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What is Dainty?

The Dainty Dialogue

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Dainty is misused sometimes

When I hear the word Dainty, I think, fragile, small, breakable, stuff like that. The only reason I'm a "girl" is because someone else said I fit the bill. Anyone could call me a "Tyrannassorabeech" and I'd still be who I am. I guess you can't really take being a girl too personal because it's just a name to call us, it's just a stereotype like the word dainty can be. I have a cloth menstrual pad from Hag Rag that has animals on it because it's fun and it doesn't remind me of a bandaid. I like to fartloud and shoot guns (safely), because it's there and I can. I know I'm not being fair to myself or other women if I attack them for being human. I wish more girls realized this about themselves. I think this website is an advocate for this sort of self stratification for women and I really like it.

submitted April 3, 2006 by Cassey Bowman

dick, jane, and sally

I'm an artist too, and a total workaholic, so I don't often surf just for the fun of it. But this site is irresistable. I swear we must have all gone to elementary school together. We probably all had the same Bobbie Sherman lunchboxes, had shag haircuts, rode our bikes with the banana seats (and if you were really cool the streamers too), and wore mood rings and knee socks like Jan Brady. Did you have a Baby Tenderlove doll. . .I'll bet you did.

On the theme of the female "domestication", I have also done a series of work. If you ever have the urge, check out my painting "Making Little Ladies" at

I will be revisiting this site. . .it's innovative, and makes me smile even while I shudder sometimes in recognition.

submitted March 13, 2006 by cory jaeger kenat

You have a fabulous website! I am a heavily tattooed 21-year old body piercer and am studying to become a midwife. I have, since childhood, been fed by my mother, grandmother, father, and recently stepmother, on how to be a dainty, lovely young woman (which does not TYPICALLY go hand in hand with skull tattoos- but I think I do real well) and embrace my femininity. I have, as I've gotten slightly older, realized that it isn't subordinating or de-feminizing to be a lady, even a dainty one. I think that you are helping other girls like I was enjoy being a girl. Thanks!!!

submitted Sept 10, 2002 by Sarah

dainty??? HELL NO!!!!!!!!!

I was born to an over religious mother who taught me to keep my legs down and not to show off my panties. Much to her dismay, I had to show the little boys my new panties. So as I grew up, I climbed trees in shorts and when she wanted me in a dress I would wear it and still climb trees. At one point in time she was recieveing stuff from stores that would be donated to the Missionaries and children on resevations. Part of all this stuff of dolls, toys and lots of panty hose, and I would wear them to church anbd durning the week I really tryed to be good and act like a lady. So I would put these pantyhose on and a dress and go climb a tree. That was my part of being DAINTY.

Now I have a daughter who loves dresses and trees, and trying to let her enjoy being a tomboy and little girl too. Maybe being dainty is for some girls but not for Anna or me, I still like climbing trees. AND smoking the cigarettes with the cool piece that looks like an extention. It is from the 20's and 30's period. Sexy and feminine too.

submitted Aug 28, 2002 by brenndah

hello, my dainty ones-
your work is wonderful, innovative and spectacular. if you want, i can send you some old 50's magazine clippings for douches and tampons- danitiness is mentioned in every one. also, i've done a few crocheted cunt-hats...but perhaps thats not quite danty enough!:D

submitted June 1, 2002 by violet

I am a 35 year old, twice divorced, mother of two boys. I weigh 103 lbs. and stand 5 foot 4 inches, I am a green eyed blonde and have heard the word dainty so many times that I actually cringe when I hear it. Oh, and did I mention that I have been a tattoo artist for the past 16 years? I think what you are doing is great, for women, for children, for the whole human race. Keep up the good work.

submitted May 1, 2002 by sherri g

Response from Sherri W:

Thanks, I hear a cheer for Dainty Pride!

Smoking Daintily

I'm 46 and have been smoking since I was 12. My mother found out when I was 14. She was more upset by the way I smoked than the fact that I had taken up the habit in the first place. She sat me right down and taught me how to smoke like a lady. For that I am eternally grateful.

submitted April 3, 2002 by maggie

Follow up later from maggie (after Sherri asked her what it's like to smoke like a lady):

First of all, according to my mother, in order to smoke like a lady, one must keep her fingers on the filter. She said it elongated the cigarette and accentuated finger length. Heaven forbid I was ever to hold a cigarette without painted nails. She also taught me that a lady places the filter at the center of her lips and never to the side. She also said that it was important to frame the cheek with the cigarette with your forearm pointed up- never hold a cigarette below your waist. Always wait for a man to light your cigarette. If you wait long enough he'll get the idea. Always smile as you inhale because it depicts a look of sensual pleasure. Above is how to smoke like a lady. Below is what it's like to smoke like a lady.

