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Southern Belle

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Lyons: Well, Miss Devereaux! And how is the fairest flower of the South?
Diana: Senator Lyons, that's the prettiest thing been said to me since I left Louisiana. I sure been gettin' pow'ful homesick.
One of the Girls: She sure is getting pow'ful Southern.
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A character archetype of an upper class rich girl from the Deep South — or Sweet Home Alabama. She usually wears a Pimped-Out Dress to every dance or party, carries a Parasol of Prettiness in the daytime, and speaks in the most profound Dixie accent. May be subject to fainting or saying, "Well, I do declare!" Typically has a variant of a Hayseed Name akin to Clarabelle, Tallulah, Anne-Marie, etc — uniquely Southern but both feminine and dignified.

A trope that grew out of the South during The American Civil War, there are two versions of the historic Southern Belle: the Bonne Belle ("good beauty" in French), who is loyal to her husband and family even as she sees them off to war, and the Mauvaise Belle ("bad beauty" in French), who is selfish and vain and manipulates those around to her to get what she wants. In terms of behavior, the Belle of either flavor exhibits an outgoing and gregarious personality, in contrast to her stoic foreign counterparts the Yamato Nadeshiko and the English Rose. Southern hospitality is essential, with the Belle always willing to offer a nice pitcher of sweet tea or mint juleps to any guests that might arrive. She is witty and charming, but never oversteps the boundaries of her station, gender, or race. While always polite, she will not hesitate to call someone out for violating the rules of the cotillion.

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Modern Southern Belles are an entirely different creature; the term is used to describe a woman from the rural South in a non-Southern setting note  who's proud of her heritage, and usually has a sweet nature but a feisty temper. Her southern accent and sensibilities may mark her as a Country Mouse to those not close to her, but it gives her a unique charm and she may very well be academically smart and resourceful even if others underestimate her.

The historic Southern Belle is now a Dead Horse Trope, usually limited to parody and historical romance novels. Compare Southern Gentleman (the Spear Counterpart), Princess Classic, Proper Lady (the general European counterpart of Bonne Belle).

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In Real Life, they sometimes go by (according to The Other Wiki) "Ya Ya Sisters", "Sweet Potato Queens", and "GRITS (Girls Raised In The South)". note  Another nickname is "Georgia Peach" for examples specifically from Georgia.

Not a version of Belle from the Deep South.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In one episode of Pokémon, James returns home to his blue-blooded family, who promptly inform him of his engagement to a woman named Jessebelle, who turned out to be one of the reasons that led James to run away from home in the first place. Despite being from Japan's Kanto region, she spoke with a Southern accent in the English dub and was a typical Rich Bitch with a vain, domineering personality, firmly making her a Mauvaise Belle.

    Audio Plays 
  • In The Firesign Theater's album Everything You Know Is Wrong the wire recording of the medicine show features one of these. Celebrating that the South won the Civil War:
    Beulah Belle: Think of those balls you'll have!
    Dad: You're too young to think about that, Beulah Balls. Er, Belle.

    Comic Books 
  • Rogue in the hands of Chris Claremont was originally supposed to be of lower-class and a tomboy, and her youth on the Mississippi made her more similar to Huckleberry Finn than anything. Later in the story she only dreams of being a Scarlett O'Hara-type belle, while in her everyday life she wears pretty unladylike, sometimes masculine clothes and leads the life of a superhero.
  • Bunnie Rabbot from the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. There was a scrapped plotline about her origins that would have revealed her real name as Scarlet O'Hare. While that went nowhere, it's become official canon that while the name has always been spelt "Rabbot", it's actually pronounced "Rah-boh". Nobody calls her that because A: it's only evident in Bunnie's Dixie-ish accent, B: it's spelt Rabbot, and C: her Hollywood Cyborg nature makes "Rabbot" too much of a pun to pass up. Her uncle, also a Hollywood Cyborg, notes his name got the same treatment.
  • Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore's original graphic novel Leaving Megalopolis featured a heroine named Southern Belle who started out as a Bonne Belle until she was corrupted along with the majority of the city's heroes when they fought an Eldritch Abomination. She was part of a superhero team alongside Tom-O-Hawk and his son, Scout, but according to Scout she was actually a Mauvaise Belle who butted in on their partnership and treated Scout like crap. She's slated to be a main character in the sequel series Surviving Megalopolis and is described by Simone as "An incredibly horrible person."

