Recently, I caused quite a stir among friends on Facebook when I suggested that today people think of the southern belle as a young woman who has blonde hair–in addition to a having a southern drawl and other character traits people associate with someone being a “southern belle.” This discussion was originally prompted by a post I made about an ad that appeared in a local issue of Creative Loafing for the show “The Bachelor.” The ad was to announce the show’s casting call, which read “Calling All Southern Belles.”
What did they mean by that exactly? Should she have a southern drawl? Was she blonde? What sort of stereotype were the producers looking for? Several of us weighed in and there was considerable disagreement among my fellow southerners, especially when I suggested that the current point of view held in pop culture was that a southern belle should be blonde. This certainly didn’t apply to the most popular belle of all time. I mean, Scarlett O’Hara had black hair for crying out loud!
So, I decided to go to the casting call and interview people for their opinions as to the questions “What is a southern belle?” “How would you describe her?” There was general agreement on her traits–many said she was polite, well-mannered, etc. But there was more than one person who responded that a southern belle had blonde hair and blue eyes.
One of the young women I interviewed was actually asked to come in based on a video she submitted to the show. She had the requisite southern drawl and guess what else? Blonde hair and blue eyes.
Perhaps the idea that southern belles have blonde hair and blue eyes is generational or maybe even regional. Most people associate the intangible qualities that make a woman a southern belle–not her physical traits. Yet in popular culture you get a bit of both.
Clearly, the makers of Butterfinger Snakerz think a southern belle has blonde hair, blue eyes, has a southern drawl (no matter how bad) and is even a little stingy.