Monday, June 4, 2012

Southern Belles Do Not Get Mad, Y'all

I don't like reality shows. For one thing, there is no "reality" in them. All the Housewives of (Insert City of Choice Here) are just not believable except, maybe, to people who do NOT live in that particular area of the country. I'm especially appalled at the hair-trigger affinity for the women to be one eye-roll away from launching into cussing, pushing, hair-pulling, weave-snatching, cat-fighting, lip-splitting, face-spitting and family-bashing, stopping just short of cap-busting with their pistols. And this mess happens in the country clubs, not just the bars, beaches, bistros and beauty salons! Now, I can understand these shenanigans going down in Yankee Territory, but not south of the Mason Dixon line. I mean, who doesn't know that Southern Belles were taught to behave? We, quite simply, do not get mad.

From the time we are in tiny smocked dresses and ruffle-reared diaper covers, Southern Belles are instructed to play nice and act like ladies. We are taught to share our toys, not to act "ugly," that "pretty is as pretty does," not to act like "heathens" and to follow the Golden Rule...all honorable and virtuous traits and teachings. We are not allowed to have anything to do with any emotion that even comes close to resembling the "a" word (ssshhh...anger) and, as a result, we turn to less-than-mentally-healthy methods of coping and conveying. But still, we do NOT get mad.

We cry buckets of tears while "overcome with emotion" when the neighbor boy blows our favorite doll's right eye out with his Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun. We feel just a tad "ill" with a friend when she, for the forty-eleventh time, untruthfully tells the kids on the bus that we are stuffing our training bras. We are a "little miffed" when the girl who actually is stuffing her bra takes our first boyfriend away. But, we do NOT get mad.

I believe the art of passive-aggressive behavior was birthed in the South. Most Southern Belles should list it among their attributes on their resumes. Some, however, are far more adept at covering up their true intentions and emotions than others. The really, really good ones never allow that toothpaste ad grin to leave their faces, even while they are plunging a dainty silver letter opener into your back. The less adept ones resort to pouting, remaining in silence until asked what is wrong, then answering in a one-word soliloquy: "Nothing." I have known Southern Belles who have sent gifts of one-year-old-expired cookies to a "friend" to convey her trues sentiments about said friend. Another Southern Belle gave a friend a broken brooch that she didn't want anymore declaring she thought the friend "Would just love it." Then you have those who try oh-so-hard to live like the Bibles says but are still feeling a bit peeved, so they bust their friend out in church by asking for prayer for them, then sharing some confidential piece of gossipy information that is supposed to be the "subject" of the requested prayers when it's just a way to let a whole roomful of women in on some tidbit of scandal or misfortune.

You will find that a Southern Belle, when out of sorts, is aggravated, riled, upset, irked, annoyed, bothered, nettled, bugged or peeved or that someone has gotten on her last nerve. If you are around a Southern Belle long enough you are bound to hear her say, "Well, bless her heart." Now that sounds like the words of a friend deeply touched by another friend's sad news or trouble, and it can be. But here's the tricky part for non-Southerners...the whole "Bless her heart" sentiment, many times, acts as an addendum and buffer to having just said something "ugly" about another person. Example: "Since Sally Mae stays up at her Momma's place five nights a week to watch old reruns of Andy Griffith with her, then falls asleep on the couch instead of being at home with her husband, he got tired of being neglected and ran off with the new girl down at the Beauty Barn. Sally Mae is real tore up about it...bless her heart." See how blame or scorn can masquerade as compassion?

Southern Belles are not big on name-calling...we were just taught it wasn't nice and there is a plethora of adages designed to teach lessons about it. So, we resort to euphemisms, which deal a softer blow, flow more easily from the mouth, taste less bitter on the tongue and are less grating on the ear. Instead of calling Betty Lou "wild," we say she is "free-spirited." Daisy Sue isn't a "crazy drunk", she's a "mess." Tawny Lee isn't a "floozy" who dances on the table tops at the honky-tonk..she is a "live wire." And Birdie Jean isn't a, well, I can't say that word because I'm a Southern Belle.  Let's just say she likes men...a lot.

There will be one time and one time only when you see a Southern Belle come close to what Yankees call being "mad" and that is when someone/life/circumstance has been really, realy ugly to her and she throws a full-on hissy fit! A hissy fit is an emotional outburst, a grown-up temper tantrum, that occurs when things have reached the breaking point or something is considered beyond unacceptable. The term is believed to be a contraction, of sorts, for the words "hysterical fit." Us Southerners are known to shorten our words, run our words together or invent new words to save time. So, this explanation of the term "hissy fit" seems plausible to me.

If you know, are married to, are related to or encounter a Southern Belle and she tells you she's not mad, she really thinks she means it. Southern Belles, as we've determined, do not get mad. I know the fallout can sometimes appear the same as those Yankee women who do get mad, but that's merely a coincidence. A Southern Belle will continue to be as sweet as the syrup at the bottom of a Mint Julep and as charming, gracious and hospitable as you would find her any ol' day of the week, even if she's miffed. If the day should ever come when a Southern Belle actually did get mad and admit it, well, bless her heart...and yours, too, if you were the one who caused it.

I Feel a Hissy Fit Comin' On


  1. HAHAHAHA. this must mean I am Southern.... minus the Belle... because it is the exact opposite of me. It also belies my Yank family. Maybe the exposure during family reunions tweaked their stereotypical personality development.

  2. Stacy, that's are perfect just as you are. There are all kinds of Southern! I know some who throw down when the occasion calls for it and will spit in your eye with no apologies. We are all strong Southern women and we have to stand united! I think it's inevitable that we are going to adopt family traits. The success comes from learning (to use a true "Southernism") to "rise above our raisin'!" ♥

  3. The Southern Belle cultural phenomenon should be studied thoroughly in universities and taught in schools under a passive aggressive sub-type. I have married into a "southern" family and I am hispanic. These women are driving me crazy. Come out and say what you mean and mean what you say!! Passive aggressive behavior can be very damaging and the Southern Belle has raised it to an ARTFORM.


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