I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, attended and graduated from Tucker High School followed by the University of Georgia and lived in Georgia for 50 years. I have a great deal of experience in being Southern.
That said, I am not a good Southern Belle.
For those of you who are uninformed about Southern ladies; there are a lot of rules. Things that must be remembered and feared, lest you provide fodder for gossip.
My mother was a Greatest Generation Southern Belle raised in South Georgia who believed in and followed the rules. She did her best to imbue me with the knowledge of how to be a proper Southern Belle. It worked better on my sister.
While many people have been impressed with my memory; these rules did not stay with me.
Here are the ten reasons I am not a good Southern Belle:
1. I like dark meat chicken salad. Go figure, an old friend of mine (a gay man) from extreme southwestern Georgia told me the women in his hometown gossiped about ladies who use dark meat in chicken salad. I can believe it.
2. I have limited variety in my shoe wardrobe and I hate white shoes. To be properly southern you must follow shoe color restrictions during certain seasons. It is considered very bad form to wear white shoes or certain articles of white clothing before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Winter white is an exception, but there are additional rules for that. Patent leather shoes are another big deal. In my opinion, if you are in high school you are too old for patent leather shoes.
3. I detest Euphemisms: no Southern lady ever farted, pooped or sweated. They “make smells”, “have a BM”, and “glow”. I find Midwesterners very refreshing in this regard. They call it like they smell it, hear it or see it. I married one.
4. I like wearing black to weddings, black is slimming. If you are truly a Belle there is no wearing of black to weddings, with the exception of shoes and accessories, that is OK. The inference (supposedly) is mourning of bride or groom’s mistake. Really, the little black dress should go everywhere.
5. Vulgarity in many cases is amusing. Southern ladies say “Don’t be vulgar”…why not? It’s fun.
6. I enjoyed swimming as a teenager, but was told “Women of your breeding don’t go to the swimming pool” I was always flummoxed by this; especially since there was no air conditioning?
7. I believe health problems should be recognized for what they are. We have no alcoholics or addicts; there is “hardening of the liver” or “a little problem” I have heard someone say “his liver is like a hockey puck” Colon cancer is not considered a topic for polite conversation.
8. I am pretty certain all women go through menopause. Southern ladies just don’t admit it. I can remember seeing my mother sweating profusely in the middle of winter and asking her about it. “Nothing was wrong, Daddy had the thermostat set too high”, she said. Then she told me it only took her one day to go through menopause and it was no problem. I am still choking on that one.
9. Not freezing at Easter; I think this is a good idea. A proper Belle breaks out and wears their spring clothes at Easter regardless of the weather. You would think this is where winter white would be a good idea. I think you have to stop wearing winter white before Easter. But I really never got the whole winter white thing.
10. The best reason is the last. My father was from Connecticut. My mother explained Southerners should always marry Yankees to assure the viability of the gene pool. It gave me a good reason to wear white in October and go to the swimming pool. My Yankee genes must be dominant.