10 Kentucky Stereotypes You Hear When You Leave Kentucky (And Determining Which Is True Or False)

I was born and raised in Kentucky, and I always hear the same stereotypical questions when I travel.
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1. Kentuckians don’t wear shoes.

False. Maybe seventy years ago when some people only had one pair of shoes, this stereotype would have made sense. Now it’s just silly. We’ll go barefoot in the house or maybe on our own lawn, just like anybody else. No matter what state you live in, being dragged to the shoe store with your mother is still a guaranteed three hours of torment. My mom has more shoes than Journeys, and I’m not just talking about the ones on display.

2. Kentuckians are poor.

True. Who the fuck isn’t? Minimum wage in this country is barely higher than the cost of a gallon of milk, how can you not be poor? You’ve seen the price of gas lately.

3. They’re all inbred.

False. The prevalence of this stereotype is the very reason that incest is more taboo in Appalachian states than anywhere else in America. To be blunt: We’re tired of hearing that nasty shit. Ew. No. If someone catches you kissing your cousin here, you’ll probably be alienated from our society forever. If it’s your immediate relative, (sibling, parents, aunts and uncles, etc.) I guarantee that gossip will outlive you. Your epitaph will read here lies the town sex offender.

As for the legality, here’s a brief rundown of what will happen to you if you get caught in bed with an immediate relative: In West Virginia, the penalty for incest is 15 years. In Pennsylvania, it’s 20. In Kentucky It’s 25, and almost everywhere else in this region, it will make you a lifer.

Marrying your first cousin is also illegal throughout most of Appalachia, (duh) particularly in Kentucky and West Virginia. Cousins need to go somewhere more civilized, like New York or California, to get married and have their nasty, defective children.

4. The KFC is better in Kentucky.

True. When I travel, I avoid the KFC. When family comes in from up north, they ask for a bucket of chicken. Nobody knows why it’s better– it’s a Kentuckian secret, and we will never share it with outsiders. I’ll give you a hint, though. It involves a yearly ritual and a virgin sacrifice to Colonel Sanders.

5. Most Kentuckians can’t read or write.

False. This article was written by someone who was born and raised in Kentucky. I think I’ve demonstrated my ability to do both. I’ve never knowingly met anyone over the age of five who couldn’t read and write, to be honest. I’d also like to mention that Kentuckians fall on the national average as far as official test scores go and whatnot.

6. They sit on their porches every night to drink moonshine and play the banjo.

False. I’m not sure I know anyone who plays the banjo. Well, I guess they’re kind of like little, white guitars, right? I mean, if you can play a guitar, you can probably play a banjo. How many strings do they have? Okay, I’ll stop making a fool out of myself. I don’t know anything about banjos. I don’t even know what they sound like.
Oh, and I would prefer bourbon or a nice Moscato. We’re famous for our bourbon, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

7. Basketball!

True? I don’t know what to say. Nobody has any stereotypes related to basketball, but people always bring it up when they find out I’m from Kentucky. The University of Kentucky is famous for its basketball team, so I’m not surprised people immediately think of basketball, but can you tone it down? I don’t bleed blue. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was always picked last in gym class, leave me alone. (mutters something spiteful about UConn and goes back to pretending to know nothing about basketball)

8. You don’t have teeth/ you have poor dental hygiene.

False. Sure, we have some elderly with dentures. But that’s everywhere. I don’t know anyone under seventy who’s missing a tooth, except maybe an excited kid who can’t wait for the tooth fairy.

Of course, our teeth would be even better if the coal industry would stop dumping toxins into our water supply during Mountaintop Removal. They should call Appalachia the Cancer Center of the World, but that’s a story for another day.

9. You can’t wait to get out, but you always go back.

True. I want to move somewhere near the shore, but unless Virginia falls into the ocean, it won’t happen. Somebody in Frankfort will turn on the YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE US ray, and everyone who moved away in the past year will summarily be sent back to Kentucky. The victims think it’s their own idea to return, but did they ever consider why their mother suddenly fell ill?
I’m onto you, Frankfort. I’ll know exactly what’s happening when my beach house is burned down to the ground, and I’ll try not to fall for it, but I won’t be able to fight it. I can’t escape the Kentucky Beam. No one can.

10. The whole state is covered in beautiful bluegrass.

False. Ha. Yeah. I wish. My yard looks like somebody sprayed weed killer everywhere except where the weeds were. I decided I was going to do some landscaping, but I spent three hours shoveling through crabgrass and never found any soil. Just clay. The deeper I went, the more clay I found. Maybe I’ll just give up and make flowerpots; I live too close to the city. (Yes, there are cities here.) TC mark

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