But Do You *Really* Love the South?

Welcome to the South.

Whether you’re from around here or not, you’ve likely Instagrammed the multicolor mosaic of autumn leaves, shouted the lyrics to “Wagon Wheel” at the top of your lungs, and fallen victim to fried chicken and waffles.

Living in the South sure has its benefits, and we love ‘em! We’re proud of where we come from and love sharing our signature hospitality and culture with you out-of-towners. That being said, we aren’t too fond of some of the negative stereotyping that comes with it.

Inspired by an article from the online magazine, Everyday Feminism, which details the harmful, ignorant things urban feminists say to rural folks and why they’re problematic, this slew of thoughts is an extension as it pertains to being from a smaller town in the Southeastern United States.

Generally speaking, the media tends to present us in a binary representation: the Southern belles, Luke Bryan-esque gentlemen, and cowboy-boot wearers of the world, or the down-home, uneducated, Confederate-flag-waving country bumpkins.

As you can probably figure out, that’s a little too simplistic.

Thus, it’s discomforting when upon meeting someone new, they act perplexed about things like a lack of an accent or, worse, our overall intelligence level, despite an accent.

“Among many others, ’Buckles, your accent doesn’t lend credit to your level of intelligence,’ is one of my personal favorite phrases I’ve encountered since entering [the Navy],” says Petty Officer Kristina Buckles, a 21-year-old from Johnson City, Tennessee.

Johnson City is a small town in the easternmost tip of Tennessee, and it has been home to Buckles for practically her entire life. In addition to giving new acquaintances a 10-minute spiel about the geography of her home state, such as the location of her hometown with respect to Nashville or Memphis, Buckles says that she’s also had to offer an explanation about her signature twang. She adds that people have even gone so far as to attribute it to a lack of a proper upbringing.

“One upper-level officer [in the Central Intelligence field of the Navy] said to me, ’Well, my parents loved me enough to beat the accent out of me, so you would do well to lose yours before applying for a job in a private sector of our field,’” she says.

Buckles prides herself on keeping up with the news and regularly educating herself on political, social, and economic issues while working towards a Masters in Computer Science and Cyber Security. She has, however, become irritated at the blatant discrimination she has received that has primarily stemmed from her Southern accent.

Wake Forest University senior, Ivory Shelton, who also hails from East Tennessee, agrees, saying that she’s even been asked to repeat words to others, to a point that it has even prevented effective conversations.

“One person I was speaking with interrupted me, asking me to say, ‘right’ again, with a grin on their face, and the original topic was completely forgotten,” she says.

Enter the act of linguistic profiling. According to Dr. John Bauch, author of Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas, “Linguistic profiling can have devastating consequences for those U.S. residents who are perceived to speak with an undesirable accent or dialect.”

Southern accents are perceived as “cute” or “charming,” not “intelligent” and “commanding of respect.” Just as it’s difficult to discern from where such negative stereotypes—such as that people of color, particularly blacks, are innately violent, dangerous, or angry—stemmed, it’s also difficult for us, as proud Southerners, to understand why people have it in their minds that having an accent deems us as slow, uneducated, incompetent individuals.

This being said, both the problem of linguistic profiling and the ignorance it breeds aren’t just pertinent to the Southern United States. This simple concept can also be applied to any aspect of language across a multitude of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Dr. Agnés Krozser-Hamati, Chief of Oncology at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, TN, has said repeatedly that had she spoken with a thick Hungarian accent, her competency as a doctor would be vilified.

“When I moved to Cleveland, Ohio, at eleven, I did everything in my power to be as American-sounding as possible,” she remembers. “I got tunnel vision—I practiced speaking English every day after school with my teachers. I was determined to put an end to the mindless bullying that surrounded my being foreign.”

Krozser-Hamati has called Johnson City home for nearly thirty years, and is proud to live there. One note she, Buckles, and Shelton have made is this: “You can’t pick and choose which parts of a culture you idolize while dismissing the rest.”

Cultural stereotypes are multifaceted, and each facet can be dreadfully harmful. They pose a power struggle between the powerful and weak; the able and disabled; the civilized and savage.

Stereotyping is the Regina George of society: even though it’s the popular, conventional, and—dare I say—ingrained thing to do, it deepens the divide between equality and progress.

For Shelton, such cultural stereotyping has “created opportunity for linguistic and social elitism to put chinks in an otherwise solid armor.” It is disheartening. However, grinning, she retorts that witnessing such moments of ignorance have helped her to avoid stereotyping others, and gain perspective on a broader scale.

“I have personally seen these experiences are frustrating for me as an Appalachian woman, but, [in looking at the broader problems of profiling and stereotyping as a whole], I see a jumping point off of which to check privilege and leave elitism at the door.

In the South, the sweet tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter. What would really be neater, however, is fostering respect towards our culture by challenging such hurtful stereotypes. We, too, are multi-dimensional and dynamic idealists, and we’d be more than happy to discuss our ideas with y’all, anytime.

santa’s good(skin) list

From sipping hot cocoa and sledding (if Tennessee ever decides have a proper winter) to movie marathons and last-minute gift shopping, nothing beats the winter holiday season.

While the holidays are great, however, winter can really take a toll on your skin. You wear it every day, and with all of those upcoming parties, you’re bound to have at least one camera flashing away at you, so here are some tips to save your skin from the wicked winter winds, and hopefully, from an undesirable spot on Santa’s naughty list.

1. Bottoms up!

Water, that is. Especially when it’s so cold outside, water is even more important to having clear, glowing, and hydrated skin. Added bonus? It’ll tackle any extra cravings for another holiday cookie, so your stomach will thank you, too (Read: you won’t be one of those crazed chicas sweating the Santa gut away on the elliptical when swimsuit season rolls around).

