Golden Thread The Plantation Mistress: The Misrepresentation and Myth of the "Southern Belle"

amweiner

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That might be a stretch...just maybe kinda sorta. :smile:
Ok, let me elaborate a bit. I think the times certainly were enough to try the sanity of anyone, even the most patient, wise people.

However, we can't overlook the possibility that some relied on entirely healthy coping mechanisms or that some people were just tremendously resilient. Not all traumatic events destroy everyone in their path - we need to learn more from people in the past and present about how to boost protective factors against things the mind isn't designed to experience.
 

Dedej

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That might be a stretch...just maybe kinda sorta. :smile:

It most likely is.. :smile:

But, I know I wouldn't be mentally healthy and I would be sadly be someone who would have become addicted to something.

Luckily, I own my own business - because I take mental health days a few times a week. I am no good when stressed or around bad energy. So, I know I wouldn't have lasted long in those times. I am nothing like my ancestors.
 

Nathanb1

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It most likely is.. :smile:

But, I know I wouldn't be mentally healthy and I would be sadly be someone who would have become addicted to something.

Luckily, I own my own business - because I take mental health days a few times a week. I am no good when stressed or around bad energy. So, I know I wouldn't have lasted long in those times. I am nothing like my ancestors.
Luckily none of us have to be. Heck, I'm stressed about going to the river in a couple of weeks... will there be snakes? Scorpions? Enough food? Enough water in the river? Sure the plumbing works? Snakes?
 
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And how were these ideals spread? Was it mainly via print, books or social gatherings? I guess I'm asking - how did they all get on the same page of trying to emulate or portray some of those ideals?

I look forward to hearing more on this from @amweiner, but as a self-professed lover of Victorian era literature, I have found that for the most part it portrays a completely ideal life. Of course that makes sense to some degree because it was a fairly idealistic age. Victorian poets and novelists commonly intertwined the notion of truth, justice and love in their writings. While they didn’t shy away from developing characters that had difficult lives, they still managed to idealize them by almost always showing that hard work, perseverance, love and luck ultimately won out in the end. They fused romance and realism into a style of writing that all too often glorified the past. So yes, I think these ideals were spread in large part through print. This is a fascinating topic @Dedej!
 

amweiner

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The first time I ever had a serious pain killer, I was absolutely amazed at how good I felt. Not just from the pain relief ~ I didn't care about anything anymore. I was the definition of "comfortable".

I could see people turning to opiates back then. Heck, there are days where I think, "Why am I doing this sober?" I can't imagine what a war torn population had to wrestle with.
Not to drift too far afield, but years ago my parents were being asphyxiated by a leaky gas generator. My mom knew something was wrong when my dad broke his ankle from falling and she didn't care.

I'm guessing that not caring got extended to family and those who were enslaved as well.
 

Dedej

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Not all traumatic events destroy everyone in their path - we need to learn more from people in the past and present about how to boost protective factors against things the mind isn't designed to experience.

Very true. I just wonder how one did that back then? So many factors that pushed against the healthy life and mind.

I am very into lots of silence, meditation, prayer and ....gyrotonics/hot yoga :happy:.
 

Dedej

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I look forward to hearing more on this from @amweiner, but as a self-professed lover of Victorian era literature, I have found that for the most part it portrays a completely ideal life. Of course that makes sense to some degree because it was a fairly idealistic age. Victorian poets and novelists commonly intertwined the notion of truth, justice and love in their writings. While they didn’t shy away from developing characters that had difficult lives, they still managed to idealize them by almost always showing that hard work, perseverance, love and luck ultimately won out in the end. They fused romance and realism into a style of writing that all too often glorified the past. So yes, I think these ideals were spread in large part through print. This is a fascinating topic @Dedej!

So interesting! Do you think those who did not fit the pushed ideal of the "Southern Belle" - in a physically, financially or familial way - caused discord amongst women of the plantation. Or even depression?

Meaning, she is on a small farm with 2-3 slaves and are just kinda making it - but read about other women or even know of other women or family members out/in state -- that do fit those ideals. The women competing thing.

Speaking of ideals and image - have you heard of any cases/accounts of women with eating disorders during that time? That would be interesting to find out.
 

Nathanb1

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My grandmother was born after the family got to Texas. She was a God-fearing Baptist who taught Sunday School, played the piano at church, wore white gloves, always had Juicy Fruit gum in her purse, wore hats and gloves when she went to visit, sewed, gardened, baked... you name it. One of her favorite sayings was, "You can be poor, but you don't have to be trash." I'm guessing that was passed down from her mother, who got to travel in the family wagon from Carthage, Mississippi to Texas.
 

Nathanb1

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So interesting! Do you think those who did not fit the pushed ideal of the "Southern Belle" - in a physically, financially or familial way - caused discord amongst women of the plantation. Or even depression?

Meaning, she is on a small farm with 2-3 slaves and are just kinda making it - but read about other women or even know of other women or family members out/in state -- that do fit those ideals. The women competing thing.

Speaking of ideals and image - have you heard of any cases/accounts of women with eating disorders during that time? That would be interesting to find out.

Dirt eating, especially during pregnancy... there's a word for it, despite what Julia Sugarbaker said to that Yankee Reporter. My daughter did crave the smell of damp earth while she was pregnant. Her mother in law gave her a clay water jar, and she kept it full of water so she could sniff it.

I forgot! Another of those Mississippi ladies related to me died of pellagra. I was astounded when I found that, having learned about all those nutritional deficiencies in college...eech. Not a common problem any more, thank God.
 
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LoriAnn

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Didn't Varina Davis kind of push the boundaries of what was allowed from women of the time? It's been a while since I read up on her, but I seem to remember that she enjoyed discussing politics and current events with the men. She could be quite witty as well, and I don't think that sat well with many of her female contemporaries.
 
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The women competing thing.

You know it!!! Sometimes we women can be our own worst enemy. I became a principal in 1993 when it was still rare for the system where I served to have females in this role. As strange as it may sound, I found that many of my female teachers missed having a male principal. They knew their feminine wiles wouldn't have any effect on me because I knew a thing or two about that. :wink:

Speaking of ideals and image - have you heard of any cases/accounts of women with eating disorders during that time? That would be interesting to find out.

More on this will follow. You know I share your interest in studying women of this era so I have some sources I can revisit on this topic.
 

amweiner

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Didn't Varina Davis kind of push the boundaries of what was allowed from women of the time? It's been a while since I read up on her, but I seem to remember that she enjoyed discussing politics and current events with the men. She could be quite witty as well, and I don't think that sat well with many of her female contemporaries.
Or the men, I'm guessing! They probably muttered sour nothings into their chewing tobacco and brandy.
 
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