Stereotypes are a funny thing. By definition, a stereotype is a way to categorize a group of people in simplified terms. And sure, stereotypes serve a purpose, but when it comes to Virginia, there’s not much that’s “simple” about us. Virginia is one of the most diverse places you’ll ever see. So go ahead and try to fit us in a box. Chances are it won’t work.
1. First and foremost, we are NOT West Virginia
Nothing against our neighbors to the west. You’re a lovely state and have much to offer. And yes, originally West Virginia was part of Virginia. But it’s been more than 150 years. Let’s move on, people. West Virginia has been on their own since the Civil War. Let’s end the confusion.
2. Speaking of the Civil War, yes, we know it’s over
There are those that think Virginians drive around with Confederate flags tied to their bumpers singing “I Wish I Was In Dixie.” But we don’t. We do take pride in our state’s history, but let’s be clear. We do not advocate slavery or racism. An we’ve taken great care to memorialize parts of our history – the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond is a perfect example of well-preserved and representative history.
3. We don’t dress in period costume – all of the time.
This one may be hard to believe for out-of-towners who have only been to Williamsburg…or Jamestown…or Mount Vernon…or Revolutionary War battlefields…or Civil War battlefields…Ok, before I talk myself out of this one, let’s just say that we are rich in history and proud to show it. And if that means donning a bonnet or woolen breeches now and then, well, you’re welcome for the living history tour.
4. We are bad drivers.
Ok, this one’s true. Virginia is not known for fantastic roadway experiences. I’m going to go out on a limb and blame the more congested areas like Northern Virginia (there’s only so much you can do with constant construction on 95, 495, 395…and the list goes on), then I’m going to immediately blame Forbes Magazine for calling it out. We earned 3 out of the top 25 spots for cities with the most accidents. Sorry about that.
5. We don’t all hunt.
No, seriously. There are plenty of those who do, and most of us know at least a few of them (in our own families). But we also have a lot of animal rights activism, habitat protection and wildlife refuges. And, to be fair to the hunters out there, particularly when it comes to deer, many of our hunters eat the meat they hunt. Venison can be cooked just about any way you can imagine.
6. We can dig into some BBQ or grits or biscuits and gravy, but that's not all we eat.
Virginia actually has an incredible culinary history with some of the finest dining anywhere in the country. “TheDailyMeal.com” ranks 3 of our restaurants (LeMaire in Richmond, Peter Chang’s China Café in Fredericksburg and The Inn at Little Washington in Washington) in their top 100 restaurants in the NATION – and that’s up against the likes of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. There’s no question, we eat well in Virginia.
7. We don’t all wear bowties and Lily Pulitzer dresses…
Don’t go to the Foxfield races in Charlottesville, a gallery opening in Arlington or a fundraiser in Richmond and assume that’s all there is to it. Virginia is full of diverse and creative people from top to bottom.
8. Or overalls and camouflage…
Again, we’re full of every different type and style. Sometimes overalls are simply what the job calls for and sometimes people like to blend in with nature – even when they’re not in it. But we wear what we like, when we like. And that’s what keeps us interesting.
9. Everyone in Northern Virginia is NOT a politician, government agent or spy.
Sure, it’s an easy mistake to make given NOVA’s proximity to Washington, D.C. And perhaps the fact that Langley (CIA), the Pentagon, the DEA and approximately 40 other government agencies are in Northern Virginia might lead one to believe that we’re crawling with big brother-types. But Northern Virginia is also full of technology, healthcare, banking, media and so much more, making it one of the best job markets in the nation.
10. On that note, everyone in Southern Virginia is NOT a hillbilly.
Virginia has some of the best small towns and farmlands anywhere. And we have a great deal of pride about the slower-paced, less populated parts of Virginia – they are full of amazing people: artists, musicians, scientists and writers. And yes, we have farms, big beautiful stretches of land that have been passed down for generations – nearly 90% of our farms are individually, not corporately, owned. We also have small towns where people talk with a Southern drawl and get together for a pig pickin’ on the weekends with moonshine and banjos. But that doesn’t make us hillbilly – or if it does, we most certainly don’t mind.
11. We grow more than just tobacco.
Philip Morris might be in Richmond – and tobacco might provide a livelihood for many farmers in the state, but our number one agricultural crop is plants for nurseries, sod and turfgrass, followed by corn, soybeans, wheat and hay.
12. We don’t keep dogs under our porch – well, not all of the time.
I mention this one ONLY because someone (I won’t say where they were from but it rhymes with “Spennsylvania”) asked me this once. The worst part? My dog had just had puppies and they were, in fact, spending a lot of time running around under the back porch. It was just coincidence. I think…
13. We’re not snobby.
We’re just kind of the best and really comfortable talking about it. Is that so wrong? We have amazing history, breathtaking scenery, world-class schools and one of the better economies. Not to mention cities, mountains, beaches, arts, culture, music, theater and…you get the point. But we are also some of the friendliest, most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.
14. Virginia cannot be defined by any one thing.
This is absolutely, 100% true. Truth be told, I had a hard time finding stereotypes that weren’t completely broad or over-simplified. That fact of that matter is that Virginia is filled with some of the most fascinating people and places of any state in the nation. We have mountains and mountain folk, beaches with beach bums, cities full of metro-whatevers and our fair share of down-home good ol’ boys and girls. And at the end of the day, we’re all proud to be exactly who we are. Virginians don’t make apologies. We love our state and our roots – so if you has to make a single defining stereotype, let’s just say Virginia is for lovers and leave it at that.
What stereotypes have you heard about Virginia? Let us know the ones that make you laugh and the ones that get under skin!