How To Bette Better

An image taken from a moment in Of Human Bondage, where Bette Davis' character looks in a severely haughty manner. It is the face of Sneer Campaign. The words written over the image say, "Blessed Bette of Our Eternal Sneers, grant unto us thine moxie."

Our Beloved Saint, Bette Davis, is an icon not only to ourselves for casting the haughtiest sneers in motion pictures, but to many around the world for being an extraordinarily strong and independent woman. On April 5th of every year, we celebrate St Bette Day through the solemn watching of made-for-tv biographies, the reading of her direct quotes, and through the repeated listening of “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes.

Sure, we would all like to be more like Bette Davis. Men and women alike daydream about possessing even a tenth of her personal strength — which she displayed both on and off the screen in (some might say) overabundance. She had an almost inhuman level of self-confidence. She rose above the unrealistic standards of silver screen goddess beauty, ignored the insults to her physical appearance, and became one of our greatest actresses — even at one point she was the highest paid woman in America! Her attitude is equally as legendary, and it was all because of it that she succeeded at all. She was and still is an incredible icon.

Be Tough

If you read even scant summaries of her life’s journey, it is well-noted that Bette Davis had to frequently fight studio heads for good roles and fair treatment. She would confront her bosses and her directors whenever she felt that she was not being given a fair shake. Eternally vigilant, and apparently with boundless energy, she fought hard for the betterment of all in her trade.

We should all be more confrontational in the face of the established order of things, which is all too frequently in the Wrong. Organize with your workmates in order to defeat bad bosses, or if you are in the position to hold a lot of sway as Bette was, stand alone. Be unafraid of consequences or bad reputations.

Speak Your Mind

If things were unfair, she pointed it out. If someone was being stupid, she said so directly to that person, often in front of a group. Her opinions were not kept secret, and it sounded as though she had plenty of opinions. This made Bette Davis an unpleasant person to deal with, if you happened to be wrong or in any way unpopular with her. Some people find the lack of tact to be too abrasive, but I am sure she would tell them that that’s too bad and that life is tough that way.

Ms Davis may have been an extreme of this personality type, but I agree strongly with the idea that it is better than being too afraid to call out nonsense. If you don’t state outright that you dislike something, can you ever expect it to be immediately corrected?

Demand Excellence

A lifelong workaholic, Bette Davis was a professional. She said herself that she would most like to be remembered as a hard worker who did her best. She always had her lines memorized and would be on time. She seldom let personal grudges interfere (much) with scenes being filmed. She expected this same level of desire of perfection from everyone she worked with, too.

Illustration of Bette Davis looking older and tough, saying, "there's only one way to work -- like hell!"

Apparently, during the times she was not working ceaselessly, she would treat her time off as another highly-efficient business plan. She was very organized and goal-oriented. It is always a delight to discover that a beloved saint of one quality in your religion actually has several more qualities that you also love. What an inspiration. Bette Davis: patron saint of strength of character and goal-achieving.

Be Grateful

In my cram session of learning about Bette Davis over the past 24 hours as though this is a school assignment that I put off until the last day, I repeatedly read that Bette Davis, contrary to her reputation of being difficult and unfriendly, would be incredibly kind to her fans. Also, she reportedly told her son and her friends that without her fans, she wouldn’t have anything at all. That kind of gratitude marks her as an outstanding and good human being, one who understands the importance of staying humble, of giving credit where it is due.

This is one of those shareable inspirational memes that says this quote: "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."

It is of a hand holding a flower in front of a lake and mountain. Only I have replaced the hand with the sneer campaign Bette Davis looking over smugly.
You’re welcome for the modified inspirational image.

Those are all great wonderful things, of course — things we really all should strive towards, if it benefits us. But I know why everyone is actually here. That is why I have supplied you with this excellent infographic to help you along on your journey of Bette-ness.

An infographic called how to be bette-er featuring an illustration of Bette Davis in her role as Margo Channing.

A line to her forehead says "know your worth". A line to her eyes says "judge, sneer, disagree, all with the eyes." A line to her mouth says "be difficult, say everything!" and her cigarette is circled and says "smoke 100 cigarettes every day." 

Along the bottom in larger writing it says "be larger than life."

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