Growing up in the South can be a rich cultural experience, complete with distinct food, music, architecture, customs and local spirit. But when you leave your home below the Mason-Dixon line to live "up north," you tend to get asked some pretty strange questions -- like, "Do you have a rifle in your bedroom?", "Where do you keep your horse?", "Will you be my little southern belle?" and "Why are you saying 'y'all'? Didn't you go to school?"
These questions may be funny at first, but after a while, they start to become a little more troubling. Contrary to what you might draw from popular culture, women from the South are diverse individuals, not a singular unit of one-dimensional stereotypes. While many aspects of the way people perceive southern women may be true for some -- or even many -- actual southern women, it’s not OK to assume we all conform to the same mold.
As two women who grew up down south, but now live among the Yankees, here are 19 things we'd like to clear up:
1. Just because we say "y’all" doesn’t mean we’re uneducated -- it’s actually a great gender-neutral plural pronoun.
2. We wear shoes.
3. We don’t keep rifles in our bedrooms.
4. We also don’t exclusively wear camo or spend every day planning our next duck hunting trip.
5. Just like everywhere else, there is political diversity in the South. Don't assume you know our political views without having a conversation with us.
6. Our accents don't define our intelligence.
7. We don’t all have horses.
8. In fact, we didn’t all grow up in the country or the woods. There are actual cities south of the Mason-Dixon line (and some of them even have international airports!).
9. Our highest aspiration is not to dance in the bed of a pickup truck. And while we’re on that subject, country music video girls aren’t accurate representations of all southern girls.
10. We eat more than cornbread, fried chicken, grits, biscuits, gravy, casseroles and collard greens. But also, all of those things are delicious. They call it comfort food for a reason.
11. We’re not inbred. Seriously. Stop joking about that.
12. We don’t go to college to get an "MRS degree." Southern women are just as driven, hardworking and ambitious as women in the rest of the country. A "ring before spring" is not the ultimate goal for most of us.
13. We’re not lazy, even if we talk with a drawl.
14. We’re not all obsessed with football. Contrary to what "Friday Night Lights" might make you think, not every community in the South centers around the big game each week.
15. We don’t wear Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots all day. Not to say we don't spend plenty of time in shorts. It can get pretty hot in the South.
16. We don’t live to fawn over men.
17. Our music tastes expand beyond country music. Musical artists like Beyoncé, Kings Of Leon, Iron and Wine, Frank Ocean and Widespread Panic are from the South.
18. We’re not southern belles, Georgia peaches, or dixie chicks -- we’re people. Those may be cutesy phrases you see on women’s-fit t-shirts, but let’s keep them there.
19. We are not all alike. That’s the beauty of southern women, and, heck, women in general -- we’re all so wonderfully different.
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