2. Oil to the world!

The savior, Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil, reigns. I know, I know…it seems so counterintuitive to coat your face with oil, but trust me (or Allure) on this one: it plumps your skin and eradicates the redness and irritation that comes from, well, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Your skin always deserves the gold standard, and Argan oil is the “liquid gold of Morocco,” but if you’re still a little sketched out by putting pure oil on your face, Maran’s Argan Infinity Cream does the trick just as nicely!

3. Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow.

Beat the blotch with antioxidant-rich foods like raspberries, pomegranates, and blackberries, which are another secret to great skin. Help yourself to another serving of potatoes au gratin, but be sure you fruit up or you might be as red as Santa.

4. The humidi(fire) is so delightful.

Coming from someone who’s been fighting off a cold for the past week, a humidifier not only helps you breathe easy but also is smart investment for your skin. Central heating systems blast warm, dry air throughout, and humidifiers help prevent your skin from drying out.

5. I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus…

and hopefully mommy wasn’t smooching Santa with dry lips! Try Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment, which has beautiful shades ranging from clear to Ruby– a sheer, cranberry red. Its smooth, irresistibly creamy texture will zap the chap and with an SPF 15, it also protects your pout from the sun, which can be even harsher in the winter.

6. Shower me with presents!

…but try to avoid boiling hot showers. Though they may feel ah-mazing on a blisteringly cold day, they can strip your skin of the moisture it needs. Keep it warm and save the heat for the Hot Toddy’s you can sip to your heart’s content.

45 thoughts i had during my hike to pinnacle mountain fire tower and back

My roommate came to visit me this weekend from Charlotte as an early birthday present. There’s not a whole lot to do in Johnson City, Tennessee, especially when your neighborhood pool is still not open until Memorial Day weekend, so what better to do than to go on a beautiful hike to Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower?! I’ve gone before, so I figured it’d be a walk in the park (literally). It was stunning, yes, the views, the weather, all of it. After coasting down I-26 for about 30 minutes, getting lost twice, and finally finding the base of the mountain, we commenced the hike with water bottles in hand. Here are some of the thoughts that progressed through our minds, as inspired by many a BuzzFeed article.

1. Okay, lets do this. I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready!

2. I’m so happy– there are no bugs and the weather is literally perfect.

3. So, there are no mile markers… whatever it’s all good. Just keep following the path.

4. OOH, A WATERFALL! Narnia! Woo!

5. Are we there yet? I see light! We’ve gotta be almost there, it said roughly 5 miles to the top…

6. DAMN IT. Not there yet.

7. I think we’re almost there?

8. PLOT TWIST! Nope.

9. Oh, thankfully I brought water with me. My legs are starting to hurt already.

10. Wow, we are in the middle of nowhere.

11. A-ha! A clearing!! Found it, found it, found it. We’ve still not reached the tower though…surely just under a mile to go.

12. Which way do we go? Follow the sign! This one says to the tower…

13. Are we there yet? No? Damn it.

14. I can see it! Can I see it? I think? Shit.

15. A pretty clearing! Picture time! *yay*

16. Hmm, here’s an idea, every time I see an uphill burst, I’ll start running and then when it flattens out, I’ll walk. Glutes, you can go to hell.

17. Hello, fellow hikers, how much longer? About 7 minutes? THANK GOD.

18. Where are we, Death Valley? Toto…I have a feeling we aren’t in Johnson City anymore.

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19. Well, shout out to that dude who was on the mountain bike. This path is crazy. I would’ve fallen off a long time ago.

20. Commencing philosophical thoughts and singing of “Let’s Get Down to Business.”

21. Finally! I SEE THE TOWER!

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22. Ah, stairs. Glorious stairs. We’ve made it.

23. And crap I don’t have much water left.

24. Let’s take selfies and do cool yoga poses and take in the scenery and rap “Started from the Bottom Now We Here” until we’re blue in the face.

25. Oookay, and time to come down.

26. Oh my god, were these stairs that steep?

27. Now back down. Cue “Map My Run” to tell us our pace and mileage to see how much longer because there is no way in hell that that was only 4.8 miles uphill. That had to be an extra 2.5 miles to the tower. Had to.

28. Let’s see, let’s go down the other path—I think I remember going down this last time—I think it was shorter, actually.

29. OOH! LEMONADE FROM CHICK-FIL-A. THAT’LL MOTIVATE ME.

30. A steep white cement road? How did that even dry up here? Whatever…Follow the white cement road, follow the white cement road, follow the follow the follow the follow the follow the white cement road…

31. HOW DID THAT MOUNTAIN BIKER GO DOWN THIS HILL?!

32. Ah, the clearing again. Hello, old friend.

33. I think I’ll just continue down the path I came up—I don’t trust that driving path. Plus, we made it this far… why slack off now?

34. Ooh, downhill. I feel like Forrest Gump. RUN FORREST RUN.

35. OUCH! I rolled my ankle. Walk it off, walk it off.

36. Aaaaand, we’re at 2.73 miles.

37. Man, my ass is gonna kill me in the morning.

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38. Is that just me or do my feet really hurt?

39. At least the weather’s nice.

40. Every time there is a downhill, I’m running. Okay? Okay.

41. Aaaand, there goes my other ankle. JESUS. How the hell did that mountain biker go down this hill?

42. Is that I-26?! INTERSTATE, HO!

43. Oh, my glutes. Oh, my quads. Oh… shit. Ouch.

44. LEMONADE TIME. WOOOOH.

45. Aaaand, it’s a Sunday. Chick-fil-A’s closed.