Steel Magnolias

3 mins read

By Lee Scott

The 1989 film “Steel Magnolias” is one of my favorites. It was a classic “chick flick” featuring six very strong women. The women embodied the definition of the term “steel magnolias,” which is the combination of resilience alongside traditional femininity. I did not truly appreciate the significance of the Steel Magnolia women until I moved to Beaufort. It was here that I started to see very strong women with their manicured nails dressed in pastel dresses and wearing a string of pearls. They epitomized the very definition of steel magnolias.

It started when I volunteered for my church’s fall bazaar in 2014. At first, I thought them to be “petite fleurs,” but then we got to work. I was captivated by these Southern women. The boxes were unloaded from trucks and emptied onto tables where everything was then priced. I was impressed by their work ethic and energy, along with their Southern hospitality. Clearly, I was one of those new women from the north; but despite my non-southern accent, they greeted me with enthusiasm. Then there were the baked goods tables where women in aprons collected the pies, cakes, and cookies from women dropping them off. On the day of the bazaar, the women came out in force and I could almost hear the character Truvy say, “I have got some fried chicken here, prepared by Christian women.” 

These women came to mind recently while talking to my 5-year old (going on 16) granddaughter, Annie. During the conversation I asked her, in jest, if she had learned how to mow the lawn yet to pull her weight in the family. She responded by saying, “Ladies do not mow lawns.”

“What?,” her mother said in the background. “I mowed the lawn when I was 10 years old with a push mower.”

I assured my granddaughter that I did not expect her to be mowing the lawn anytime soon, but I explained to her about the steel magnolias I know here in Beaufort. I told her about the women who push snakes out of their gardens with rakes and then cut roses to decorate their homes, all the while wearing their pearl necklaces. Then I explained about the women who supported other women in times of need who were not afraid to bake a cake or mow a lawn. Finally, I explained that she does not have to give up her princess crown or her pink ballet slippers or her faux pearl necklace if she doesn’t want to, but at some point, someday, she must learn how to mow the lawn. 

“Fine,” she said, “But I am not doing it with a push lawn mower.” Another steel magnolia is born.

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