Southern Belle Manners: What Would Phaedra Do?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 21:14 Written by  Iya Bakare

When I was 14 years old, my mom retired from her job and wanted to return to her hometown to live closer to my Big Mama, so most of my teenage years and the first few years of my adulthood were spent in Mississippi. Adapting to saying “yes ma’am” and “yes sir,” as opposed to a simple “yes” when speaking to my elders and to an overall change in the ebbs and flows of everyday life were adjustments for me, but nothing I couldn’t handle.


One of the main reasons I was able to acclimate myself to the new way of life was the foundation my role models laid for me before I left Chicago. Writing thank you notes on personalized stationery, laying my clothes out for the next day and wearing the proper undergarments for attire were just a few of the things my mom (a Mississippi native) taught me as a child. Does that mean she reared me as a ‘Southern belle’ in training? If you ask her, she’d probably say no because she likes to simply call herself a ‘lady.’ If you ask Phaedra Parks, she’d probably say yes indeed.

In her latest book, Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun and Never Have an Off Moment, the Georgia native says she offers must-read tips and advice that ladies from the cradle to the grave can live by.

“It was important for me to write this book because I couldn’t find any modern books that addressed social graces with modern perspectives,” Phaedra adds.

As the managing partner of a law firm, a licensed mortician, funeral director, entrepreneur, wife and mother, it would be an understatement to say the author adorns several fascinators. Yet, she says she manages to keep it all together as she stays grounded with both prayer and prioritizing. By not losing focus of herself as a person and scheduling time for herself, Phaedra says that also allows her to stay refreshed.

With the focus of projecting the image of grace and integrity, the reality television personality of The Real Housewives of Atlanta says she doesn’t pay attention to what is said about her and is happy with the person she is.

“Television is television and meant for entertainment,” she admits. “I don’t live my life with regret. I’m a role model for all women. I let them know you can be different and be successful.”

Taking the road less traveled, Phaedra confesses her decision to join the funeral business was not the most popular one, but she decided to venture into something new. As the only female attorney casted on the television show, she continues to cross barriers and live by her own rules – many of which she shares in her novel.

“You can have it all and stand by your convictions,” Phaedra adds. “You don’t have to sacrifice anything to be a wife or a mother.”

The entrepreneur speaks on what she’s observed of women of the “northern persuasion.” Our diction, our choice of clothing and our relationships with our loved ones are just a few of the things that seem to puzzle the Georgia native (bless our hearts), yet she says a lady doesn’t have to live in the South to be considered a ‘Southern belle.’ From recipes to remedies, this book outlines what Phaedra perceives as tips a lady should live by.

I don’t necessarily believe in the idea of a ‘Southern belle’ because there are ladies all over the country. I lived in Mississippi for 11 years and everything and everyone wasn’t as sweet as a Georgia peach (nor are they here in Chicago all of the time). But, I can’t disagree with wanting the best and attaining the best.

“We should live in a place of expectation of the best and in a place of gratitude,” Phaedra commented.

I certainly agree with that, ma’am.

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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