The Bewitching Power of ‘Miss’

On age and who we call what

Arielle Bernstein
Apr 3, 2020 · 7 min read
Illustration by Christina Yoseph

My first memory of being called “ma’am” was when I was a girl and a man with a thick Southern accent asked to speak to my mom.

“One second,” I told him.

“Thank you very much, ma’am,” he replied.

This first ma’am was oddly thrilling. To a child raised in the Northeast, being called ma’am…