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Trailer Park pretty
April 26, 2023
Old southern women say about the meanest things known to man and completely look away afterwards without batting an eye, all while giving just about the most frightening, yet comforting, smile. They can’t help it; it’s just in their nature to be a little catty, and they don’t realize it because the women that they grew up with spoke the same way. They speak with such a melody, that you wouldn’t even know they called you fat and told you that your shoes were ugly until you’re laying in bed later that night, and you sit up and curse to yourself because you didn’t catch that sly read.
If you ever hear a southern person say “Well idinit precious!” when meeting a small child or baby, just know that “precious” is not a compliment, and it is a bit more of a southern mother way of saying the baby is ugly. Everyone knows the infamous “Oh bless your heart,” which is just someone telling you that you are “pitiful,” which is another way someone might say that you are a hot mess in a dress.
Most of the time, I can turn a blind eye to Southern play-nice verbiage, read it like a book and even throw in a good read here and there with it flying straight over the other person’s head. I always feel really accomplished when I am set in the hostile presence of a southern person and the passive aggressive showdown commences. I will never start it, but I will almost always finish it.
With my roots being all Midwestern women who have more identification with the South, I can serve up that Midwestern southern Illinois heat, always allowing a bit of my twang show proudly when I am in need of protecting myself. If you’re overly nosey, you better believe that I am going to be just as nosey back. For example, if you ask something a little too personal, I might ask about your cousin who’s in jail for shoplifting at Walmart, all while keeping a sugary sweet composure.
Most of these tidbits are silly and don’t have much meaning behind them other than the obvious situation you would use them in. I now, as an adult, have my own acquired vernacular made up of phrases I have heard over the years and even some that I have coined as my own. A good portion of these nicknames and adlibs you learn are from folks who are older, and most of them have been around for generations.
Most of these silly phrases have no real good meaning. They are almost always funny or work perfect in the situation, but there are definitely some that should not be used, and there is one that really grinds my gears.
“Well, she’s trailer park pretty,” I heard someone say recently, and it piqued my interest. I had heard this term before in my childhood from numerous folks, but, in my adulthood, I had never encountered this word in the wild. Of course, I have heard that Miranda Lambert song called “Geraldine,” where she says the iconic southern sounding line, “You’re trailer park pretty, but you’re never gonna be Jolene.”
This time, when hearing this phrase, the words rang out like someone had just smacked a cast iron skillet upside my head. I slightly bit my cheek in discomfort and felt a bit embarrassed at the person who had just used this ignorant turn of phrase but also because I had said it so many times before without really putting any thought into the words.
Blinking slowly, I allowed her to keep speaking. Though I had heard and said this 100 times, I had never really put the thought into what it actually meant and even why it came to be. My mind wandered after that point, analyzing the type of person that might say this, but also the women and girls that are being labeled as this.
Very obviously, this hurtful title is terribly classist, and there is no argument there. It obviously has some rooting to it. There is a story being told, one about a girl who is pretty, more than likely very pretty, but in a natural way. There is no need for lots of makeup, or even a manicure, and her hair needs no doing, just a good brushing.
You see, beauty has this terrible problem with equating good looks with wealth. The standard of beauty nowadays are the Kardashians for the youth and The Housewives for the women of the older generations, and that thought is boggling to me since who the hell has the dime for that? This isn’t a new thing. No, of course it has been around since the beginning of the class system. Of course the wealthy are going to set the norms; they sadly are the ones who commission things, but predictably of course, it got out of hand.
You will not meet a wealthy woman now who hasn’t had her face snatched back in 20 different directions, hoping to look like Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns (1992). I personally think that the new beauty norm is a bit frightening, almost a bit feline, and I disapprove.
Wealthy folk have also put this stigma on trailer parks and mobile homes in general, looking down upon a cost effective way of living. This thought puzzles me because what do you think one of those tiny homes that people have are? Just a cool way to live? Most people who opt to live in tiny homes or live “the van life” have their financials abundantly stable before choosing to do so, while many people opt to live in a more financially smarter way like a mobile home or a doublewide, and they are the ones who are considered to be trashy?
The type of woman that would be considered as “trailer park pretty” are conventionally attractive, but do not have the funds for the higher luxuries in life. Growing up, I was mostly raised by women like this, those that didn’t need pedicures or brand new clothes. Just because a person can’t afford the things that society says makes you beautiful, doesn’t always mean that person even needs it.
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