The Elegance Files, No. 11: You Have A Voice

Monday, April 11, 2016

Something that is often confused with elegance is silence.

via tumblr
We think of classy, genteel women and we look at ourselves and say "I could never be her. I have too many strong opinions." I think that's probably the most common response I've gotten to my philosophy of elegance, because people seem to think that if we're going to be respected in our community, we've got to talk less and smile more. (Did you get that reference? ;) And I just think that's the farthest from the truth.

Women in history are not often remembered for their words, and that is because of those that did talk, most only spoke of fashion and the weather: all the nice conversation-starters we imagine ourselves being confined to when we think of the words "an elegant woman." There is nothing memorable in small talk to be recorded, so why should we bother? But when history remembers the words of a woman, it is when she spoke not only powerfully - after all, anyone with significant air supply and disregard for her own better judgement can do that! - but the women who spoke, spoke on what mattered.

So here's the simmer-down: does elegance mean speaking less? Sometimes, yes it does. There will always be things that do not require your comment, and of course a woman must learn to hold her tongue, just as a man must. But sometimes it means speaking, even if your temporary respect does seem to hang in the balance: true elegance is, after all, long-standing, and perseveres after we have gone. But those who are silent are forgotten: there is no elegance in wordlessness if no one will speak up for the truth. Sometimes, "my silence is my self-defense", and self-defense does not leave a legacy.

You know what does? Bravery.

Let's be polite on the smaller issues, that when the bigger waves come we have not worn out the strength of our arguments by constant nagging. Because you do have a voice, and you never know when it may be the one that saves. 

14 comments

  1. Carmel. This is amazing. It reminds me of that verse in Isaiah ~ "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength". The two are not mutually exclusive. You're absolutely right; elegance is all about learning to recognize the times when our voice is needed.
    Thank you.

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    1. Eloise,
      I'm so pleased to hear it resonated with you.
      Thanks for the verse from Isaiah! I'd completely forgotten about that one, but it really inspired me today. :)

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  2. "talk less, smile mor-"
    "Wait, did you just low-key tell me to shut up?"
    (what I imagine whenever I hear that line)

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  3. I think a big part of elegance is saying what you need to, but with grace and tact.

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  4. Agreed. Weigh your words. Make them count. But do speak.

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    1. "Weigh your words" - couldn't have said it better. ^.^

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  5. A quote that I like to keep in mind that reminds me of this: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    1. Oh, that's a good one! That you for that reminder, Anne. ^.^

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  6. Let's be polite on the smaller issues, that when the bigger waves come we have not worn out the strength of our arguments by constant nagging.

    ^^I'm going to write that down in my quote book.

    ~Schuyler

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  7. Well said, dear one. Choose your battles wisely but never, ever let anyone silence your voice.

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