After the latest leaked email from the University of Southern California wish I had rushed. If only for the privilege of having a firsthand experience as to what it would have been like to turn the clock of feminism so far back to find a younger generation whose only value to their house is their ability to apply blush correctly. While the USC email pales in comparison to its predecessor, from my very own alma mater the University of Maryland, it's still chock full of female aggression and misogyny.
At the University of Southern California, the "Personal Development and PACE Chair" (I am assuming PACE stands for "Pious Asshat Cosmetics Enforcer" but it's just a guess, I wasn't in a sorority) schooled her underlings via email as to the mandatory, exhaustive and painstakingly detailed way in which they must look. With gems like:
I cannot stress how important Spanx are to make you look your best. Even if you are very thin, Spanx will give you a better "line" when you wear clothes (no awkward bumps!)
Bad eyebrows will make you look less beautiful than you actually are!
Note: If you have straight hair and you want to wear it curly, don't.
Or my personal favorite:
If you are not wearing the required makeup, I will stop you and apply it myself. I don't care if you're late for class. I don't care if you're a sophomore or a super senior. I will stop you.
To be given the privilege to be told in the most condescending and patronizing way that no matter how thin or pretty I am, I am worthless without a pair of Spanx would have been so much easier than having to rely on my dumb old girlie brain for self-worth. Had I known that Alpha Chi Omega was out there disseminating valuable information that the key to life was not happiness or friendship, but gelled nails and pin-straight hair, my college years would have been much more pleasant.
Not to mention all those times I was late for class because a psych lab ran long, or my French lit professor and I got into a lengthy debate about Roland Barthes. Turns out, all I needed to do was wear the wrong eyeshadow since she, the random authority of all things beauty, promised that I could be late for class since a makeup lesson was prized over education.
Thinking about it now... to be valued solely for my looks and how neat my eyebrows were would have been so much more relaxing than being valued for who I was. Imagine not needing to have worried about my character, loyalty, honesty, personality or intellect? Whew! What a relief that would have been, since getting a Ph.D. was exhausting. If someone would have just told me, "how important Spanx are" or that my "hair needs to be one normal color" I wouldn't be struggling to pay off these pesky student loans.
Sounds awful, but not as bad as the emails now known as the worst in the history of sorority life. I'm talking about my imagined bestie, Rebecca Martinson, from the University of Maryland's Delta Gamma sorority. She was kind enough to let her fellow sorority sisters know that they were "so f***ing awkward" and "so f***ing boring" at social events with fraternity Sigma Nu. Then asked if they were "f***ing retarded" before offering to "f***ing c*** punt" anyone who showed Greek camaraderie by cheering on another team (I'm guessing sororities have joined the trend of getting unnecessarily serious about something as childish as kickball. A sport made popular by first graders at recess everywhere).
However, I probably would not have wanted to be judged so harshly by women who were supposed to have been my "sisters." Men, rivals, bosses and parents judge us harshly enough. As women, the unrealistic thin ideal we live with every day, a country that exalts female celebrities for their appearance then berates them if they don't lose the baby weight, and the stress we put on ourselves regularly is probably more than enough for anyone. You don't think a young college-aged girl who is still working out her identity and deciding upon the woman she would like to become is secure enough to handle all of that extra pressure, do you? I sure wasn't. Maybe I was better off not being in a sorority, or maybe it's just sour grapes since I don't fit that mold and would have probably been rejected on nail polish color alone.
Although it does give me some perverse pleasure to know that Sara Blakely, the woman who invented Spanx, would not have gotten in to Alpha Chi Omega either. She wears green nail polish and has had ombre hair. Come to think of it, neither would Katy Perry, or Sophia Vergara, or Nicki Minaj, or Drew Barrymore, or Rachel McAdams, or...
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