Student or Learner
The passage below is an excerpt from a novel. In the scene, several women are on a nearly packed elevator to visit a fortune-teller.
"...They (the women on the elevator) tried to hang apart, using their elbows in a ladylike way, but using them, and saying politely, 'Pardon,' or 'I'm sorry,' when the crush brought them too close. On such occasions the lift, loaded to capacity, made heavy work of it....
I'd like to ask the meaning of "using their elbows in a ladylike way, but using them..."
Is the narrator saying that even though the way the women used their elbows was ladylike, they actually used them?