TV show tries to mould ladies from ladettes

// 8 June 2005

Anyone who thought that reality tv couldn’t get any worse better brace themselves for Ladette to Lady.

ITV has really excelled itself with this. As the title suggests, the series takes 10 ‘geezer birds’ and attempts to transform them into ladies with perfect deportment and the skills to attract a society man, making them attend old-style finishing school. They are then eliminated when they fail to fully get behind this project to make their personalities more ‘acceptable’ and less tomboyish.

Some choice moments: One girl, a boxer, is expelled after being outed as ‘a bit of a feminist’. The girls are judged on the basis of their performance at a cocktail party, by eligible (read posh and rich) bachelors. One is shocked and appalled that one of the women is a gas fitter. (She is told she did surprisingly well at the party, but still wasn’t wearing enough makeup.) Another expresses contempt for a girl who’s never tried a prawn.

These women are being denigrated for failing to live up to some sort of ancient ideal of ladyhood, and the worst thing is that they are desperate to conform at the school. Despite efforts to ‘improve’ themselves, they are subject to degrading and insulting comments from the ‘teachers’.

The women are, undeniably, leary. But there is something unbelievably suspect about this attempt to make them conform to a classist and sexist idea of what it means to be a ‘lady’.

As Sarita Bhardwaj, the 26 year-old boxer who was the first to be kicked out, told the Sunday Mail, the tutors were “snobs”.

She said: “I was the only girl in there who stayed true to herself. The teachers were trying to turn us into Stepford Wives.”

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