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JENNIFER'S GEMS
by Jennifer Brown Banks

Class Distinctions
Defining Class and Classy People

"Class is quiet confidence. Class says I don't need to tell you, let me show you instead. Class is simple elegance, no bling-bling needed.." ~ Stephanie Gates

Talking to a fellow artist the other day, we toppled upon an interesting topic. He and I attempted to define the word “class” and how those who possess it display it.

Though we are like-minded in many ways, I’m not sure if we’re on the same page when it comes to this.  Which is okay.  I believe in disagreeing without being disagreeable. :-)

 

Here’s my take... I believe that class, like beauty, is subjective.  In other words, it’s in the eyes of the beholder (though there are some universals, which I’ll discuss later).

For me, class is not about wearing designer clothes or knowing the proper utensils to use at a posh affair, or exhibiting “political correctness.”

How do I define class?

Class is about how you treat other people, how you carry yourself in public, and knowing what to ignore and what to give emphasis to.  t’s about having an innate sense of “appropriateness” in varied social situations.   It’s about being charitable in spirit.  For me class is also about personal integrity. Further more, all “polished” folks ain’t always classy!

Here’s an example... I once worked for a woman who was well known in elite circles.  Her taste in clothes and accessories was impeccable.  She was painstaking in her “public image.”  She spared no expense when it came to entertaining, and outsiders perceived her as worth emulating.  For certain, she was the epitome of those said to belong to the “siddity committee.”

But behind clothes doors, for those of us who knew her on a day-to-day basis, she was a woman who wielded her power in a very distasteful, domineering, even “ghetto” manner. And for the unenlightened, ghetto behavior is not confined to folks of color.  Don’t get it twisted. :-)

This woman was loud, abrasive, belittling, and ungracious.  She would often openly ridicule her employees in public settings, use profanity, and gossip about business associates and others.  This “legend in her own mind” looked down her nose on those whom she considered as lacking in certain social graces.

The bottom line? Though she would be considered “upper class” by societal standards, she had very little class in common ways.

As I stated before, class is subjective.  But there are a few universals in my opinion.  Here are a few for me:

» CLASSY PEOPLE don’t repeat everything that they hear or see.  They recognize that people’s reputations and lives are at stake.  They follow the Golden Rule.

» CLASSY PEOPLE are honest without being unnecessarily brutal.  Got something sensitive to share?  Consider how you would want to be told, and whether it has a constructive purpose.

» CLASSY PEOPLE respect others’ time and opinions.

» CLASSY PEOPLE are not elitist.

» CLASSY PEOPLE are not boastful about their success or social standing. They don’t have anything to prove.

» CLASSY PEOPLE know when to speak and when to hold their peace!

» CLASSY PEOPLE don’t take big stands on little issues.

» CLASSY PEOPLE don’t compare or compete.

» CLASSY PEOPLE have a good sense of humor and know when and how to use it to lighten the mood.

» CLASSY PEOPLE have an innate sense of appropriateness.

» CLASSY PEOPLE are not always popular, nor do they care.

» CLASSY PEOPLE don’t hold grudges.

Get where I’m coming from?

Now here’s what a few other “in-the-know” people had to say about how they would define class.

Lillie - “It’s the “it” factor.  It’s having confidence without being arrogant.  Your name and a few others come to mind.”

Aaron Samuels - I would define a "classy" person as one who exudes dignity and self-   assurance...

For women it is usually manifested by being careful about her appearance and the way she treats others, whether they are her social peers or not.

For males "class" is usually measured by a healthy self-esteem and material things (clothes, car, etc.) as well as the dignity shown to other people. 

Carol - ” Let me visualize those who I feel have class...some characteristics.....
that may show class; Humble, conscientious, dignified, of honor, socially acceptable, contribute to society (time, energy, resources,) carry themselves well, do follow the rules, are presentable in public, not flashy or pretentious, well mannered, good posture physically and mentally, great attitudes, not a person who needs to make excuses, takes responsibility verses an attitude of entitlement, shows this in actions vs.words.  A person that is a GOOD example.”
 
Gail (Police Officer) - “I surmise that class is synonymous with breeding/education/training that shows itself under trying circumstances. For instance we say a person has 'class' when they show good manners in the proper situation. Or we say 'that was a class act' when a person goes above and beyond a given limit with no thought of compensation or seeking recognition.

For me class is about observable abstractions. That sounds oxymoronic but I think class is observing or sensing things about a person's presence, and about their particular character traits like intelligence, serenity, humility, humor, honesty, thoughtfulness, that, while hard to define, are clear nonetheless.

Abstract because even persons who may consider themselves to be without class will still tell you they can recognize it when they see it.”

Glenda Arnold
 A person who is confident in themselves, i.e., in how they act, in what they wear; in who they associate with; in who they forgive; one who doesn't have to follow trends and fashions, or the crowd”

Here’s the bottom line for me.  In matters of the heart I’d much rather date someone who has both character and class than one “perceived” to be classy.  One trait without the other isn’t very impressive in my book.


 


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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.


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