Five Secrets of the Southern Belle
As someone who fancies herself a Southern Belle in another lifetime, I was excited to read Phaedra Parks’s new book Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun and Never Have an Off Moment.
Because my parents raised me and my sister with manners (and my family has Southern roots), most of the book came off as common sense i.e., be nice; never show up to a party empty handed; always say “please” and “thank you,” etc. But there were a few parts where Parks came across as, how to say this, a bit pretentious when addressing “Northerners,” as she calls them/us.
My advice is to take the book with a grain of salt as it’s meant to be entertaining. Admittedly, there are a few lessons we can all take away from this modern-day etiquette book of sorts and it is with that I present to you five Southern Belle-isms, courtesy of Miss Phaedra Parks:
1. Compliments will get you anywhere. You know that old adage if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all? That doesn’t apply to Southern Belles. They will find something to compliment you on (your hair, shoes, nails, etc.) even if they hate it and think it’s completely tacky. Just part of that Southern charm.
2. Thank-you cards are mandatory. No, ladies, a polite email will not suffice. I know, I know…it’s super easy to shoot off a quick text or email these days, but a true Southern Belle knows the importance of stationery for every occasion. Also, choose your paper carefully. You wouldn’t send a hot pink note with glitter to a grieving widow, now would you? Of course not.
3. Be a dutiful bridesmaid. No matter how fugly the dress is, no matter how hideous the shoes are. Simply smile and ask the lovely bride if there is anything else you can do to help. After all, you attract more flies with honey, as the old folks would say. And, most importantly, it’s Not. Your. Wedding!! This, however, does not give anyone license to be a bridezilla.
4. Dress appropriately. “Everybody knows…show your legs or your bust, but never both,” says Parks. Southern Belles successfully manage to look sexy and classy at the same time. She knows proper undergarments are a must and never leaves the house without her hair and makeup looking fabulous…even if it means waking up at 6:30 a.m. to do so (?!). Remember: Pearls, pantyhose and pumps are a Southern Belle’s best friends.
5. Act like a lady, think like Belle. Sure, you may not really be a damsel in distress, but you should definitely use your femininity to your advantage, according to Parks. Of course, you’re entirely capable of opening doors and carrying groceries by yourself, but why should you? If there’s a nice and willing man nearby, Parks suggests you allow him to do so for you, thank him and compliment him accordingly. This way, everyone wins.
Want more? Pick up your copy of Secrets of a Southern Belle for $19.77 at BarnesandNoble.com and stay tuned for this staffer’s “Day in the Life of a Southern Belle” report.
Your Turn: Are you a Southern Belle with secrets to share? Let us know in the comments and tweet #SouthernBelleSecrets!