Much of my family lives back East, Yankees if you will, or in the sunny Southwest. We’re spread out across the United States, but when we get together, sometimes I have a feeling that they think I don’t live in the same country. Not sure how things got so lost in translation but let’s face it, stereotypes rain over us in the South. Obviously, lots of groups deal with inaccurate and unfair misconceptions, but there are so many we Southerners deal with it could fill up a whole article. This article.
I polled family, friends and friends of friends to find out about personal Southern misconceptions, and I organized these grievances by category. So here’s a look into what really dills our pickles …
Speaking of “dills our pickles,” have you ever noticed that many people above the Mason-Dixon line think we Southerners speak in all colloquialisms with cutesy greeting card-esque one-liners? For the most part, my social circle uses good, old English and proper syntax.
Another massive Southern misconception is that our accents and love of descriptive idioms make us “simple folk.” We’re just as intelligent as our peers in other places in the country — many of us go to college, earn degrees, write books, engineer inventions, shape policy and help impact the world. But no matter how educated and cultured, a Southern twang just instills a sense of slowness. Those of us in the South shouldn’t feel completely alone — accent bias is a real thing all over the world.
Sure, we may combine syllables to create new words like “y’all” and “who dat,” but we also speak with manners, gentility and courtesy. Everyone gets a “Mister” or “Miss.” And most of the time we really are that nice.
I realize that some misconceptions are based in a nugget of reality. For example, out of the 10 most obese cities in the country, seven of those exist in the South, and in that way, I can understand why some may think we don’t watch what we eat here. But c’mon, it seems like outsiders believe we deep fry everything and slather it in mayo and Tony’s. Be honest, EVERYONE likes fried chicken, not just people in the South! No, grits aren’t always served as a side dish (and there’s no such thing as a “grit tree”). We don’t all drink 64 ounces of
wine of the south sweet tea and Coke.
Seersucker is the unofficial uniform of the South, and though it has its place at specific events, northerners should know we wear lots of things besides the pattern. In fact, there are some majorly fashionable cities, like Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville, helping set trends in other parts of the country.
Not sure if monogramming is a “style,” but lots of us, especially moms, love letting the world know who we are by stitching initials into jackets, towels, bags and, of course, that Southern staple, the smocked dress. But that’s just one group of people who enjoy showing off our initials. I’m not saying we Southerners can’t rock the hell out of a pastel dinner coat, patterned bow tie and matching mother-daughter Lilly Pulitzer dresses, but our closets are also filled with tons of other fashionable pieces. All you have to do is take a look at the gorgeous threads on our What to Wear page to take a peek at all the great looks coming out of our region!
Erase that image of “The Dukes of Hazzard” out of your head because, shocker, many of us Southerners drive normal cars (i.e. sans confederate flags murals) on normal, non-dirt roads. We drive pickup trucks in probably the same percentage as the rest of Americans who have jobs and require extra storage and towing capacity. And if you get lost on one of our roads, don’t worry about hearing a menacing banjo riff a la Deliverance. Here’s a rundown of some common misconceptions and my rebuffs:
- We’re uneducated: See Language section above
- We’re super conservative: There are lots of red states in our region so, perhaps that’s the majority. But when does “majority” mean “entirety”? There are lots of liberal, blue-minded thinkers here, too.
- We have two names: I’d say this one is actually kind of true.
- We have kissing cousins: I won’t dignify this one with a response.
- We’re Bible thumpers: Some worshippers are quite outspoken; some prefer to keep their religious preferences to themselves. And dare I say, some Southerners may not believe in a higher power at all. To each his own.
We Southerners are regular folk. We may enjoy rich foods, share pleasantries and niceties quite willingly, embrace colorful styles and, most importantly, want to try and shed blanket misconceptions and stereotypes. The next time one of your pals from way up north asks where your pickup is or how many guns you have, correct their error and educate them about the real South of today. And if that doesn’t work, well then, bless her heart.
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