There are many good and bad stereotypes surrounding the South.
If you’ve never befriended a southerner, or your only experience with one was an interaction with a closed-minded, redneck type, I apologize. We are not all terrible, we are not all racist and we are not all conservative Republicans.
If you are from the South, you know there's nothing better than a Georgia Peach, an Alabama Belle or a Carolina Lady.
There are some things that only us GRITS (Girls Raised in The South) will understand:
Every southern woman LOVES her college team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she even attended the college, but someone in her family did, or it’s just in close proximity to the college that she did attend. Even if southern women don’t like sports, they love their SEC football… usually more so than their pro team.
I thought this was a normal thing until I lived outside the South and was served tea that wasn’t sweet. All tea in the South is sweet, unless you specifically ask for it unsweetened. In other parts of the country, you have to specify that you want sugar and lemon with your tea, and I find it very weird.
This is another southern staple. Grits with breakfast, grits with dinner (i.e. shrimp and grits), cheesy grits, smooth grits, lumpy grits, etc.
You get the point. Grits seem to be a foreign concept to those outside of the South, but once you've tasted them, you'll understand.
We love our collard greens, green beans, turnips greens, etc. We boil and season the heck out of our vegetables, to the point where they no longer taste like vegetables, but at least they are delicious.
You’ve never had real green beans unless you’ve had them southern style, boiled until tender, with a ham hock and chicken bouillon.
Taters, Mashed Taters and Sweet Taters
And don’t you ever correct us and call them “potatoes.”
There are HUGE differences in North Carolina BBQ, South Carolina BBQ and Georgia BBQ. Not all BBQ is the same.
Yes, the last few paragraphs have involved food, but food is important to us! We like to fry everything: fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried green tomatoes, etc. RIP cholesterol.
With our cooking, comes quantity. Southern women do not know how to cook small portions because most of us grew up in a large family. I used to joke and tell my grandma that she was cooking for an army. Now, I live alone and am cooking for one, yet somehow always end up cooking for at least four.
Some of y’all would refer to them as “fireflies.” Others would have no reference at all because, apparently, some parts of the country don’t get to see these amazing bugs.
Every southern girl has memories of catching these light-up creatures in glass mason jars, and waking up to see them dead the next morning. Sorry, we didn’t know any better, but they are still the ultimate sign of summer in the South.
Speaking of mason jars, most of us know these as the jars our grandmas put their fruit preserves in. We would later use them as drinking glasses.
The majority of southern women have participated in beauty pageants growing up -- some by choice and some by force. Some of us even continue these beauty pageants into adulthood for scholarships and such. It’s just a part of the lifestyle in the South.
Whiskey and Bourbon
You know the Carrie Underwood line: "Right now, he's probably buying her some fruity little drink cause she can't shoot whiskey." We take our brown liquor seriously and can probably drink you under the table. But, we are still expected to hold our liquor, because one must always be a lady.
We never leave the house looking a mess. Hair must be done, makeup must be on and we must look presentable. Appearance is important in the South, both fortunately and unfortunately. As someone once said, "You must always leave the house like you're about to meet the love of your life."
Words and Manners
Please do not judge us for using the word “y’all.” It is proper grammar, actually. It’s a contraction of “you all.”
“Finna" is the shorter version of, “fixin' to.” As in, “I’m fixin' to go the store.” Or, “ I’m about to go to the store.” Don’t ask me why or how it started; it just did and it stuck.
“Bless her heart” is not a sweet sentiment; it’s our nice way of insulting someone. Because, you know, we have southern hospitality and all. I never heard my grandma utter one ill word about anyone my entire life, and if my temper started to flare up, she would look at me and say, "Don't be ugly, Jess," which was her way of telling me not to be rude.
“Over yonder,” denotes that you are really really southern, but “down the street” is perfectly normal. Usually it doesn't actually mean something is just down the street. Even in cities, we don’t use a GPS or directions much, we just know where to turn and where not to.
There are many things that, us southern women are proud of, and many things that we are not proud of. But I would definitely like to unhinge the stereotype that southern women are domestic, submissive and uneducated. Not all of us go to college to get an MRS degree, and some of us do have goals and ambitions outside of making a family.
Sure, we may swap new recipes when we first see each other, but stick around a few more minutes, and y’all will see us get into political debates and issues facing the world, not just the South.
Photo via Tumblr