What Would Elizabeth Bennet Do? Or, How to Kick A** in a Corset

This post is sponsored by Kicking Ass in a Corset by Andrea Kayne, available now wherever books are sold.

Have you ever thought about why we all want to be Lizzy Bennet so much?

I know I’ve subconsciously (and sometimes intentionally) shaped my personality, and even made decisions, based on my deep emotional connection and identification with Elizabeth Bennet, ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was 15. Elizabeth’s wit, intelligence, and playfulness are all qualities I’ve tried to emulate—with varying degrees of success—throughout my teen and adult life.

But beyond these personality traits, I think there’s something deeper about Lizzy, about who she is as a person, that makes so many of us aspire to be just like her. I think it’s because she has this innate sense of her own value. She knows who she is and what she’s worth, and she doesn’t compromise that, even when society tells her differently.

And yes, we also want to be her because she marries our favorite book boyfriend, Mr. Darcy. But even when she’s a rich married lady and mistress of Pemberley, we know that she’s still going to be the same Lizzy.

I love what Andrea Kayne wrote in Kicking Ass in a Corset, that “we put Elizabeth in our lives when we strive truly to live from the inside out,” and that we are like Lizzy “when we value ourselves with steadfast constancy, irrespective of anything we achieve or don’t achieve in the outside world.”

We put Elizabeth in our lives when we strive truly to live from the inside out.

Andrea Kayne

As I’m about eight months into earning my master’s degree, the idea of thinking of myself as having innate value, regardless of my achievements, is incredibly empowering. I’m proud of my accomplishments, and I have goals to accomplish more, but those aren’t what make me who I am or give me value as a person.

Kayne’s book found me at the seemingly perfect time in my life, as my current courses in grad school focus on communications and leadership, and as I am thinking about how I want to lead and create in my chosen field. Reading the book felt like chatting with a really encouraging friend, and since I’m an avid Jane Austen fan (as you know if you’ve spent any time around here!), framing the leadership concepts through Austen heroines felt organic and made the book a really engaging read.

Every Austen heroine has something to teach us, and each gets her own chapter (except Marianne Dashwood, which bums me out a little, but that’s okay…). I can see pieces of myself in each of the heroines–and I think most readers will be able to do likewise–but of course the heroine I always come back to is Elizabeth Bennet. And I think her chapter is the one that resonated most for me.

The introduction to the chapter advises:

Like Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, know your own internal and inherent value, especially in external environments that intentionally or unintentionally devalue you or create other outer conditions of unworthiness.

While Lizzy’s wit and intelligence are definitely qualities worth having, what makes her who she is is what Kayne calls her “steadfast constancy,” her refusal to allow herself to be undervalued by anyone. As Elizabeth tells Mr. Darcy, “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

I am Lizzy Bennet, and so are you! Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

Questions for thought:

  • Do you identify at all with Elizabeth Bennet? Or is there another Austen heroine you see yourself in?
  • Have you ever thought about what Jane Austen’s heroines can teach us about leadership and self-development?
  • What does the phrase “internally referenced leadership” mean to you?

Book: Kicking Ass in a Corset: Jane Austen’s Six Principles for Living and Leading from the Inside Out

Author: Andrea Kayne

Description from the Publisher:

What can women in business, education, government, and most any enterprise learn from an unemployed, unmarried woman who lived in patriarchal, misogynistic rural England more than 200 years ago? As it turns out, a great deal. In identifying the core surprising internal superpowers of Austen’s heroines—confidence, pragmatism, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility —Andrea Kayne develops the six principles of what she has conceptualized as Internally Referenced Leadership™.

Kicking Ass in a Corset: Jane Austen’s Six Principles for Living and Leading from the Inside Out is for women in leadership or who want to be in leadership in their professional but most importantly in their personal lives. This book is for anyone who wants to tap into their internal superpowers. Utilizing practical exercises, real-life case studies, and scholarship, Kicking Ass in a Corset™ provides a roadmap that teaches women of any age or profession how to tune out the external noise and listen to themselves.

Kicking Ass in a Corset is available everywhere books are sold!


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