There are many stereotypes that seem to define Arkansas in movies and film. However, most of them are just lies.
Often it is thought that Arkansans are just barefoot, overall wearing Hillbillies who are missing teeth and spend their days smoking corn cob pipes.
Television shows like The Beverly Hillbillies don’t seem to help us much. Supposedly, The Beverly Hillbillies were from somewhere in the Ozark Mountains and we all know that Jed Clampett discovered oil while hunting for rabbits in his “oil-rich swamp” (source). Since you won’t find too many swamps in the Ozark Mountains, perhaps Arkansans don’t actually deserve the stigma that The Beverly Hillbillies have placed on us.
What about Lum and Abner?
My husband and I are huge fans of taking Caribbean cruises. To date, we have been on 10. One year, we went on 4! To pass the time on the drive to the cruise ship ports, we started listening to the Lum and Abner radio show on CDs.
This radio show was based on a real town in Arkansas. Waters, Arkansas to be exact. Lum and Abner played hillbillies who lived in this small town and seemed to get themselves in all sorts of trouble. They worked at the Jot ‘Em Down store which was a small town general store. Folks in the town were often portrayed as backwoods hillbillies with little education.
“As co-owners of the Jot ’em Down Store in the fictional town of Pine Ridge, Arkansas, the pair are constantly stumbling upon moneymaking ideas only to find themselves fleeced by nemesis Squire Skimp, before finally finding a way to redeem themselves. Lum and Abner played the hillbilly theme with deceptive cleverness.” source
Though the radio show is very funny, it doesn’t give an accurate picture of Arkansas.
Let’s talk about a few of the Arkansas stereotypes that we seem to suffer from here in the Natural State and see if we can set the record straight.
1. Arkansans don’t have all of their teeth
Where did this get started? Why is it that people think that southern folks can’t have all of their teeth? Is there something about living in the South that makes our teeth fall out? Maybe it’s that other people think we don’t have dentists down here.
Well, I’m here to say that we do have dentists, we have all of our teeth and though it may seem surprising, we even own toothbrushes.
Mine is electric.
2. Arkansans don’t have swimming pools
This is a new stereotype for me. I asked my Arkansas friends if they could tell me some Arkansas stereotypes and one friend mentioned that she has been asked before if Arkansans have swimming pools or if we just have swimming holes.
In case you are wondering, “Arkansas swimming hole” often refers to a river, creek or lake that might be off the beaten path. Generally, we call our favorite spot a “swimming hole.”
Yes, many of us here have our favorite swimming holes. In fact, they’re actually 13 epic Arkansas swimming holes that you won’t want to miss!
But you may be surprised to know that we also have swimming pools. Big, chlorinated, clear water swimming pools just like everyone else.
So, if swimming in lakes, rivers and creeks isn’t your thing, bring your sunscreen and flip-flops and head to the local pool. You can get a sunburn there just as well as anywhere else.
3. We settle feuds with our shotguns
Many of us have had pesky neighbors that drive us crazy. At our previous house, my husband and I had a neighbor who wood dump buckets of aluminum cans on his driveway. He would then get in his mom’s minivan and drive over the aluminum cans repeatedly to smash them.
Forward. Reverse. Forward. Reverse.
Not only was this weird by itself but he chose to do it around 2 in the morning and his driveway was right next to our bedroom window.
We just cranked up our sound machine and not once did we get out our shotgun and threaten him. The idea that Arkansans are all running around with their shotguns and having feuds is ridiculous. There are easier ways to settle arguments and disputes.
One time, we realized that same neighbor was throwing his dog’s droppings into our backyard. I’m not going to tell you how we settled that one.
4. Arkansans don’t wear shoes
This one’s a little bit hard to address because there is a tad bit of truth in it. For young kids playing outside, this is most likely a true statement. My kids love to run barefoot outside.
When I was little, my summer days always began with bare feet running outside and ended with dirty feet coming in for a bath. You can learn a lot by feeling the Earth squish under your toes. That’s the good part about being a child. Freedom.
However the part about this stereotype that is false is that yes, we do own shoes and we wear them 95% of the time. You won’t find barefoot Arkansans at the grocery store or running around town.
5. Arkansans marry their cousins
Do I have to even talk about this? Who thinks this is true? Do New Yorkers marry their cousins? No.
And neither do Arkansans. Let’s get a grip, y’all.
6. All arkansans play banjos
As I write this part I can’t help but laugh. Just last night my husband was going to play his guitar for the kids. He couldn’t seem to find his guitar pick because our kids were in charge of cleaning the living room this week and after they finished organizing everything, we couldn’t seem to find anything.
So, they asked him if he would play his banjo instead. My husband took up playing the banjo several years back. It has a pleasant sound and we love to listen to him play.
We own (and play) the banjo, guitar and piano.
We have many talented friends who also know how to play all sorts of instruments. They play the piano, violin, drums, electric guitar and more. It’s not just banjos that you will hear in Arkansas. We have many beautiful instruments that we all like to play.
You will also love: Arkansas Sayings: Phrases Only Southerners Understand
7. Arkansans make moonshine
My husband and I live on 5 acres in the woods of Arkansas and I can guarantee you that we don’t have a still anywhere on this property.
We have a Stihl, but not a still. Get it?
There is no need for Barney Fife to come arrest us for cooking up moonshine for Otis Campbell. However, Arkansas does have many wonderful breweries who are brewing up unique beverages for you to enjoy.
Let’s put an end to these Arkansas stereotypes
I hope you learned something new today and if you don’t believe me, come on over and see for yourself. Arkansas is a great place for a vacation and there are plenty of things to do here!
Did I miss a stereotype? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear what you’ve got!