Coming into school at the University of Miami, I was unsure I’d go Greek. My assessment of Greek life was based off movies and pop culture, and I couldn’t help but think it would be consumed by snobby, prissy girls dressed in Lily Pulitzer who cared way too much about their status and image in school.
Being that I grew up in Miami (and never left), I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into UM. However, despite Miami being my hometown, I still underwent the typical freshman feelings. I was feeling lost and, quite frankly, alone. Growing up with the same friend group from 6th grade until my senior year, I wasn’t sure how to formally greet people, let alone make friends. I’d go in for the kiss on the cheek almost every time and nearly make out with 98% of the people I was meeting for the first time. PSA to all Miami peeps, DO NOT go in for the kiss on the cheek, people handshake (weird, I know).
So, despite my preconceived notions of what Greek life would potentially entail, I thought, “what better way to make friends than to rush?” You’re thrown into a group of around 150 girls (and way more at schools other than UM), so you’re guaranteed to find your crew. And lucky for me, I did and I love them endlessly.
Needless to say, I’m so thankful I went Greek. I’ve found my best friends for a lifetime, my future bridesmaids, and girls that’ll eat 3 am McFlurries and grilled cheese with me no matter if there’s a pool party around the corner.
I think it’s important to treat yo self at times, but I do believe that fitness is an important aspect of life (despite my laziness and lack of gym appearance in over a month). Being in Miami, you’re surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people with completely insatiable personalities. Miami natives are never satisfied. Whether it’s their physical appearance, cars, or homes, Miami natives are known for always striving for what’s bigger and better.
However, I fear that the insatiable mentality has translated to college students here at UM, especially in terms of body image. I’ve seen girls join sororities here at UM at a healthy weight, and progress into a not-so-healthy, almost emaciated state. So, what gives? Is it Miami’s toxic environment causing 20-somethings to think they’re not skinny, pretty, or fit enough? Or is it the sorority lifestyle that causes this shift?
This thought led to me asking people if they thought joining a sorority negatively or positively affected their body image.
“For me, it definitely impacted my body image positively. After I stopped playing sports, I lost motivation to stay healthy and active. My sisters helped me stay motivated, went to the gym with me, encouraged me to keep eating a clean/healthy diet, and overall promoted a better lifestyle. Seeing a lot of girls making their health (and working out) a priority, helped keep it a priority for me.”
“Everyone in my sorority has such an amazing body, that it can make you feel bad about yours at times, but everyone is so complimentary at the same time.”
“In my experience, I’ve learned to become more accepting of myself and feel more confident about how I look. I have sisters of all shapes and sizes and individually each of them embrace how they look. Whenever I’m feeling negative about how I look or am feeling gross about having a food baby, my sisters are always there to remind me that I’m beautiful and that I don’t need to beat myself up about indulging. It’s really been a blessing for me.”
“I’ve never felt more like myself than in my sorority. It was somewhere where I would always feel super comfortable.”
“I can honestly say that being in a sorority has changed my body image for the better. I have amazing sisters who are in no way cookie cutter. We all have different interests, personalities, and body types and my sisters have taught me to embrace exactly who I am. I can say that being in a sorority provides you with the best support system about anything body related. You have 50 plus friends who care about you and want to build you up to be the best version of yourself. Plus, we love to eat together, what’s better than that.”
“Living with so many girls can be toxic in the way that if one person makes a negative comment about their own body, it was likely that you would also think or say something negative about your own.”
“Girls dress for each other, so sometimes you feel like you have to look just as good as the girl next to you.”
“I think overall, the recruitment process can single-handedly destroy your body image.”
“A couple of girls in my sorority are dealing with eating disorders and struggling with their body image, and it’s a little bit of a bad cycle, because they are all living in the chapter house together, so they compare themselves to each other and it’s so unhealthy.”
It’s hard to jump into recruitment as an itty bitty freshman unsure of yourself and your surroundings. Growing up in an extremely fitness and appearance-crazed environment, I was so worried I wasn’t going to be pretty or skinny enough to impress the girls I was talking to. However, this also has a lot to do with the way sororities choose to portray themselves here through their insanely over-the-top recruitment videos with unrealistic body expectations.
I came into different parties thinking I had to project myself a certain way. But, after the first day, I quickly realized that if you want to find your home away from home, it’s crucial to stay true to yourself. If others aren’t accepting you for you, then why bother?
Despite the countless articles online stating that sororities solely affect people’s body image negatively (like this article from the Huffington Post), girls seemed to have more innately positive things to say than negative. This was a HUGE shock to me. Writing this article and talking to girls in sororities across the nation helped me realize that my sorority life/environment is far different than most. It’s pretty evident to me now that Miami’s environment is what fosters the majority of the negativity and body-shaming, not sorority life.
Personally, I’ve always been fairly comfortable in my own skin, and I’m not quick to compare myself to others, but if I were, I would most likely succumb to the pressures of having that “perfect” body. Living in Miami, you’re surrounded by such beautiful people with incredibly toned bodies, that it’s almost hard not to wish you looked like them. So yes, I’ve seen girls I know struggle with eating disorders and body image issues, but these issues aren’t caused by being in a sorority. They’re influenced by the environment we’re in, the changes we’re going through, and our own person battles we deal with everyday.
Joining a sorority will provide you with an absolutely incredible support system that will be there for you through thick and thin. I’ve seen the power a sorority can have on someone’s life and it’s absolutely incredible, how much everyone genuinely cares about each other.