I married a younger man who is sexually attracted to women who "smoke like ladies." He's like putty in my hand the second he sees me reaching me for my pack. You've got to try it for your self some time. Just make sure you do it in front of the right kind of guy.

Response from Sherri:

Hi Maggie, I love your story. Thanks for writing it down. Unfortunately I don't smoke so I can't take advantage of the technique - but maybe I'll figure out a way to translate it into some other activity like eating dessert - cause I do like younger men - they are often very sweet.

I love tattoos and I am so glad to have stumbled onto your site. This is the most unique display of creativity I have ever seen. I also love to do embroidery, I learned from my great-grandmother. this has inspired me to encourage my daughters' creative side. I have been blessed with four daughters and all of them are genius'. They range in age from 12-2. I know they would love to see your work up close. Please let me know if you will be exhibiting in Cali anytime.

submitted March 19, 2002 by yvette

Response from Sherri:

Thanks yvette, Aren't grandmothers & greatgrandmothers the best? I'll keep you on an email list and let you know about shows. I hope you will encourage your daughters to try and make their own embroidered tattooed doll and then send me pictures to post on the website.


to Natasha's comment! We are one in the same. We know what we can, can not and won't do.

submitted January 31, 2002 by Amy

lifting your pinky in the air when you hold your teacup is dainty; lifting your foot behind you when you kiss someone is not.

submitted January 9, 2002 by sarah

I just wanted to say...

It's ben decided by this time, 16 years into my life that I only LOOK like a chick, in this head is the mind of a "male" or so I've been told. It's because many girls my age are prissy and what not. & that's just not in me, you know. To that English chick with the daisies and the army boots: rock on! I gotta say. There's a time to be dainty, when he's buyin you lobster. But other than that, it never helps you get too much accomplished. You can be a chick with out being sissy.

submitted October 4, 2001 by Britney

To me, as a typically messed up 17 year old English girl, dainty means being able to wear daisies in my hair and smile sweetly and flutter my eyelashes yet still be wearing my kick-ass army boots with my 'daintiest' skirts and to basically use my femininity to my advantage (and to blokes disadvantage!) Dainty is NOT the stereotype 'flit around like a butterfly being all girly'. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE butterflies, but bear in mind; however beautiful they are, they only last about 3 days. We, as women, have to kick more ass than a pretty little butterfly to survive in this world. Just a thought.


submitted July 27, 2001 by eli

Response from Sherri:

I totally agree we do "have to kick more ass than a pretty little butterfly to survive in this world." But wouldn't it be quite a sight to see a butterfly kicking ass!

Having been born in the '50's, a small girl in the '60's and a teen in the wonderous '70's, I saw many facets of the 'dainty' female. Being a child from the "Leave it to Beaver" mentality age saw that my mother did not work - she made a home for us. She sewed all my sister's and my clothes, cooked us breakfast and actually made us sit and eat it every day. Dinner was on the table by 5 p.m. and it was a treat to have McDonald's (the only fast food available at that time). When we went to church on Sundays or to weddings, the white gloves, hats and white lacy anklets with black patent Mary Janes came out. Everything was properly pressed and sparkling from clothing to our home.

In the '70's the 'rebel' in me came out. By this time mom made a stand and went to work, but somehow managed to STILL make a home for us, still made us eat breakfast, and eating out was still a treat. I wore my "love beads" and fake leather dresses to school! Yeah baby - REBEL! But yet, my hair was still always perfect and nylons a must. (that damn 50's mentality)

When I grew up and became a mama/housewife of my own, I *gasp* attempted to have the "Leave it to Beaver" home, but soon gave that concept up for reality. I worked - and didn't do the best at keeping everything neat and orderly (and still don't). Nor did I iron any more than absolutely necessary (a trait I have learned to despise from having to iron my father's undershirts for so many years!). Fast food was quite common in our home, while breakfast (yes, I made my daughter's eat it daily when they were young) consisted of cold cereal and pop tarts, and God-forbid me having to figure out how to have a garden, flower beds or anything that reflected the dainty era of my life! (I refused to iron my husband's undershirts, but he knew better than to expect that, too!)

Having grown up through those wonderous eras and seeing the ever changing cultures around us has, at 46 given me an open minded perspective on the world. My daughters can talk to me about anything and everything and generally I don't become too mortified at what I hear. Both of my daughters have learned to become individuals and develop their own personas. I encourage individuality (even though I'm still not in agreement of multiple piercings all over the body, nor am I a big fan of tattoos, regardless of how beautiful they are - I've still got some the mentality of a '50's woman - somteimes you can't let it all go) I've learned to take pride in having knowledge of a garden, flower beds, canning (there is a special pride that shoots through me when I hear the little 'ping' from a jar of freshly made jam as it seals!), and making a home. I can sew, paint, cross stitch, change the oil and tires (if I absolutely have to), mow the lawn and hold my own in a swearing match, plus, I'm a darn good cook.

