Aretha Franklin Was Right – R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Really Matters

Tatyana Wilson, Ed. S.

I know these sound like fightin’ words! Yep, I think the attitude, “I can wear whatever the %$## I please and if someone doesn’t like it or has an issue with it, that’s their problem!” is dysfunctional.

I could have chosen to write something soothing, comforting…maybe even encouraging, but as I get more and more fed up with the prevailing winds of disrespect in our society, I’m just gonna call BS on this whole mentality.

This attitude reflects a serious lack of personal dignity.

What’s Dignity Anyway?

When you think of the word “dignity”, what comes to mind?

I’m a pretty visual person, so when I think of dignity, I see myself being able to walk with my head held in a confident manner, being able to have autonomy in my life, being able to treat others with respect and receive the same treatment.

The dictionary defines dignity as: “The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.”

Honor and respect… that sounds nice, doesn’t it? If we could have continual respect from people we come across. Wouldn’t that be great?

Sorry to say, that’s neither likely nor realistic.

By the way, you know what no one has to look up?  (Literally, you might as well not even have it in the dictionary.)  No one ever needs to look up what respect means. Why? Because all of us innately KNOW what it means.  We know when we’re being respected and when we’re not.

Respect is hard to find but easy to spot.  –TATYANA WILSON

How Dignity Isn’t Actually Considered “Cool”

You know me… always blogging about the new cool things.  All I want is to be considered “cool”…  I hope you can sense my sarcasm.

Here, I’m using the definition of “cool” as it’s mostly used in our society: “what’s trending?”

Of course, I have my own ideas of what should be considered cool, but the vast majority of society values totally different things for coolness and mostly just think “cool” is “whatever’s is trending” and “what’s in at the moment”.

However,  the definition of cool is, “aesthetic or attitude, comportment, and style that is generally admired.”

So, while the mainstream societal mob might be perpetuating the lame ideas of what’s cool, such as these:

  • What’s trending right now
  • What celebrities are doing, wearing, watching, saying
  • Which celebrities are sexually most desirable and how we can keep up
  • What new things are catching the most attention
  • Who’s keeping up with trends the best

Very few actually “admire” anything of dignity (remember, that means the quality of being worthy of honor or respect).  Most of the mainstream mob is not focused on that and the narrative doesn’t include anything of human dignity.

So, passively, by its very omission from the mainstream trends and narrative, dignity is reduced in priority.  And in a more sinister way, it is often actively fought against when anyone tries to stand up for honor and respect against the mob.

The mob doesn’t value honor and respect.

Have you ever noticed that it’s totally acceptable to bad-mouth or act disrespectfully to anyone and everyone these days?  “Hey, it’s my First Amendment, right to be a jackass to whomever we please!” (No sense in even trying to legislate respect, this is a matter of the heart.)

Of course, some parents do try to teach kids things like, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” “Say, ‘Please, thank you, and excuse me’”, and other such ideals, but the prevailing behaviors of people far outweigh many of those attempts.

This is why, sadly, dignity is not something we can honestly say is valued in our society at this point.

Because the prevailing trends are anti-respect, you have to actively fight against the current to have the honor and respect that you deserve as an individual.

How we dress and carry ourselves cues others as to how they are to treat us.  Dressing ourselves for dignity cues people to treat us with the dignity we all deserve as a human beings.

The above stated definition of cool (“aesthetic or attitude, comportment, and style that is generally admired”)  is exactly what this site is about.  (Wow, I’m actually impressed with that definition.)

How we dress and carry ourselves cues others as to how they are to treat us.  TATYANA WILSON

We Should All Want To Keep Our Dignity

Somewhere along the way, we have become convinced that being cool is more important than thinking for ourselves and protecting our personal dignity, but when we realize the ideals for coolness keep changing every season with the whims of influencers, then we can see how silly it is.

More importantly, don’t let the fact that humans are created to be social creatures be hijacked by stupid ideas of what’s “in”.

We’re created to be social creatures because we’re supposed to work together, not so we could mindlessly follow stupid trends in society.

Guess what’s needed if anyone is going to work together successfully? Mutual respect!

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Everyone deserves to have a fair chance in life. Everyone should be valued. Everyone should have a chance to shine and contribute to society. And, it starts with how we view ourselves and the dignity with which we carry ourselves.

For this reason, I say that when someone has a self-centered attitude such as “I can do whatever I want”, they’re hurting their own ability to have mutually respectful relationships within society and limiting their own success.  And self-harm is dysfunctional.

So, in a society where you can clothe with whatever you want, clothe yourself with dignity.

This article first appeared in


  1. Joyce L. Shafer says

    Tattyana, you and this article SO ROCK!

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