When people think of a Southern belle, they imagine a blonde-haired, blue-eyed damsel in distress. For us Southern WOC, we’re often left out from the Belle narrative. Yet, we’re still proud of our ethnic and religious identities and embrace the good aspects of our region. Southern WOC are a diverse group, but it’s nice to appreciate the things that unite us. Whether you hail from Texas or Tennessee, Alabama or West Virginia, here’s a few things that your Southern heart knows to be true.
1. You say things like “ya’ll,” “bless your heart,” and “fixin’ to.”
2. Tailgating is life, but you stay woke on the NFL’s issues on sexism, racism, and homophobia.
Tailgates are an extension of your social scene. However, you’re mindful of the NFL’s systemic issues on racism, sexism, and homophobia. If you’re a woke Southern Belle of Color, you’d rather spend $100 buying food for a tailgate than spend $1 on football tickets for an NFL game. You support your local femme-run catering businesses and NOT the billionaire, Trump-supporting owners of the NFL.
3. If the weather is above 70°F, there will be sandals on your feet.
Whether they are Birkenstock’s, Chaco’s, Jack Rogers’, or the 95 cent neon orange flip flops from Old Navy, you’ve got sandals on your feet. For most Southern states, the weather is cold three months out of the entire year. Thus, sandals and flip flops are a staple in every southern girl’s wardrobe. Bonus points if your sandals ripped during the most inconvenient of times, like unexpected heavy rain, a football game, or in the middle of the work day.
4. Argue with white people over Confederate monuments, race, slavery, etc.
It’s not your job to educate May Ellen and Bobby Kay (and even fellow POC) about the nuances of race, class, and gender. Yet sometimes, you just get the urge to call out a Confederate sympathizer. Maybe you’ve even gotten the urge to slap somebody for the hateful and ignorant things they spew. It’s okay; we’ve all been there. Southern Belles of color keep it moving and we don’t let bigots keep us from ~shining~
5. Two words: BIG HAIR
The bigger the hair, the closer to heaven, right? A Southern woman’s prized possession is her hair. We spend hours putting in oils, lotions, serums, masks, and conditioners to make sure our locks are on point. Yet somehow, we make it look easy. Our effortless beauty is a hallmark and we embrace it to the fullest.
6. Are you even drinking a canned beverage if it’s not in one of these?
Whether you call them koozies, drink insulators, or “that foam thing for your drink,” you probably have a few of these by accident or are building a collection. For me, they pop out of nowhere and keep accumulating in my kitchen drawers. But whether you have them by chance or just love to collect them, you can’t go to an outdoor event in the South without seeing at least five of them.
7. Monogram. On everything.
Because everyone needs to know your initials. Also, bonus points if your monograms incorporate Lilly Pulitzer prints.
8. Constantly being surrounded by guns.
It’s not a secret people like guns in the South. You may have even gone to a restaurant or church and saw somebody bring their gun inside. The way some people show off their rifles, AK’s, and uzi’s can be unnerving. That’s why you have no-go list of neighborhoods, streets, and cities where you feel unsafe as a WOC.
9. Own at least one Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, or any other brand of bright printed dress.
The vivid colors and prints look amazing on your melanated skin and they’re just cute! If you were a Southern girl on a budget and couldn’t get a Lilly dress, then Rainbow and the Walmart store brand were your next best bet. #notashamed
10. Own at least one big, floppy hat.
The sun is 2489794379 times hotter and brighter in the South, so you need all the UV protection you can get. A Southern woman’s hat is a reflection of her personality. Bold, colorful, or modest: it’s your decision on what mood you want to convey through your floppy hat. Bonus points if your hat has your initials monogrammed on it.
11. Appreciation for your state’s signature food (and seasoning said food generously).
Whether it’s barbecue, cornbread, fried Twinkies, jambalaya, rice and beans, or just good old-fashioned collard greens, you love your region’s food. Also, a bona fide Southern WOC foodie knows that the best food is found at the ugliest, most beat down restaurants.
12. Accept that your body will always be covered in sweat.
Oh baby, let’s not even get started. A good summer morning is one spent in an air-conditioned room Netflix binging.
13. “I’ll pray on that.”
For Muslim Southern Belles of Color, it’s usually an “inshallah.” You usually hear this after you ask your momma for something and she doesn’t want to give an outright “no.” Religion and Southern living are as entangled as kittens playing in yarn. You’ll even find yourself saying “I’ll pray for that,” even if you’re not religious.
14. Spend hours on your hair only to watch it frizz up into oblivion within five minutes of stepping outside.
The majority of the Southeastern United States is a humid mess. With global warming destroying the climate balance, it’s just going to get even worse from here on out. You can bet your boots I will be armed with a bottle of hairspray.
15. But when the weather is amazing, you’ll soak up the sun.
Whether it’s a walk in the woods or a full-blown beach weekend with your best friends, a Southern Belle of Color will always talk time for nature-inspired self-care.
16. “You’re not like other *insert minority group here* girls”
You will always get really close to slapping the person who said it to you. If a Southern Belle of Color had a dollar for every time somebody said that to her, she’d have enough money to buy the entire state of Alabama.