As a woman from the south, born in the ’50s, I was raised to be small, quiet, polite and inauthentic, a perfect southern belle. The instructions were to look and act pretty, speak when spoken to and keep a low profile, ESPECIALLY around men. I was groomed to be a perfect southern housewife, much like “the good wife” described in the May 1955 Good Housekeeping article. Here were just a few of the steps from that guide:
Have a delicious meal ready and on time for your husband. Prepare the children, eliminate the noise, light a fire and put out his slippers. Prepare yourself. Freshen up. Put a ribbon in your hair. Let him know you are thinking of him and concerned for his needs. This will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
Be happy to see him. His day may have been boring. Make him comfortable, have a cool drink ready for him, let him lie down if he needs to. Be sincere in your desire to please him and provide a place of peace and order where he can be renewed. This is your duty.
Do not ask questions. Do not complain. Listen to him. His topics of conversation are more important than yours. His is the master of the house. A good wife always knows her place...
Put a RIBBON in MY hair? Cater to HIS COMFORT? Never question HIS JUDGEMENT? Be sincere in my desire to PLEASE HIM?
Whew! Where is today’s amazing Southern woman in this description? No wonder Southern women of my era question who they are, what they are here to do and whether they need permission to follow their own inner guidance. No wonder southern women stay small avoid being bold or playing big in the world. And, this guide applies to all women, not just Southern women, right?!
As a coach, I work with remarkable, powerful and amazing women who know they are more than the roles they’ve played. They simply feel a little stuck and unsure of what to do next. These women have learned to be chameleons, becoming what they need to be, shifting roles from moment-to-moment; charming and graceful, weak and subservient or strong and powerful. They’re equipped to do it all.
So, what’s in the way? How is it that these Southern women, and many women for that matter, with these extraordinary skills frequently finds themselves wondering what’s next? Why do they question who they are and the value of their contribution to others? Why do these powerful women stay (or feel) so small?
Hmmm... with years of rules and roles and a life time of practice, perhaps these women don’t know they have a choice. Here are my Top 8 Reasons Southern Women Stay Small. Don’t let these reasons stunt your growth!
(You can download this article here.)
A Southern Woman...
1. Keeps her gifts a secret.
She’s waiting for others to do what she must do for herself - celebrate her freedom and toot her own horn.
2. Plays by the rules she was given.
She’s been handed her list of rules and roles all her life. Stay in your place, look pretty, be gracious, don’t argue, don’t show up your husband...
3. Gives up her dreams and settles for what she has.
She has adopted the false truth that the life of her dreams is out of her reach. She’s squashed her spirit and inner passion deep down inside.
4. Boxes herself in with limits.
She’s afraid to step outside the boundaries of what is "normal" for a Southern woman. What will people think?
5. Is out of alignment with her power.
She feels guilt and shame when she lets her mind drift to questions about who she is and what she wants.
6. Chooses based on fear and conditioning.
Faced with a choice, she feels anxious, worried, confused, angry and frustrated. She’s not used to choosing for herself.
7. Is out of touch with her women’s intuition.
As a Southern woman, she was taught to hide her power, stay small, stuff her emotions and ignore her soul – her inner guide and compass. How can she know how she feels when she was trained that her body’s own wisdom can't be trusted?
8. Isolates herself from her sources of support.
She feels guilty and not worthy of asking for help. She feels ashamed and weak for needing it. The truth is that every woman needs and deserves a coach, guide, mentor or teacher, a confidante to tell her the truth, someone to believe in her until she can believe in herself.
Sound familiar? Do any of these descriptions ring true for you? If so, it’s time to do some “real housekeeping.” Throw out the rules and roles that keep you small and find a NEW GUIDE (a-hem).
Today’s women, Southern or otherwise, is here to be bold, play big and make a difference in the world. She can learn to rise up, seize her inner power, and become a bold voice for self-expression. Empowerment is hers for the taking.
So... are you ready to discover your freedom, make your mark on the world, live your outrageous life... PLAYING BIG - full out and on your terms?
I’m waitin’ on ya...
About the author: Tuck Self, The Rebel Belle, is a Southern voice for bold self-expression. As a coach, writer and speaker she inspires women to wake up, crank it up, and squeeze the juice from life with passion, purpose, and a lot of play! Let The Rebel Belle guide you to freedom and bold self-expressions. Buy The Rebel Belle Guide to Bold Self-Expression: 7 Steps to Discovering Freedom – Full Out and On Your Terms! today.
Download a PDF of this article, “The Top 8 Reasons Southern Women Stay Small”