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Saturday, December 02, 2023

With Alabama rolling into town this week, it seems fitting to discuss what gives us Southerners our sex appeal. Whether it's handsome men sporting the old-South look or lovely ladies looking like Southern belles, there's just something about the style that makes the SEC one good-looking conference.

But what is real Southern sex appeal? Good looks and the proper clothes certainly help. But it just may be that irresistible charm accented with a long, Southern drawl that exemplifies true sexiness.

Bottom line: What makes Southern people so damn sexy?

He says ...

True Southern sex appeal isn't about the looks; it's the personality that makes all the difference. Yes, ladies, you just read that correctly. A man just told you it's not always about how attractive you are. We go to UF, where there are good-looking people all over the place. Any girl can throw on Southern garb and pretend to play the role of a hot Southern belle. Real Southern beauty is a lifestyle - not a fashion trend.

The girls who do Southern style right are the ones who don't try at all. They're naturally sweet - with a hint of innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and have a good time but won't necessarily show it until the time is right. But more than anything, being Southern is about being polite and lovable. A real Southern belle is a lady - born and bred below the Mason-Dixon line.

This is what makes Southern charm so hard to ignore. It's that refreshing change of pace from the party-every-night types who act like everything is a popularity contest. Southern girls know who they are and how they look and are perfectly content with it. That, my friends, is sex appeal.

She Says ...

When Rhett Butler notoriously leaves Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind," despite her struggle to secure herself into his emotional grasp, and tells her that he "... just don't give a damn," knees of female audiences knocked uncontrollably in conjunction with the erratic heaving of O'Hara's sobs.

What is it about Southern gentlemen that drive women wild? Is it their timeless chivalry? Their rebellious sense of adventure? Their effortless combination of machismo and manners?

Ladies, let's bring y'all into this, too. What the hell is going on with the sex appeal in this heat? Although the slew of stereotypes that depict "The South" are as dated as the petticoats O'Hara adorns, I can't help but acknowledge an ethereal attraction to those who opt to dodge winter's chill.

As I hit the pavement this week to figure out the mystery behind the provocative Southern je ne sais quoi, one universal characteristic stood out above and beyond as the most titillating quality of Southerners: the accent. I don't know whether it's the drawl or the dialect, but some aspect of this pronunciation stimulates Southern residents to contribute even more to the humid climate.

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Ashley Lowery, a UF art history graduate student, was one of my interviewees who absolutely encompasses this allure. Born and raised in the small town of Dalton, Ga., Lowery epitomizes the expression "peach" with her bubbly personality, smiley disposition, long, naturally blonde locks and inviting Southern articulation.

"I often get complimented by my gentleman callers, and I have been guilty of using that fact to my advantage," she said. "In turn, Southern men can be VERY sexy with their accents - Blake Shelton, I am talking about you."

Of course, a solid Southern twang is not everyone's cup of sweet tea. Lowery admitted that at times, the way she speaks has put her at a disadvantage.

"When I grew up in Georgia, I disowned my Southern-ness because of stereotypes, and my mama's insistence that I could not have my "puddin'" until I pronounced the "g" at the end," she said. "However, I have learned to own it and be proud of my accent, because it is as natural to me as a French accent is to a Frenchman."

Self-acceptance - now that's hot.

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