel McAdams throughout, for one.
Rachel’s first appearance in the video is a clip from Mean Girls, in which she plays iconic bully Regina George. This version of Rachel is young, blonde, and catty – embodying the stereotypical young woman. Then, we see mature Rachel: a provocative, unapologetic, (brunette) mom. She smears the make-up off her face and then sits pumping her breasts, proud. A transformation; she is a symbol of an abandoned stereotype and an assertive, strong woman.
Also keep an eye out for Vanessa Hudgens and Rose McGowan. But wait, there’s more. You’ll see clips of Robin Wright and sassy US politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Cynthia’s narration is paired with ominous, surging music and images from movies, gossip mags, news broadcasts, TV shows, advertisements, and the magazine’s own photography. The snippets are disorientating visual representations of the eerie, prophetic narration. It’s refreshing and unique.
Additionally, there’s footage of Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Pope Frances. These men are all controversial figures in the enforcing of standards on women. “Be A Lady They Said” is piercing and deliberate. It’s nothing short of a rallying cry.
Brace yourself for chills. Here’s the full “Be A Lady They Said” video: