Something so Simple says so Much….

I live in the south so the phrase “Well bless her/his heart,” is very common here. On the surface it sounds like a very sweet concerned sentiment but it is really just a sugary sweet hidden insult.

“That little girl has a face only a mother could love. Bless her little heart.”

What starts out as something so mean is sweetened and the insult becomes softer when you add those little words. I remember trying to explain how it works to someone from Australia (blond hair, blue eyes, adorable accent, lets just be honest I was totally flirting) and he didn’t understand until I could put it into some kind of context for him:

Me: (a girl who looks like a hot mess walks in to the bar we were in) Oh my God look at her she looks like she got ready in the dark, bless her heart. 

Him: (nodding astonished) You are so right that didn’t sound mean at all. 

And with that we went back to our drinks, I felt good about my lesson he felt a little wiser about the ways of the southern woman. 

Now for the rest of the uninitiated here are the other many uses for “Bless your heart.”

Example:  When someone walks into a room wearing a distasteful outfit and someone says “Bless her/his heart” … it means: “That poor thing has the tackiest taste in the world!” or it could even be more specific as in “Good grief, those pants make her bottom look like it’s dragging the ground!”

When, let’s say, a family member calls and tells you about something stupid another family member has done there are several “Bless her/his heart”s and this means: “Well, even though they don’t have enough sense to get out of a wet paper bag, we still love them.”

When someone you love and care about gets hurt or has something bad happen to them and you say “Bless your heart”…. it means “Oh, I am so sorry you are going through this, I wish I could take it away and make things better.”

It can be a form of empathy and used as a big hug…. as in when a friend calls and tells you about how bad her job is, and the kids are going crazy, and the dog just destroyed the house….. we say “Bless your heart”….and it means:  ”Honey, I hate that you’ve had a bad day, but I’m glad it’s you and not me!”

And then one of the biggest ways southerners use “Bless your heart”….is a way to identify each other.  You pretty much know where someone came from when they use this powerful phrase. You also know where someone came from if they use it incorrectly.  {And you appropriately say “Bless. your. heart.”}

Now, this is definitely an abbreviated lesson….just in a nutshell.  There are many other ways to use it, and the nuances are many….for instance: when it is said through clenched teeth, drawn out slowly, with a squeal, etc…..but, for any of you that are not familiar with it, I don’t want to overwhelm you.


3 thoughts on “Something so Simple says so Much….

  1. That was awesome! I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your post. I, too, am a transplant to Florida, and never heard the phrase till I moved here. Every time I hear it spoken, I laugh (to myself, of course, lest anyone should be offended) because half the time it really is used as a sweetened insult.
    Here is another manner of speaking found often in Florida (bless their hearts : D)

  2. Or you can always give them a reality check and simply say “Honey, your brain seems to be dead and bless your heart…stupid ass!” I have to remind myself from time to time that these dummies are also God’s children, makes it easier to deal with the oblivious ones. I find most people (yankees) watch “The Beverly Hillbillies” and tend to believe that nonsense, although extremely entertaining but I have have yet to actually associate with anyone on Jed Clampet or Granny’s level. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen those types of people but they give us a bad name. So our (Southerners) best kept secret is our own little special way of telling you off in the most sweet sugary way known to us to date. The other party has no clue they’ve been called a jackass to their face!! Well written!! Kudos to you!

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