Pledging A Sorority | The Secret World Of Being A Pledge

Cosmo's August issue features an article titled "How Far Some Girls Go to Get "Sorority Pretty." It's a piece by Maddy Zollo Rusbosin that sparked something in me that I just gotta share.

People - my heart breaks for the young women making drastic changes to themselves in order to be accepted by what they think is a worthy source. Maddy's thought piece summarizes how much young women spend, both monetarily and emotionally, to get into their dream sororities.

I have seen enough Hollywood iterations of pledging and heard plenty of stories from people that have spent their college career in a sorority to know that there's not much of a difference between fact and fiction.

I used to think sororities were, at their core, a place where sisterhood thrives. While it's probably true that they're meant to be a place where women can grow, learn, and better the communities around them during their time on campus, I feel like there's a lot of ugly truth behind the idea of pledging a sorority.

Before you have the privilege of "paying your dues," you're expected to fork over thousands of dollars to achieve the perfect appearance. Your nail or lip color can't be too bright; hair must be frosted and perfectly curled away from the face; makeup must be worn any time you are to present yourself in public. Can you only wear a ponytail once a week, too, I wonder?

In order to meet this seemingly harmless list of demands, some girls hire professional coaches to help them attract the attention of the right sorority. As if it weren't enough to tell your parents that you're attending a school that wants upwards of $40,000 annually try telling your parents that you'll be spending your food stipend on a sorority coach, who will make themselves available 24/7 so that you can ensure your appearance isn't lacking.

Hiring a coach may not even matter in the long run. Prior to pledging, girls are subjected to stalking. Like a good Tinder date, potential pledges are vetted on their social channels, where sorority leaders form judgements based on the images, filters, and captions shared. That senior week tailgate pic with 350 likes may not be doing you any favors anymore.

If you make it past the stalking, you're then subjected to an in-person assessment. Sure, body positivity is trendy and I'm certain there are many sororities that "promote" it, but are they truthfully? When I was in college, a friend of mine was participating in rush activities, one of which involved pledges sit on top of a running dryer to see what jiggled. Whether it was your thighs, stomach, arms, or your entire body, you had a week to tighten up or you were out. That doesn't sound like a celebration of body positivity to me, let alone a decent way to create a sense of sisterhood. I didn't understand this in college, but knowing and loving your true self is actually really easy and really important. I don't think many rush activities allow for this kind of self-love.

It hurts my soul to know that women are having these experiences every year on college campuses. College is meant to be a time devoted to finding yourself, which is virtually impossible when you subject yourself to the pressure of fitting into the right crowd. And that's just it - girls are choosing to subject themselves to this kind of pressure because they think being part of a sorority is the only way.

In reality, I think that what goes on during rush is a lot worse than actually being a member of a sorority. I find it hard to believe that this kind of judgement could carry on throughout the year, but what do I really know? I'm sure there are sororities out there that do regular weight checks. And by no means am I trying to say that sororities are the root of all evil...but I might be saying that their choice in rush activities are. 

In an effort to derail my tirade against all that is Greek Life, I did a search for the "benefits of being in a sorority."

It only helped a little.

"A high level of camaraderie." Once you're in, sure. But you'll have to endure a lot to get to that point. I don't feel a lot of love for the girls that made fun of the XXXL tag sticking out of my hoodie, and I certainly wouldn't waste my energy feeling any kind of way towards someone who sat me on a dryer and told me what I needed to fix.

"An endless stream of learning opportunities." I think that had I rushed a sorority in college, I would have learned a ton about the things I wanted to change about myself or avoid becoming completely.

It brought me solace to know that 48% more women quit sororities during last year's school year. This has to be attributed to the girls who are learning to love themselves in other ways aside from seeking the acceptance of a culture club.

I think Maddy's article was important in educating the general public as to the trends in pledging a sorority. Sure, it was beauty column in Cosmo, but it clearly shook me to my core and I hope a few other people are shooketh, too.

If you're planning to pledge a sorority this year, I love that journey for you, but please remember that regardless of your background, physical appearance, or personal aspirations, YOU matter. At the end of the day, listen to your mind and your body and do what's right for you. If anyone attempts to sit you on a dryer or usher you to a scale, show yourself to the door.

It would bring me great joy if someone planning to rush would make the attempt by being the most authentic form of themselves (and chronicle the time). I'm not saying ignore basic bodily maintenance (homegirl has a mustache appear after a week post-wax), but I am saying dare to be yourself. And most importantly, do it for yourself.