With the memories
of the Old South fading, so are the ideas and values of true southern belles and southern ladies. The art and culture of being
a true southern belle is dying out, just as the Old South did. Many southern girls and women these modern days, lack the proper
upbringing and are not taught the old-fashioned ideas of being a true southern belle or true southern lady.
To be taught
the ideas and traditions, you certainly must have a mother and or/ grandmother who is a true southern lady. The southern ladies
raised in the 1950’s and early 1960’s are the last of the women raised in the true old-fashioned southern values.
Coming from a respectable family that has financial means is a must to be considered a southern belle- not a southern
lady. Having some financial means does help, but if you do not have the proper upbringing, no amount of money can help you
attain southern lady status. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Some true southern ladies never came from social prominence
and their families had very little money. These women were taught as children grace, manners, and values. Some women from
this group of southern ladies are some of the most gracious, refined, and sweetest women I have ever met.
It can be
said that from a social point of view that the idea "southern belles" is an elitist title invented by wealthy southern plantation
owners. The title itself has the connotations of arrogance and self-importance. There is arrogance and self-importance to
a degree in all southern belles and southern ladies, myself included. Some southern belles/ladies have very little arrogance
or self-importance about them. Then, there are some that are self-absorbed with these qualities; I find in my experience that
these women feel a need to over-compensate for qualities they lack.
I feel the greatest contributors in the cultural
and social change of the proper upbringing of southern women are:
Decline is morals – With the acceptance of unwed motherhood,
this is just one of many behaviors that has had a devastating effect on many families. Of course it is the parent’s
duty to teach morals, but many parents lack in that duty. The principles of honesty, integrity, and virtue are not being taught
to many of the younger girls. The media parading sexual freedom also has had a harming effect on all of society.
"Modern" women and "Modern" society – Some of the ideas of the modern woman and modern society have changed the
household of what a true "Southern family" should be. Nowadays, these old-fashioned ideas may seem insulting to some modern
thinking women. It is the man’s duty to support his family the best he can. If at all possible, the mother needs to
be home to raise the small children. The proper southern household should be set to where the wife and the female children
take care of the household duties (laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc). The yard work and house repairs are the husbands and
the male children’s duty. If the woman works full-time (some have no choice), she comes home to cook and clean. If financially
able, you hire a maid to help. These rules define roles, which makes a more organized family and household. The women should
know how to cook meals from scratch, not quick box meals. I am the only person under the age of 55 in my family that can make
homemade bread/desserts and can vegetables and fruit. The art of cooking southern food is not being taught much to the younger
generations these days.
I know that many disagree with my ideas and opinions. Some of you may be disappointed of my
not promoting the "Southern Belle" myth you may have expected to read. Much to my sadness, the breed of the true southern
belle/southern lady are dying out.
In conclusion, I will end with a favorite quote:
never resist a losing cause.
Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949),
U.S. novelist. Rhett Butler, in Gone with the Wind, vol. 2, pt. 4, ch. 34 (1936)