Psych and Prejudice Pt. 2
Sororities: Are they proof that appearance discrimination still exists in the USA?
Greek life is often the focal point of a lot of student life on most large state campuses. Smaller campuses, like my own, do not have sororities or fraternities. From an outside perspective, Greek life seems like either an amazing way to make lifelong friends and promote certain acts of scholarship and service or it seems very superficial. So, what's the deal with sororities?
If you took the chance to view the video at the top of the page, and I highly suggest you do, you will see a recruitment video for the sorority Alpha Phi at the University of Alabama. Have you noticed anything in particular about it? There's the fact that there is only one person of color in that video that is a member of the sorority. You might also have noticed that all of them are fairly thin and either blonde or brunette. The video puts forth a sense that only women who fit that description should apply. This image fits with the sorority stereotype that Hollywood has promoted through films such as Sydney White: that sororities are basically full of women who look like real life barbie dolls. The video does not say anything about what the sorority stands for or what works they do on campus. It puts forth a feeling of forced happiness to try and attract people to the sorority. Now, I know not all of Alpha Phi's international sororities are like this, but this certain one is promoting that image, and Alpha Phi of University of Alabama is not the only one.
A woman was recently rejected from all the sororities at her university for having down syndrome. What message does that send? It tells anyone who is different, or has a disability, or who isn't conventionally pretty that they are not welcome. It is this kind of appearance discrimination or "Lookism" as some have called it that negatively impact college life in America. In an age where feminism is on the rise and more liberal Americans are taking a stand against any form of discrimination, sororities have a tendency to set progress back with this behavior.
Now, not all sororities have exhibited this behavior. Some sororities are very adamant about community service and acceptance. I, personally, have known people who are a part of sororities that are like sisterhoods for life. These relationships are also shown in movies (Legally Blonde comes to mind, even if the members are portrayed as airheads, they are airheads that support and love each other). However, the mainstream view of sororities has a tendency to be negative due to the nature of these institutions. The fix is simple: Acceptance and diversity.
This isn't to say that this kind of Lookism is displayed only in Greek life on bigger campuses. Lookism shows up on a smaller scale everyday. Think about Tinder or acting. People judge people based on the way they look every single day. We swipe right on people we think we'd like based on how they look. We pick people to portray certain characters because they look like how we picture them to be. However, a person's outward appearance has nothing to do with how worthy they are of camaraderie or love or a job. Attraction is not only skin deep. A person is more than their hair color or their weight or their disability. No one is perfect, and expecting someone to tick off all the boxes on how we think they should look is ridiculous. There is no rule on the books saying that in order to be the perfect candidate, you must look like X, Y, or Z. To look past all of those things to see the person underneath is something that we all need to strive for.