Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Please Don't Call Me Young Lady - I'm Neither!

Image available here

OK, so here comes a rant. What's up with the terms of endearment retailers throw around?

I was at Starbucks today and the young, male barista called me "dear". Good lord - he wasn't old enough to call anyone "dear", and I don't think I'm old enough to be called "dear".

Then there's the dreaded "Ma'am". Why is it that "Sir" has a better connotation - respect and power, while "Ma'am" just seems a nicer way to say "I think you're an old lady, but they won't let me say that".

But, the worst of all? "Young lady" - usually the greeting of a smarmy, balding and/or overweight middle-aged man thinking he's being cute by announcing that you're not a young lady at all. Or, to be fair, some clueless older guy who actually thinks a grown woman likes being called something diminishing. Even a young girl knows that when someone calls her "young lady" it shows that she isn't to be taken seriously. Rather, it's wink-wink, we know you're just a silly little girl.

How do these guys get the memo ? First, I admit I've never had this conversation with my sons or The Captain, , so I'm starting there. Then, I'm going to try and say to the next guy who calls me "young lady" something like ," I know you're trying to be polite, but really, grown women don't like the 'young lady' thing". My daughters would add, "Just so you know"!

So, what do I want to be called? I couldn't think of anything. (Well, I do sort of like "Madam", but that's not without some baggage). I decided that what I really want is to be called is nothing - no dear, no miss, no ma'am, and no young lady. When you ask if I need something, just STOP right there. No need to tack on some label that is either vaguely or overtly condescending.

Unless, of course, you're from the South and can pull off calling everyone "darlin' "!!


  1. great post. i totally agree nothing worse that being called 'young lady' by some creepy guy.

  2. Thought you'd get a laugh out of my son's response to this post ( I told him it was required reading):

    Dear Ma'am,
    I did find your post to be quite enthralling, young lady. If you ever wish to pass along another, little miss, please feel oh so free to do so.
    Thanks, toots, for the email.


  3. Chere Deb,

    How about that? You are very, very funny. It's lovely to meet you.

  4. Ha! Love this! And I'm with you... Don't call me anything!

    (Is this a Starbucks thing???)

  5. Great post. Unfortunately, it's not just Starbucks... happened to me at Whole Foods and I will never, ever shop there again. In this culture of age discrimination, it's hard enough to face the wrinkles and gray hairs... I don't need to be reminded of them and insulted. The "young lady" thing was a slap in the face. Store clerks need to realize that it's as derogatory and discriminatory as calling an African American man "boy" or an obese customer "slim", and they know, or should know, better than to do that.

    "Young lady" is for misbehaving five year olds. Period.

    Notice how men are only called "sir" or "mister" but women get stuck with "ma'am", "miss", "mrs.", "dear", "honey", and that horrid "young lady".

    Baltimore waitresses got it right... just call everyone "hon".


Normal Title Italic

Follow Me on Pinterest


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...