How to tell if someone is being nice or secretly insulting you.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
"Bless your heart" is a perfect example of one of the South's thinly veiled insults. Here, our tea is sweet, our summers are long, and our common phrases can be shadier than a live oak tree.
Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I learned at a young age that many Southerners could win a gold medal in backhanded compliments.
In unsavory social situations, good manners are valued more than bluntness, which often results in a syrupy response dripping with sarcasm.
Netflix's series Sweet Magnolias has done a great job of bringing classic Southern lingo to households around the globe.
Today I am going to explore some of the more subtle ways of throwing shade down South.
Bless Your Heart
everyone from the south knows that \u201cbless her heart\u201d means anything but bless her heart— kiernab \ud83c\udf89\ud83e\udd0d (@kiernab \ud83c\udf89\ud83e\udd0d) 1635099502
This is perhaps the most iconic low-key insult in the South. "Bless Your Heart" is a way of implying a person is a bit slow. If someone says it, they are rarely blessing your heart.
Example: "Bless your heart, you must not be from around here."
Well Isn't That Special
"Isn't that special" is another way of saying "I'm judging you." Usually spoken with a wide and sarcastic smile, "special" can also be subbed out for "different," "interesting," or just "something."
Example: "Oh you decided to throw a dinner party on the same day as mine, well isn't that special."
Thanks For Sharing
"Thanks for sharing" is another way of saying, "TMI," or "I didn't ask, but thanks anyways."
Example: "Oh I already knew about your husband's promotion but thanks for sharing."
You Look Healthy
When a Southern aunt says to you \u201comg look at you, you look so hEaLtHy\u201d, it does not mean what you think it means— Rickey \ud83d\udd1c SWCA (@Rickey \ud83d\udd1c SWCA) 1625429860
This one is popular with family members that don't understand healthy boundaries. "You look healthy" can be a rude way of overstepping and making comments on changes to someone's physical appearance.
Example: "I haven't seen you since last year, well don't you look so...healthy."
But Don't Listen To Me
Finishing off a sentence with "But don't listen to me," is a way of saying, "I'm right, but you're not going to listen anyways." This phrase usually follows a string of unsolicited advice, and precedes an "I told you so."
Example: "If you go back to that relationship you'll get your heart broken all over again, but don't listen to me."
God Love Em'
y\u2019all my southern accent has come back out of no where & i have no idea why like im in atlanta not alabama!! but like if i start saying god love \u2018em on the timeline can y\u2019all just let it slide enough is going on rn— m\u2019choochoo (@m\u2019choochoo) 1594904334
This is usually said before a more direct insult, to soften the blow, or imply that the person means well.
Example: "God love em', but he can't sing a lick."
Aren't You Precious
There are few phrases more patronizing than a sickeningly sweet "well aren't you precious." This phrase only feels genuinely said when actually used with younger children, otherwise it feels petty.
Example: "Aren't you precious, I wore that same outfit three Easters ago."
I'm Praying For You
for the record\n"im just praying for you"\nis some southern ass shade— Keta Lamar (@Keta Lamar) 1458608424
Sometimes people are being genuine when they say they're praying for you, but other times in the South this phrase means "Clearly you're a hot mess, here's some prayers because you seem like you need them."
Example: "I know we aren't friends but I saw you're going through a break-up. Just wanted to let you know I'm praying for you."