If you’re wondering whether we realize what we just said to you, our work here is done.
Who among us could begin to name everything the South has produced: blues and jazz, Koolickles, the SEC, the funeral procession pull-over, Elvis, Dolly, gas station fried chicken . . . and passive aggressive insults, otherwise known as backhanded compliments.
We didn’t adopt this behavior intentionally or even consciously. It’s just that we have an aversion to aggression in everyday discourse. (In a football stadium, we have no problem with it whatsoever.) Hence the proliferation of “bless your heart,” which isn’t always sarcastic or insincere. Sometimes we’re conveying genuine empathy/sympathy. But we also use it to cushion unpleasant observations: “Maybe cooking just isn’t your special gift, bless your heart.” (Translation: “I don’t think my bird dog would eat your casserole.”)
We polled our Facebook Braintrust and asked them to name some of the thinly veiled negative observations (read: Southern insults) that Mama’n’em have been known to utter. Here’s what the Braintrust said—tell us what we missed:
- Maybe sister just doesn't realize a Medicaid card and a miniskirt don’t belong on the same woman.
- What a cute haircut! It looks SO much better.
- He is who he is, God love him.
- I’ll bet you’ve got such a handsome face underneath that beard.
- Honey, I just hope you don’t catch pneumonia in those shorts. They sure look . . . breezy.
- They're just plain people, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Honey, it's not your fault. You just didn't know any better.
- It's not their fault they weren’t raised right.
- It’s really not her fault she turned out that way.
- That one right there has always been a little different.
- He's not like the rest of the family, is he?
- You march to your own drummer, don’t you sweetheart? Good for you. Good for you.
- You're not married? Nothing wrong with that, honey. You're a career lady.
- I don’t care if it WAS 40 years ago when she won the high school spelling bee—not everybody can spell "hippopotamus," and that's at least something she can hang onto.
- That apple didn’t fall far from the tree, did it, y’all?
- Isn’t it just like you to wear a dress like that!
- Is that what they're wearing now?
- Most people in town think he’s really smart . . .
- I don't care what anybody says. I think she's pretty . . . in her own way.
- Look what she likes.
- Her biscuit’s not done in the middle, but we can overlook that.
- His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, if you know what I mean, but we just love him to death.
- She’s not the sweetest cookie in the batch, but we wouldn't trade her for the world.
- He's a little rough around the edges, but he's got the best personality.
- He means well . . . God love him.
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For Heather Land, life's all about being in the moment and taking whatever path she feels led to follow. As for pretending to be something she's not? She ain't doin' it.