I spent a considerable amount of time in the deep American South recently, and continue to spend time among the charming people from that part of the world.
Some observations I made about the slice of mighty fine Southern pie I got to try out:
- The gentleman is alive and well in the South my friends! I’m used to door holding, luggage lifting and other random kindness up north and out west. But the men of the South took it a whole new level :-) Despite the potentially hick accent, Southern men do the chivalrous thing with finesse, swagger, and a touch of folksy humor. It immediately livens things up a bit.
- With the gentleman act, the men do take the lead and have very dominant body language. You just see alllll man man man. This comes naturally to them because:
- Southern men love football. And beer. And getting into drunken bar brawls. It may seem foolish, but with the less litigous society down there, manly displays of power don’t have the same serious repurcussions they do elsewhere. A man who is willing to take and give a punch, man-to-man, is as macho as they get
- Southern men also love pick up trucks. Yes, the “Lifetime battered wife movie” type of pick up trucks. Big cars and trucks appeal to guys down there because men are supposed to be BIG and POWERFUL, and like big and powerful things. Also pickup trucks come in handy when you are hauling lumber to build and extension to your house on your own, or taking your camping gear into the woods, etc.
- Men down south have the sorts of real-life skills that most of us city folks take for granted. They can put together a bonfire in the neck of the woods in 5 minutes, they know about different sorts of handyman tools, they can hunt and fish. Few are wimpy clueless “city” boys; they could survive in caveman times if needed. Hot!
- And yes, the guys down there ARE big. Before you make jokes about fatty Southern cuisine (Paula “pork” Deen is popular for a reason), the men who can moderate themselves look healthy and buff. A few extra pounds on a man, particularly if he’s also doing physical work so he has plenty of muscle, is quite attractive.
- Don’t forget that all cities need doctors, mayors, businessmen, oil company executives, etc. The redneck stereotype applies more to the economically disadvantaged type of person who would live in a trailer; there are professionals down South too.
- Watch out for those Cowboy Casanova types however ;-)
- Someone told me that, “You know you’re back in the South when the girls in the airport start looking prettier.” It’s true, Southern women are pretty! It’s interesting how you start to notice the differences between merely average faces and truly elegant ones, when all women have pretty hair, pretty clothes, make-up and a feminine air.
- They look pretty because they take considerable care to look good. They get their hair done (sometimes still with a bit more volume than you’d see in Vogue). They wear make-up, sometimes generously. They wear bright and feminine clothes.
- Southern girls are into cooking and baking with a relish. They take pleasure in making delicious food, from pulled pork to pecan pie. The food is rich and hearty, and very bad for you, but it is oh-so-good. Also, the concept of cooking at home is alive and well. Food is just better for you when you use ingredients from the local farm and cook it at home. (And eat in moderation of course…)
- Just like their male counterparts they are charming! Every southern girl I met was as sweet as southern Sweet Tea (yum). Girls there flirt a lot, and throw a little sass in there too. I think that feminine charm+feistyness is an attractive way for southern girls to emphasize that they are empowered but haven’t forgotten what it means to be a woman either.
- They are into children. Again, I’m talking less about the really redneck deviant types and more about the upstanding citizens in society. The girls often have children early (out of wedlock even which is a surprise since church is so big). Families eat dinner and go to church together.
- Lots of books on Amazon about the secrets of Southern Women
Sidenote on Racism in the American South
First, apologies for not including pics. of the other racial half of the South – Black people! The best-looking Black Southern Gentleman I thought of was Denzel Washington; turns out he is from New York. But I think many if not most African-American have roots in the South and I think those who are active in church, for example, seem to have kept genteel traditions as a family thing. (Black friends of mine from the South who grew up normal [not urban/poor] seem to have exceptionally good manners; yes, it could just be a coincidence though.)
So when I have traveled down South, I have been pleasantly surprised to not be stopped by the police, eyed suspiciously, or lynched for looking like “one of them tarristss” or “Bin Lawden’s girl.”
Having origins in a country that people may only know about from “Slumdog Millionaire” (if even that), I felt OK. It seems like people will treat you with kindness and warmth no matter who you are, as long as you are the same way back. I think most people down South are focused on fun, friends, family, working and church… not one being racist pricks.
Racism does exist though. If you spend time with people from either the white or black camps, you’ll hear them openly criticize the other camp (n-bombs included). And when they run into one of “those” they know, they’ll give them a warm hug and reminisce about the good times they shared back in high school. Minutes after talking about “that kind” in very unflattering terms. People are funny.
In conclusion… it is so great to experience that Southern charm. Let’s just say I am one very lucky girl… ahem…! ;-)