The white gloves have long since disappeared (but on occasion, they try to rear their ugly little heads and make me become a '50's woman again, and I just shove them back into the recesses of my mind happy in knowing if I choose to have that lifestyle, I have the knowledge to do so) and I revel in being a woman with the ability to do all I do and live with open arms and welcome life and all it's marvels!

submitted July 13, 2001 by Marcia

You Go Girls!! I think what you are doing is awesome!! So many times girls are taught not to get their hands dirty, in turn not having any fun. Wearing pink dresses and make-up, we sit by and watch the world drift away from us. This helps me to remember that we are our own person - and whatever WE want to do should be accepted. The way you act should not be a stereo type - it should be the way you truly feel!!

submitted July 6, 2001 by Heather


Dainty is a strange word that brings to mind petite, fragile, helpless females, but dainty also projects the idea of refinement. Am I dainty? Well, I am not petite... I am 5'6'', 1** (too many) pounds; I am not fragile! I have been through two difficult childbirths, my husband's life changing disability, four years of college while in my late thirties, etc. I am not helpless; I can change a tire if necessary, do laundry, write a thesis, cook, and clean (all at the same time too!). Am I refined? Yes, I suppose I am. I have learned to be a good example to my children, put my own needs aside for my husband (and not begrudge him for it). I have polished my own character and improved my education. Most of all, I am new and improved with age...refined.

submitted July 4, 2001 by B. Chandler

Response from Sherry:

Dainty is a strange word - check out the dainty thesaurus for more info on the origin and relationships of the word "Dainty."

Growing up in the south as a young girl meant being either dainty by wearing dresses all day, sitting under the shade tree and hoping you didn't get your white socks dirty. To me that was so boring. I would hang out with all the boys who would let me tag along. By doing that I had such fun. We would catch frogs and snakes. We would ride the wash tubs across the diches by pushing them with home made paddles. If you where lucky, which I was, you would find an older boy who would teach you how to work on cars or how to change a tire. Back then I looked like a little tom-boy. Wearing bluejeans and running around in bare feet, but if you saw me now I look every bit like a dainty lady.

submitted July 2, 2001 by betty

It seems as though there were quite a few of us girls who refused to be the 'dainty' little poodles we were supposed to be in the 60's and 70's. I wasnt one of them and really felt sorry for the girls who acted as though they were...I look at them now and laugh to myself. I was pretty much rebellious and rode horses and helped my dad work on I feel men who dont know how to change the oil in their cars are 'girly-men'...that makes me laugh too. Nevertheless, like most of the dainty girls, I could really exude the sexiness to get just about any guy I wanted...I wasnt ALL hammer and nails and looked quite hot back then in a bikini. I dont know, what did they call women like us back then?? Natural women? Men, or at least the real men who werent into the 'me Tarzan you Jane' thing and who didnt date the 'dainties' were just turned on by women who could hold their own and didnt depend on them to do all the dirty work. Hmmm Dainty though...I found an old magazine the other day and there was an ad for Kotex, you have to whisper the name, and the ad never spoke of severe menstrual bleeding or bloating or bitching associated with menstruation but repeatedly called it the 'Dainty' time of the month. Well practically all of us had I suppose we were all dainty at least for a few days a month. I figure a man created the ad in that magazine and had to really think hard about how to get the message across without using THE word, menstruation, so he came up with the ideal word, dainty. Now wouldnt you buy Kotex if using them made you the dainty gal you were meant to be? Like you had a choice.

O.K. so here we are...young women taking after their own dainty moms that cant change a light bulb, cook a decent meal without a cookbook, wear these horrible thick fake fingernails because they have worn them so long their own nailbeds are destroyed and god forbid get out and maintain their own vehicles..."oh well if it runs out of oil I'll buy a new one...hehehe". These dainty creatures seem to live lives that liken to reading only the beginning and only the end of a book and suddenly they know the whole story. Of course we both look at each other in the same sneering way and think how stupid the other must be.

