A new study reports some not-so-surprising findings, which anyone who went to school with a considerable Greek system probably knew anyhow: Sorority girls have "bulimic attitudes." Not that I've ever heard bulimia referred to as an "attitude."
According to the study, "Undergraduate women who join a sorority are more likely to judge their own bodies from an outsider's perspective (known as self-objectification) and display higher levels of bulimic attitudes and behaviors." The study hinges on this self-objectification business - which is exactly what it sounds like. But what the study doesn't do, is delve into where the self-objectification comes from. Rather, it's all about the nasty, acid-reflux-ridden endgame. So where might this all start? I don't think it's completely about having to look at pretty "sisters" all day.
I was in a sorority — I had a good experience. Some of those girls are now my best friends. But I spent four years in the Greek system, and this obviously qualifies me to offer some completely subjective, totally unscientific theories.
In any large, popular house, there's an underlying current of competition. The catch is, I sensed it not so much amongst the girls within a single house as across the Greek community as a whole. And that's where the "self-objectification" business comes into play.
My off-the-top-of-my-head "theory" is this: Big, popular houses want, naturally, to remain big and popular. So there was competition during rush to convey how fun and cool and attractive the members of a house were in order snag the most desirable rushees/pledges, who would then make the house seem all the more fun and cool and attractive to the next year's rushees. And the pretty beat went on.
Meanwhile, there was another competition: competition for attention from the most desirable frat guys (in hindsight, an epic oxymoron). Because hey, who doesn't want to be desired by a dude wearing a white hat and with a gift for flip cup? Nevertheless, if a couple of girls from a given sorority are casually dating dudes from the crop of cute brothers at Tau Beta Bong, it's all the more likely TBB will ask that sorority to be party partners. Which is, of course, something that makes that sorority seem so fun and cool and desirable to wide-eyed rushees!
So with these elements of competition, surely it's hard not to look at oneself — or the house's collective "self" — from an outsider's point of view. It was the perspective of everyone but yourself that, at times, really seemed to matter. But hey, it's only for four years, right?
Image via Paul-W's Flickr.