Southern belle  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A southern belle (derived from the French belle, 'beautiful') is an archetype for a young woman of the American Old South's antebellum upper class. During the period, Kentuckian Sallie Ward of Louisville was the most noted belle in the South, and her portrait, which hangs in the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is often called "The Southern Belle." A Southern Belle epitomized southern hospitality, cultivation of beauty and a flirtatious yet chaste demeanor. The stereotype continues to have a powerful aspirational draw for many people, and books like We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, The Southern Belle Primer, and The Southern Belle Handbook are plentiful. Other current terms in popular culture related to "southern belles" include "Ya Ya Sisters," "GRITS (Girls Raised In The South)," "Sweet Potato Queens," and "Bulldozers disguised as powder-puffs."

To detractors, the southern belle stereotype is a symbol of repressed, "corseted" young women nostalgic for a bygone era.

Use in literature

Gone with the Wind is probably the most famous treatment of the southern belle. The character of Blanche DuBois in the play and film A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is a woman who tries desperately to convince others that she is a belle despite contradicting evidence. The character Amanda in Williams' The Glass Menagerie considers herself to be a southern belle, yet clearly has long since passed her years of youth. The movie Steel Magnolias showcases a variety of southern belles from differing social classes. Daisy in The Great Gatsby also epitomises the characteristics of being a southern belle, having been raised in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rogue of Marvel Comics' X-Men is probably the most well-known "southern belle" in comic books.

Bunnie Rabbot from the comic book series Sonic the Hedgehog is considered a southern belle due to her southern accent and in one issue she even tells a bad guy that the Freedom Fighters caught that he's real lucky that she is one.

Although a southern belle can be of any background, traditional symbols in film have often been juxtaposed to the enslaved woman or hired maid servant.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Southern belle" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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