In my latest book, Liberating Hearts my main character is Harriet DeVaughn Davies, a charming Southern Belle who had to learn to stand on her feet after the death of both parents and a husband in jail. It is the follow-up book of Love at War, with a spiritual message.
I am already 34 000 into the book and came to a stop when another character threw a curveball at me. Now I need some legal counsel… 😊
I had to do some research about these women and found actually many similarities with women here in South Africa. As I read, I realized my mum would have been the perfect Southern Belle and many of these values and mannerisms were instilled in me. Which I try to do… really…But I am far from being a Southern Belle. I am just to rough around the edges as my mum used to say. 😊
This is what I have learned from the many references I read:
41 Rules of A Southern Bell
You’ll either wish you were a Belle or wish you could marry one.
- Pearls go with anything — ANYTHING I must say I agree with this, who doesn’t love a beautiful set of pearls…”😊
- We can make sweet tea with our eyes closed, and our hands tied behind our backs. South African Belle’s likes to make ginger beer. We don’t understand the fascination with sweet tea.
- NEVER leave the house without being put together. I agree.
- Your company is more important than your iPhone. So, agree with this. Why bother to visit then?
- When in doubt, monogram it. This is not a big thing in South Africa yet, but I like the idea.
- Never start a meal without saying grace. Always be grateful. A South African tradition.
- Smiling at strangers is a force of habit. Mmm, not always… 😊
- Curls, curls, and more curls. I hate curlers, the only way I can get curls in this straight hair. So, a big no to me but mum would have agreed.
- Every day is an excuse to dress up. Of course, even in bed, you must look your best.
- Speak slowly and in an educated manner. Here I will fall from the bus. My words are to slow for my thought process.
- Respect and acknowledge the fact the Scarlett O’Hara was a bad b****. Oh, yes…bad ass lady.
- Always Rsvp. It is the right thing to do.
- You can never go wrong with a firm handshake…And a smile. Absolutely, but in SA handshakes are reserved for men, which I don’t understand. I really do not want hugs from every person I meet. But a smile that I can do. I am normally the first to go for the handshake. It works for me.
- Saturdays in the fall are reserved for college football. Since Rugby is our main sport I will watch only when a big match is on. And I don’t wear the jerseys.
- Likewise, you plan your entire spring calendar around your favourite baseball team. No… not me as well.
- It’s okay to be fashionably late. There is seldom a good excuse except for emergencies but be on time.
- Mama raised us not to curse. Oh, mum failed with this one on me. I try to behave when among decent people but riled up… oh my…
- Use your inside voice. Out loud?
- Sit up straight. Absolutely
- And cross your legs. A lady reveals nothing. Agree. My undergarments are my business.
- Know when it’s appropriate to “Bite your tongue,” and when to give your opinion. Agree. My opinion is not needed.
- Attendance for Sunday service is mandatory and goes without question. Long story short, I don’t attend church.
- There’s always an excuse to entertain. A braai solves all problems.
- Expect a gentleman to hold your door open for you and pull your chair out for you. Definitely. A man with manners, oh my…
- Trust and respect your elders. Without question.
- Getting out of a vehicle gracefully is a hidden talent. The first thing any woman should learn and practise.
- Know your intelligence, but don’t flaunt it. No question about it. I have learned this the hard way.
- ‘Steel Magnolias’ is your southern belle “goals.” Loved this movie, I love the way they talk, how they address each other. Support each other.
- Sip on your lemonade and mind your own business. Truth.
- Slow cooking all day long. I don’t like cooking. Baking, but not cooking.
- Take pride in your effortless ability to properly set a table. My mum was an expert in this. Me, put it inside a glass if there is not room, otherwise help yourself. I absolutely love beautiful serviette with any meal.
- Pastels are always in fashion. True that. But I like earthy tones more.
- And so is Lilly Pulitzer. We have Emsie Schoeman and Anne Dreyer.
- Never, ever leave the house without your lipstick. High Five for this one.
- Send, ‘Thank You’ notes. Important but few do it.
- And make sure you only use your very best stationary. I want to invest in a good fountainpen and stationery with my own monogram. Absolutely love this idea.
- Take compliments courteously. A good complement boosts my spirit, and I do this often.
- If you can be ready to leave the house in 30 minutes, you need not be going. Yes!!
- Fingers and toes should always be painted and well-groomed. Agreed
- Rudeness and ignorance go hand in hand, never be one. No question about it.
- Have class, always. Absolutely.
So, what do you think, will I pass as one?
And, if you are one, let me hear your thoughts. I might have missed something.