The Language of the Fan

It might very well be impossible to be a costumer and not have heard of “The Language of the Fan.” It’s like Latin – we all know it existed, but few of us actually know how to speak it today. Even better, our missiles of fan-based communication don’t seem to hit the intended targets: men, who are definitely NOT “bi-lingual.”

Yet we still carry fans. We carry them for practical reasons, to fan ourselves furiously to keep from passing out in the Hot Hot Heat (technical term). Yet who KNOWS what we are saying as we rapidly attempt to reduce our body temperatures, or as we indulge our oral fixations and nibble on the corners of the fan, or as the lack of oxygen being afforded our corseted bodies causes us to yawn…politely behind our fans. Well, I’m here to tell you.

Ladies, I give your your first foreign language lesson, that of The Fan:

Hiding Your Eyes Behind an Open Fan – “I love you, I want your babies”
Shutting an Open Fan Slowly – “I promise to marry you, if you just hurry up and ask already!”
Touching the Tip of the Fan – “Get over here, I want to talk to you”
Dropping The Fan – “We will be friends, just friends, so don’t try anything, Mr.”
Fanning Slowly – “I am married, and sooo bored, see how slowly I’m fanning myself?”
Fanning Quickly – “I am engaged, wheeee!!!”
Placing the Handle of the Fan to Your Lips – “Kiss me, or I’ll eat this fan”
Drawing the Fan Across the Forehead – “You have changed…not sure if I like it or not yet”
Twirling the Fan In The Left Hand – “We Are being Watched, and I’m fully ready to deploy my ninja skills”
Twirling the Fan in the Right Hand – “I love someone else, and I’m fully ready to deploy my ninja skills”
Quickly Closing the Fan With Some Force – “I am jealous, and I’m fully ready to deploy my ninja skills”
Placing The Fan Near Your Heart – “You have won my love. Baby, baby, can’t you see my heart beat?”

This is just a smattering of the many things you can say with your fan. According to this, I’ve told many lies! Of course, I believe that The Fan merely gave ladies something to do with their hands while, just like today, the heavy-duty work of flirtation was done with the eyes. The Fan merely provided a stage and a prop by which to feature the eyes (and lips too). allowing ladies to hide their faces or show them, fidget nervously with something, and also tell all to their crushes without actually telling anything. Sound familiar? Not much has changed!

What are you saying (or NOT saying) with YOUR fan? What are some other “fan phrases” you know of? Please leave comments!


  • Jenny

    October 5, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    Snapping the fan shut very quickly – "I am angry or seriously displeased."

    Hiding the face – "I just embarrassed myself big time, am I blushing?"

    Tapping someone lightly on the shoulder – Not sure what this means yet, I just do it!

    Smacking someone with a closed fan – "You beast!"

  • The Dreamstress

    October 6, 2009 at 1:39 AM

    The only ones I know are rapping across the other party's knuckles to let them know they are going a little too far, and stabbing them with your fan-knife, which is pretty self explanatory!

  • E. Waterman

    October 6, 2009 at 5:24 PM

    I dont think I have ever laughed so hard at any of your blogs, as I can hear the lauren speech in the text and it makes me laugh.

    "I am ready to deploy my ninja skills."

    Ive discovered tapping mine furiously on my thigh means im being HORRIBLY IMPATIENT. and am ready to deploy my ninja skills as well.

    Also, dipping my head and covering but my eyes and raising an eyebrow means I dare you to come talk to me.

  • Angela

    October 6, 2009 at 6:43 PM

    Yes, this was a fabulous read! I was proctoring a test and was sneeking in a few peeks at my fav blogs and read this. I had to stifle the giggles. I can just see a lady dressed in the height of 18th century fashion doing a ninja move on the dude who wasn't paying attention to twirling fan in right hand. Thanks for the language lesson!

  • Fiona-Jane Brown

    October 6, 2009 at 11:38 PM

    Hee hee, I actually saw the 'Language of the Fan' in a girls' annual that my mum had dated 1953! If I can find it, I'll scan the article – it's everything you've said, only with the 1950s demureness that you body-swerved much to all our amusement!

    You should start a cartoon strip!

    Oh, and Geishas cannot fan themselves, the fan is part of their dances!

  • Lauren R

    October 7, 2009 at 11:36 PM

    Maybe I WILL start a comic strip! Great idea, FJ!

    And of course, we all know transitional stays were created for greater range of motion in order to do impressive ninja-like acrobatics and deadly high kicks!

  • Anonymous

    October 9, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    The first picture at the top of this post is Lilie Langtry. It's a nice picture I haven't seen before:) "the language of the fan" always makes me smile. The power of advertising. It was invented in the 18th century to advertise dancing classes I think it was..and it worked..I've seen research going back to it's 18th century origins and it's just amazing how it keeps poping up. You can't keep a good idea down:)

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