Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kate Moss, AB??

I'm a little embarrassed for my alma mater. Apparently a nerd school in the middle of a city known for deep-dish pizza is, despite appearances and defying all likelihood, a hotbed of anorexia. I suggest that before reading this article and worrying about that girl you saw wearing only a size 8, the poor thing, you take a walk around, say, Columbia, Princeton, or NYU, where many a scrawny lass makes her way into the Bobst library in hotpants, come rain or shine.

The point of this Chicago Maroon article is that, among sorority girls at the University of Chicago, there is pressure to be thin. And what percentage of women at the University are in sororities? I can't find an exact number, but it looks like under 1 in 10 is involved in "Greek life", and there are 10 fraternities but only three sororities. In other words, this article applies to about a dozen people. Eventually the piece gets around to mentioning that this is the exception, not the rule, but by then it's too ridiculous.

A 2006 AOPi alum is quoted, complaining that, among sorority sisters, “being thin matters more in regards to being attractive than clothing, having a pretty face, or being a sweet person. If you are not thin, you are not hip.” Just checking--is caring about what people wear or how pretty their faces are less shallow than caring about weight? Oh well.

The problem for sorority girls at the University of Chicago is that they choose to rebel against the dominant culture of geekiness and go out, you know, socially, to places other than Jimmy's and the Pub, so as to post hundreds of thousands of billions of pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing flashy/skimpy outfits, so as to judge and be judged continuously. But from what I gather, sorority membership is voluntary. The appeal of such institutions is apparently quite strong--even my imaginary boyfriend Theodor Herzl was in a fraternity, an anti-Semitic one at that--but it's a force that can be easily resisted, if anywhere, at the U of C. Same goes for the pressure to be a skinny hipster--it's out there as a subculture if you want it, but Chicago remains friendlier to the chubby and be-sweatpants than any other top American liberal arts college.

Has this post seemed harsh or angry? If so, it's because I, like Rita, fear Chicago's impending "fratification," and want to add yet another bloggy voice of resistance to the trend.


Rita said...

At least eating disorders have that undercurrent of urgency and controversy, which is a step up from the Maroon's previous front page reporting--mediocre cell phone reception in Max P., for example. Shock! Horror! Cell phone reception! It appeared to be some kind of ongoing series, moreover.

Besides, I enjoyed the point about how weight is like grades. It made no sense at all, but I am tempted to call people's grades fat now.

Anonymous said...

when I was an undergrad we did cocaine for fun. And I bet they are just trying to explain away their "habits" with this "pressure to be thin" nonsense. You're in down jackets 70% of the academic year, no one cares.