There are plenty of valid things to critique about Greek life, but what sorority women wear during recruitment—that’s a fairly innocuous topic. So why did various mainstream media outlets describe a leaked email detailing wardrobe guidelines from the University of Southern California’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority chapter as "batshit," "crazy," and "authoritarian"? While sorority life may evoke images of the Stepford Wives, that perception is often far from the realities of sisterhood.
The guidelines outlined by Alpha Chi Omega aren’t particularly scandalous—these emails, which are typical of virtually every sorority during recruitment, are little more than banal outlines of what outfits and nail polish prospects should wear during recruitment. I should know; after all, I, too, sent out an almost-identical email about beauty regimens to my sorority at USC, where I was vice president of recruitment. And in my daily life, I admit that I rarely appear "put together"—everyone primps a little for recruitment, just like you would for a job interview or a first date.
It’s worth mentioning that at USC, and at most campuses that have a large Greek systems, there’s a ruthless mechanism known as a "tier system." This system ranks individual houses based on how attractive and popular they are—think Mean Girls and its cafeteria map, writ large. Neither my house nor Alpha Chi Omega falls into the top-ranking tier, so I don’t have any idea as to what life is actually like in those houses; upon going through recruitment, I did, however, get a glimpse of the facade they presented to the world. As a freshman visiting these "top houses" during the formal recruitment process, I felt like I was walking into a CW show. The houses were gorgeous, the sisters were stunning and stick-thin, and their smiles shined brighter than that of Miss America.