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Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy

A typical greeting done by a female, it has long been considered to be a gesture of respect, though it is less common nowadays. For all variants of the curtsy the female bends her knees, sometimes sweeping one foot behind the other, and holding her skirt in both hands.

Furthermore, most servants would be expected to curtsy to their masters, mistresses or to someone of a higher social standing, like royalty. Female dancers may also curtsy at the end of a performance, or before engaging in a dance with another person. Note that for some, like The Ditz or the Cute Clumsy Girl, this may be a difficult thing to do. They may be used to contrast a Proper Lady who will, naturally, be an expert.

Can also be done in a mocking manner, as a sign of disrespect.

It's also a common part of those Regency-Debut to London Society type books. Specifically, the formal presentation to the queen, where the presentee has to curtsy before the queen. There's a little info about it here, after the fourth picture.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In episode 11 of the anime Ghost Stories a Creepy Doll named Mary does this at one point.
  • In Victorian Romance Emma the eponymous Emma, being a maid, frequently curtsies.
  • Dr. Fennel from Pokémon Black and White does so in her animated Pokémon appearance, using a lab coat instead of a dress.
  • Early on in Bleach, when Rukia and Orihime meet for the first time, they exchange curtsies. Rukia, however, is significantly more polite than she acts otherwise (she calls Orihime "Inoue-san" in that encounter, rather than merely "Inoue") as part of the facade she assumes around Ichigo's classmates.
  • Relena does the mocking version in the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, directed at a soldier who's dragging her father away for more work immediately after he returned from a business trip.
    • Much later, when Relena decides to become the Queen of the World, Dorothy makes a curtsy in front of her.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh episode 85, Yuuri who's disguised as a girl, does this.
  • Hayate × Blade: The girly Inori Sae does so.
  • Mami in Puella Magi Madoka Magica does this more than once in battle. Then guns start to fall from under her skirt...
  • In the last episode of the R season in Sailor Moon, Chibiusa curtseys to her parents before running into her mother's arms.

    Comic Books 
  • Powerpuff Girls #62 story "Brat Trap": In the standard "the day is saved" panel of pulsating hearts, Bubbles and the girls' friend Abby (created specifically for the story) exchange curtsies.
  • Dynomutt #1 (Nov. 1977): Not only does Dynomutt's young friend (actually a villainess) Goody Twoshoes curtsy to Blue Falcon, she lifts her skirt up high enough to provide a panty shot.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Futari Wa Pretty Cure Dragon, Ryan Lee is a male example; he even gets it right the first time! Susan Chan also does this, and as frequently as Ryan.

    Film (Animated) 

    Film (Live Action) 
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Upon meeting Willy Wonka the first thing Veruca does is curtsy.
  • In the movie version of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Griet does this often.
  • The cast curtain call at the end of the 1956 film The Bad Seed tops off with little Patty McCormack curtsying to us.
  • Done in a joking, but not mocking manner in Johnny English, when Rowan Atkinson's titular character is accidentally crowned.
  • Justified in The Queen since that is obviously the expected etiquette for women meeting the Sovereign of Britain. In fact, when she meets the mourners of Diana in public, the fact she encounters a whole line of Britons including women eager to curtsy to her, it's a welcome sign that she still has their respect.
  • In The King's Speech, when Bertie first meets his daughters after he became King, they do not run to hug him as a father, but coldly and formally curtsy to him.
  • Katniss does this in The Hunger Games after shooting an arrow at the gamemakers, who apparently had better things to do than pay attention to her archery display.
    • She does it again in Catching Fire after building an effigy of Seneca Crane, who had been executed for allowing both Katniss and Peeta to survive.

    Literature 
  • When she finds herself in a quasi-medieval world, Sarah from Greystone Valley greets friends with a curtsy because it seems like the proper thing to do.
  • Ella from Ella Enchanted is depicted as being very clumsy at the beginning, stating that "curtsies often make me fall over". Her father wishes for her to become less clumsy and more ladylike and sends her to finishing school. Ella rebels against the stern teachers at the school but eventually gives in to their teachings, until she runs away. The next time her father sees her she's much more graceful and able to do a perfect curtsy.
  • Alice in Wonderland - Alice is constantly doing this when meeting various Queens, and one of them even tells her to curtsy while she's thinking what to say. Apparently, it saves time.
  • In The Silver Chair, Jill just bows, as she wasn't taught how to curtsy. She learns how in the next book.
  • In the American Girl story "Happy Birthday, Molly!" one of Molly's friends tries to curtsy while wearing pants when she meets the English girl, and she says that she thought English girls always did that.
  • Done all the time in The Wheel of Time. Always.
  • Referenced in Tiffany Aching books. When Tiffany won't give a proper curtsy, due to her status as a witch, the Baron's son Roland gives her a dictionary with a sort of half-curtsy marked as a joke.
    • In earlier Discworld books, Granny Weatherwax said that when witches do recognise authority, they traditionally bow rather than curtsy.
  • Done by Samantha Sweeting in Undomestic Goddess. She curtsied to Trish because she thought that was what she was supposed to do as a housekeeper. Trish decided she liked it and made her keep doing it.
  • In Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, when the doorbell rings at Fairworth House just after Willis Sr.'s housewarming party, Willis Sr. mentions that he's expecting neighbour and art restoration expert Grant Tavistock to return for the soot-covered painting in his study. Lori refuses to carry it to Grant's car because she doesn't want it to soil her lovely dress. Willis Sr. pays her a courtly compliment on said dress, Lori thanks him, and then: "I curtseyed in a ladylike manner, then hiked up my lovely dress and set off for the entrance hall at a distinctly unladylike jog."

