Everyone was impressed with the scene in The Princess Diaries where the queen of Genovia tries to turn her granddaughter into a "lady". Taking a leaf out of her book, a Wenzhou based company has opened a girls' summer school, which aims to provide education in etiquette for young women. The company says that it can turn out "ladies" in about a week.
The company claims to have schools in Nanjing, Shanghai and other cities. Mr. Xu, the project head, said his team is targeting college and senior high school students. Those who enroll will be taught various classes, including how to match clothes, tea art and movies. A fee of 980RMB is charged to each student.
In order to ensure a quality teaching experience, class sizes will be kept small. "10 people have already applied for the class," said Mr Xu. He added that, "teaching will begin when enrollment reaches 20."
With today' employment pressures there is clearly an increasing demand for these "lady" courses. In the past, schools like Zhejiang University City College, Tsinghua University and a Wuhan based vocational college ran comparable courses, for example, for white-collar workers.
Opinions were divided on the value of these courses. Some approved, and added that they thought the classes reflected parents' valid concerns for their child's vocational ability. Others thought the trend reflected a growing unhealthy competitiveness in society and that poor social habits were being encouraged.
There are concerns about the Wenzhou classes too. Some do not believe a week is enough to turn a young woman into a young "lady".
Others object to the arguably sexist content. One senior 3 student said that in today's world "not everyone woman wants to be a 'lady'".
But the course has its defenders. They argue that the skills students can acquire will help them in the job market. As one person argued, "being a lady makes the job search easier."
The class director admits: "You cannot turn someone into a lady overnight." It may be that becoming a "lady" is something that a woman must work toward all her life.