submitted March 18, 2001 by Kim Chiasson

Personally, I think that being dainty might be getting a bum rap. I revel in being a high maintenance chick. Don't get some idea that I have bleached blonde hair, wear pancake makeup and tight clothes or that I have fake tits and a membership to a gym at which I climb the stairstepper into nowhere. I actually have red hair, a rather normal/small sized rack, wear clothes that actually fit, never exercise while I chain smoke, drink coffee, beer and swear like a sailor when the mood strikes. However, I don't know the first thing about changing a tire, can't use a drill and, while I can beat most people (M or F) in an intellectual debate, I spent my childhood getting my ass kicked by my little sister. I devote hours to feminine rituals such as plucking, shaving, curling, trying on various outfits, and making up. What is wrong with this? Maybe if we indulged ourselves a little more than guys wouldn't lack the chivalry with which they once treated us. I expect to have the door opened for me, for the guy to pay for dinner and for Him to ask Me to dance. Do we really want those pressures? I, for one, prefer to be on the receiving end and I think the only way to get these pleasures is to act as if we deserve them.

submitted March 6, 2001 by natisha

Being dainty means you can't do all the fun nonsense that boys do, like burping the alphabet and rating your farts by sound and smell. I was not a dainty little girl by any means. I was fat, nerdy, and had no friends, so I figured, "TO HELL WITH BEING DAINTY!" I pride myself to this day on being able to belch polysyllabic words with the best of the boys, a skill I learned quite by accident back in the third grade. Being dainty has never served me well. Don't get me wrong, I have manners, in fact, better manners than some of the "dainty" girls that I know. I can behave and play well with others. I enjoy wearing pink lipstick and mascara and skirts. I am not a boor. But I can also work on cars, hit a baseball, sweat, and hold my own in a rowdy mosh pit, plus all sorts of other fun "boy" stuff. Too many girls hide their weaknesses behind a dainty facade, afraid to get dirty, exert themselves, get hurt, smell bad, break a nail, muss their hair, etc, etc., waiting for a guy to come to their rescue. That just makes me sick. Dainty is an outdated term when applied to anything but petit fours, tea sandwiches, and other fancy bite-sized edibles. It is inconvenient to be dainty anymore, because you can't be dainty and get things done. You can't daintily check your oil, or daintily push your broken-down car out of a lane of traffic. I had to push my car an entire city block in a skirt and heels once. I am feminine, but I am also tough, smart, strong, and fearless. People, especially guys, are not particularly impressed by a girl's daintiness, because "dainty" is now synonymous with "high-maintenance" and "fussy". All of the guys I know like a girl who is feminine and sexy sometimes, but who can also have fun, drink a beer, get rowdy and possibly sweaty and not care about their hair or make-up. Dainty girls are depressing and boring.

submitted February 23, 2001 by Stephanie

Response from Sherry:

for the sake of dialogue --- isn't dainty the foil, the counterpoint to the freedom to be dirty, get hurt, smell bad and break nails? i'm not saying be dainty - but recognizing it as part of femininity's history is empowering. perhaps the foil works both ways - is there anything hotter than a woman in a dress who can take care of her own car or a man with all his "manly" burdens taking the time to crochet his lover a pair of slippers?

This past Halloween I went to a party where all the adult guests were asked to come dressed as what they had wanted to be when they grew up. I wore a lovely pink wrap-around skirt with strawberry applique and a matching pink t-shirt, as well as a homemade red satin Miss America-style sash with the titles that explained my outfit and my girlhood aspirations: "Wife and Mother." I never would have dared wear anything so girly (pink on pink!) when I was actually a girl. I have an older brother who had convinced me that girly=stupid and I sure as hell was not stupid. I learned an important lesson about this whole girly issue in the pages of "Caddie Woodlawn" in which the pioneer girl is so furious about always being told to act like a lady, not the adventurous tomboy she wants to be. Finally, her father tells her, "You don't have to be a lady, Caddie. You can be a woman." It's a good memory of me first trying to figure out what "woman" means.

submitted February 12, 2001 by Kathy Colville

Dainty is definitely something that I'm not. I wasn't really a tomboy growing up, just a nerd who didn't much like fussing with her hair or playing with dolls. When great-grandma tried to teach me to crochet or knit, or grandma wanted to show me how to properly dissect a chicken, I tenaciously resisted. Having adopted some of the more liberal attitudes of the 60s, mom was happy to let me draw or read, for the most part. Only occasionally did she impose her own penchant for teased hairdos and trendy fashions upon me. Now, however, I actually regret not learning some of the traditionally "feminine crafts." Folks I know that do know them (and they are all women, surprise) seem to derive tremendous satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from their ability to create tangible, practical items. I can make a web site or write a program, but I can't knit my infant niece a pair of booties or sew myself a set of curtains. (At least I can sew on a button and cook a decent meal, which makes me a goddess in the eyes of my husband, at least :).

Of course, I didn't escape the societal pressures of being female in the end. In designing this site, I subconsciously distilled a lot of visual messages received over the years from makeup ads, douche commercials, etc. I don't do projects like this often, so it was quite enjoyable to play with images and concepts that have so many levels of interpretation.

submitted 14 January 2001 by Drey Cameron

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