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Gone with the Wind:
    • Scarlett O'Hara is the Trope Codifier of the Mauvaise Belle. She is vain, self-centered, and very spoiled by her wealthy family. She can also be insecure, but is very intelligent, despite her fashionable pretense at ignorance and helplessness around men. Her family owns the O'Hara plantation and her father becomes traumatised by the hardships of the Civil War (especially the pillaging of by Union soldiers). After the war, Scarlett shows qualities very unbecoming to a classic belle, such as readiness to do hard work herself and an almost Yankee-like business sense and enterprise.
    • Scarlett's rival Melanie is her contrast, Proper Lady-like Bonne Belle. She's naive and a perpetual ingenue. She is filled with kindness, loyalty, love and determination. As kindhearted and good as she is, she holds some incredibly racist views of blacks and sexist views of women. Her beliefs are of the "paternal" type, because she believes blacks are too inferior to take care of themselves and it's duty for whites to look after them.
  • Mary Johnson of Fellow Travelers. She's rich, from New Orleans, and well-educated for the time period (McCarthy-era Washington). She's also strong-willed and independent, and like so many of the belles on this page, that gets her into trouble.
  • The short story Witch War by Richard Matheson describes a group of very young Southern Belles (all teen or pre-teen girls) who are sitting on a porch, drinking lemonade, gossiping and other such activities associated with the trope ... until it's revealed they are a secret weapon to be used against enemy soldiers, whom the girls rapidly massacre with horrifying powers of telekinesis. They then return to gossiping and giggling, with a murmur of "aren't we awful!"
  • The title character in Hortense Calisher's short story "The Rehabilitation of Ginevra Leake" is a deconstruction. Ginny Doll, a Southern girl who's moved to New York, has been raised like this by her very proper mother, but is unattractive, unable to get any male attention, and accordingly ends up with insanely high-strung and romantic ideas about men. She eventually ends up joining the Communist Party and finding happiness, without ever ditching the lace towels and fancy hats.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) in The Closer. She's a Southern Belle detective from Georgia who really stands out working in the Los Angeles police department. Her Southern charm and accent are actually a part of her interrogation tactic on suspects - although, as her husband Fritz points out, at heart she's "a bit of an old-fashioned girl".
  • In the Frontier Circus episode "The Courtship", the T & T Circus arrives in New Atlanta, a town run by a pair of aging southern belle sisters, one of whom attempts to inveigle Casey into marriage. Definitely Mauvaise Belles.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Miss Peach, an heiress from Georgia. She's a member of the Extended Universe of the Clue series. While she pretends to be the Bonne Belle, most of Miss Peach's appearances point out that she is a pathological liar, and something of a temptress to rival Miss Scarlet, making her a true Mauvaise Belle.

    Theatre 
  • Tennessee Williams:
    • A Streetcar Named Desire: Blanche is a Southern Belle in the 20th century, a fading relic of a bygone age. She is living in a world that doesn't really exist anymore and her ideals are hopelessly out of date. She has to deal with the loss of their mansion house Belle Reve in the South, having no money or prospects. She lives off Stanley as a guest at her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley but expects to be waited on and treated like queen. She's constantly flirting with every man around, pursues young men and boys even, and keeps fishing for compliments. She looks down on (third-or-second-generation) immigrants and treats Stanley as if he were a primitive. She's insufferable but her fate is absolutely tragic.
    • In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda (the mother) is a former washed-up Southern Belle. Because the present is so depressing (she has a fragile unmarried daughter and a moody son, and she lives in the Depression-era while her husband ran away from them), she chooses to live in the past and tries to think of her glory days, especially dancing and having her gentlemen callers whom she entertained with stories.
  • Diana Devereaux in Of Thee I Sing, who was "the most beautiful blossom in all the Southland" until Wintergreen jilted her.

    Video Games 
  • One such 'beauty' greets the player near the beginning of Uninvited. She is described to look like Scarlett O'Hara. And all she said was "Thank you for coming back to me, my love. You will be mine forever.", but you only see her from the back. Unless you do one certain thing and made preparations beforehand, however, she will reveal her face being devoid of flesh and there's nothing but skull in her head, and she starts ripping you away while screaming maniacally, therefore this is one hell of a nasty subversion of the trope.
  • Kingdom of Loathing gives us "Diving Belles", southern belles who drowned themselves and came back as zombies that roam the depths of the Marinara Trench. Parodies of Scarlett O'Hara, their most dangerous attack is kissing the player really hard after mistaking him for an ex-boyfriend.

    Web Comics 
  • Charlotte Bishop in Lost Cause. Born in southern Missouri, Charlie looks the part. Like any Southern Belle, she wears elaborate outfits, has a white plantation house, speaks with a lilting accent and is wealthy.
  • Faye's mother in Questionable Content is something of one (at least compared to her daughters, the elder of whom chose to make her life in darkest Massachusetts and the younger who came out as a lesbian not long after). Faye herself also lampshades this somewhat by jokingly referencing herself with common southern belle stereotypes, such as getting "the vapors" and referring to Massachusetts as the "Godless north." Conversely, she's quite defensive of other people making fun of southern culture.

    Web Videos 
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Mrs Bennet, the beautiful but embarrassing mom of Lizzy, Jane and Lydia. It's her dream to see all her daughters married to rich men, having mothered two point five children and living in a house with a white picket fence. She lives in California, but her accent is decidedly Southern (as portrayed by Lizzie in her costume theatre). Her habits and life ideals are set in the past because she values stable life with marriage and children, and she can't even imagine that her daughters might want to pursue different things.

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill has a few examples, being a show that takes place in Texas.
    • Luanne and Nancy are modern takes on the belle. They're both blonde, beautiful (if a bit vapid), proud Texans with thick Southern accents, but Luanne is firmly on the Bonne end of the spectrum since she is kind, generous, and hospitable.
    • Nancy, however, is the opposite extreme and firmly on the Mauvaise end. She's one of the most beautiful female characters on the show, has a charming personality, and a great public image. But even once you get past the decade-plus affair, she's the most self-absorbed, vindictive, and two-faced narcissist on the block without Dale around to keep her worst impulses in check.
    Peggy: You may look like a Southern Belle, but instead you're as vicious as a bulldog. Why, I've seen you ruin whole wedding showers with one catty remark.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Deep South", Fry meets a mermaid Southern Belle in the ruins of the legendary lost sunken city of Atlanta. Her father is a rich merman in a white suit. She's has the accent, she's sweet and welcoming and is immediately smitten with Fry. Fry even settles in to enjoy his life with Umbriel deep down under the ocean, but upon encountering the Mermaid Problem, he runs to try to catch his friends.
    Fry: Turns out I loved her, but I wasn't in love with her.
    Amy: (to Leela) Trouble in the bedroom...
  • Episode "Til Death Do Us Part" of The Real Ghostbusters spoofed this with a ghost girl named Dixie falling in-love with Egon and trying to marry him in a Shotgun Wedding. The girl has the Southern Belle accent, attire and behavior to match.

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