The Southern belle (derived from the French word belle, 'beautiful') is a proper young woman of the American South's upper socioeconomic class.
The image of a Southern belle is often characterized by fashion elements such as a hoop skirt, a corset, pantalettes, a wide-brimmed straw hat, and gloves. As signs of tanning were considered working-class and unfashionable during this era, parasols and fans are also often represented.
Southern belles were expected to marry respectable young men, and become ladies of society dedicated to the family and community. The Southern belle archetype is characterized by Southern hospitality, a cultivation of beauty, and a flirtatious yet chaste demeanor.
In popular culture
- During the early 20th century, the release of the novel Gone with the Wind and its film adaptation popularized the image of the Southern belle, particularly in the characters Scarlett O'Hara and Melanie Wilkes.
- Southern belles have also been featured in The Birth of a Nation, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Jezebel, The Little Foxes, The Princess and the Frog, Fried Green Tomatoes, Wacky Races, Steel Magnolias, and Sweet Home Alabama.
- Dick Pope, Sr., promoter of Florida tourism, played an important role in popularizing the archetypal image. Hostesses at his famed Cypress Gardens were portrayed as Southern belles in promotional materials for the theme park.
- Daisy Duke of Dukes of Hazzard is a Southern belle in the show.
- Blanche Devereaux is a Southern belle employed at an art museum in the series The Golden Girls.
- Peggy Hill is the self-proclaimed Southern belle in the Texas-based animated series King of the Hill.
- The X-Men member Rogue (aka Anna Marie) is the team's self-described Southern belle and comes from the fictitious Caldecott County, Mississippi.
- In Mighty Magiswords, Penny Plasm is an Southern Belle.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Bunnie Rabbot, a female cyborg rabbit is a Southern belle.
- Cindy Bear is a Southern belle grizzly bear from the Hanna-Barbera animated series The Yogi Bear Show.
- Myrtle Urkel, Steve Urkel's rich Southern belle cousin from Family Matters.
- Scarlett O'Hara, the most famous fictional Southern belle.
- Penelope Pitstop, the Southern belle racer from Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
- "History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research | Episodes". Historyengine.richmond.edu. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- "Anatomy of a Southern Belle | Deep South Magazine – Southern Food, Travel & Lit". Deepsouthmag.com. June 2, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- Clark, Thomas D. (2015). The Kentucky. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 238–255.
- APPublished: January 30, 1988 (January 30, 1988). "Richard Downing Pope, 87, Dies; Promoter of Florida and Tourism - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- The Lakeland Ledger, January 29, 1988. Vol. 82 No.99 Pg11A
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