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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Southern Stereotypes

As someone who was born and raised in Tennessee, one of my pet peeves is the southern stereotype.

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I googled "southerner" and this is what came up.

First things first, not that many people wear cowboy hats. Unless they're Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney (country music stars), most people just wear baseball caps if they wear a hat at all.

Next up, we are not all confederates. Many people assume that due to the historic nature of the region (aka The Civil War), that we are all racist bigots and honestly that's just offensive. This is not to say that there aren't any racist people in the South at all, because that would be a straight up lie. There are still active KKK chapters in my area, and although that is truly sad and disheartening, not everybody with a Southern accent is out to kill any and every person who doesn't look exactly like them.

We do not all have huge hair.

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Now, we do love Dolly Parton around here, but Steel Magnolias hair is not the norm, I promise."The higher the hair the closer to God," is not the beauty mantra around here! We actually wear our hair in whatever way is currently fashionable, or the way you would see someone's hair styled in a magazine.

A few years ago, I went to New York, and as I was on the subway, someone overheard my family and I talking and realized that we were from the South. Upon being asked, we told him that we were from Tennessee, and he was amazed that we were fully clothed in modern garb, and that my everyone in my family had a full set of straight teeth. He promptly told us that he didn't think that people in Tennessee had teeth, wore shoes, or went to school. Naturally, I told him that I had shoes on, that I always did, and that I was currently enrolled in a prep school and taking a full AP course load. Needless to say, he was absolutely dumbfounded.

In my experience, TV is the worst about encouraging some of these stereotypes.

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No one, and I mean no one, says "dang flabbit." Billy Ray is not an accurate representation of the south. And neither is the Robertson clan of A&E's "Duck Dynasty."

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They are an extremely successful family, and they do hold some wonderful values. However, they drive home the standard view that we all wear camo and that we kill all of our own food. No.

There's a saying that we are "American by birth, and southern by the grace of God." I love being from the South. There's a culture of hospitality and general friendliness that I have yet to experience anywhere else. I find it very frustrating whenever I travel that people automatically assume the italicized things about me just because of my hometown. After coming home from a trip exasperated and fed up today, I hope that you all can see that the standard view of the southerner just is not the accurate one anymore.

xx, Victoria
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xx, Victoria