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Warrior... Princess", Xena's cover as a high-class lady is nearly blown by a bad curtsy:
    Prince: She's attractive enough, but that curtsy was abominable! I thought you said her manners were impeccable?
    Servant: They were!
  • In the I Love Lucy episode, "Lucy Meets the Queen," Lucy practices a 'perfect curtsy' so relentlessly that she ends up with a severe charley horse that threatens to compromise Ricky's 'Trained Horses' routine, and her own chance to meet the Queen.
  • In Game of Thrones, Shae's inexperience at court is evident in her inept curtsy. Cersei, who had perfected the gesture at age four, shows her how it's done.
  • Jess on New Girl ("Did... did you just curtsy?")
  • A Happy Days episode with a Halloween theme had Joanie, dressed as Snow White, curtsying after reciting the "mirror mirror, on the wall" poem.

    Theatre 
  • At the end of The King and I, after the King dies, Chulalongkorn's first act as the new King is to abolish the Pose of Supplication. He orders the men to bow to show respect, and calls on his mother, Lady Thiang, to demonstrate how "the ladies will make dip, as in Europe."
  • Kind of a running gag in The Sound of Music, as Georg Von Trapp's adorable daughters (particularly little Gretl) do it from time to time, especially, if you're using the film's moves, in "So Long, Farewell."

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Franziska von Karma from the Ace Attorney series regularly does this in a self-aggrandizing manner.
  • This is Ilya's preferred form of greeting in Fate/stay night.

    Web Animation 
  • In her trailer, RWBY's Weiss Schnee curtsies to her audience after singing for them. This hints at her aristocratic upbringing, and is one of the few times that she shows humility of her own accord.
    • Neo does this after being introduced to the eponymous team after shielding Torchwick from one of Yang's blows.

    Western Animation 
  • Pictured above: Lila from Hey Arnold! does it in the episode "Helga's Masquerade" when trying to teach Helga how to be more feminine.
  • Penny in The Proud Family refuses to curtsy to her partner during a ballroom dancing class, "Because it signifies subservience."
  • Lydia Deetz curtsies at the end of the Fox Beetlejuice opening.
  • The Flintstones episode "The Return Of Stony Curtis'': Posing as Wilma's "French maid" (in Wilma's attempt to put on airs for the visiting star Stony Curtis), Betty curtsies twice.
  • Sometimes in Animaniacs when the Warner Brothers bow, Dot curtsies.
    • In one episode, Scratchensniff is trying to train the Warners in proper society manners. When he tells Dot to 'make a little curtsy', Yakko and Wakko make fun of the phrasing. And then perform it themselves (using Wakko's sweater and Yakko's overly-baggy pants).
  • On Family Guy, Lois curtsies when she meets the Pope.
  • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: In "Show Me The Honey," Sally curtsies to the queen bee.
  • Pearl Pureheart curtsies after her dance in the Mighty Mouse cartoon "Happy Holland."
  • The Beatles: During the song segment of the episode "I'm Down," George bows to a little girl, who curtsies to him in return.
  • Sofia the First: It's taught at Royal Prep. Sofia receives lessons on that during her first day.

    Real Life 
  • At the close of every ballet class and performance, dancers perform what is known as "reverence", or a series of curtsies, to the teacher, the audience, and the orchestra/pianist, as applicable.
  • Often used by female Broadway performers during their curtain calls, particularly if their costume makes bowing awkward — for instance, the actress playing Christine in The Phantom of the Opera almost invariably curtsies due to her Victorian-era dress.
  • Many visitors to a Catholic church mistake the genuflect that both women and men do before sitting in a pew as a curtsy; if not explained beforehand, the friend sometimes trips over the host while sitting down.

Emotional TorqueUniversal TropesExplicit Content
English RoseWomen Are DelicateFainting
Coy, Girlish Flirt PoseGirly GirlThe Fashionista
Hey Arnold!ImageSource/Western AnimationLoving Bully
English RoseFemininity TropesThe Fashionista

alternative title(s): Every Proper Lady Should Curtsey
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