the manners and etiquette paradox

According to, etiquette is a set of rules when dealing with the outside world, and manners are the expression of inner character. Emily Post stated that manners are common sense, and etiquette is its language. I don’t know much about her, but she was the etiquette expert.

If manners are an expression of your character, why are their rules along with them? What if your character is inherently chaotic? Wouldn’t etiquette go against your expression? If manners are common sense, doesn’t that mean it can’t truly be taught?

Let’s reel it in and discuss my manners and etiquette. I was, in fact, placed in a manners and etiquette course around the age of 12. I don’t know if there was anything explicitly wrong with the state of my manners at the time, but my mom enrolled me. You can’t really say no to Hispanic moms – don’t even try. I think I only attended one class anyway. They probably realized I was a lost cause.

They taught me how to set the table – as in folding napkins and positioning tiny forks. If you’ve ever met me, you know I cannot give a singular fuck about how a table is set. I can’t. I don’t particularly worry about table settings as long as the food and company are good. Needless to say, I don’t remember anything else from this course. I repressed that shit.

My etiquette, if we’re following tradition, is poor. I burp quite often, I don’t sit on chairs properly, and I’m too blunt. Changing my ‘expression of inner character’ would mean I’m not being true to myself, which would mean I’m being dishonest. Doesn’t dishonesty go against the rules of etiquette? This is the paradox, etiquette and manners are self-contradictory. I should be encouraged to express my inner character, but it goes against a lot of what etiquette stands for. It’s a vicious circle. Doesn’t matter much to me anyway. I’m a take-me-as-I-am kind of girl.

Now, would Emily Post be proud? Definitely not.

Author: Vero

professional jack of all trades

4 thoughts

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