Almost everyone who was on TikTok in August of 2022 has seen at least one video of white, blonde, thin sorority girls that attend SEC schools dancing to a remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair” and Rihanna’s “Work”, where the whole sorority is in the background with their iPhone flashlights shining and 6 girls dancing in front, with one of them doing a tumbling trick at the end of the song.
These videos are usually made during “work week”, which is the week before primary recruitment when all of the active members prepare and practice for recruitment to begin the following week. Upon their conception, I'm sure that these videos were a fun way to let off some steam and have fun as a chapter while dancing to great music, as work week and recruitment are incredibly stressful and draining times. However, these videos have turned into a way for people who are not in these sororities to judge and rank these women, based on a 30-second dancing video that showcases absolutely nothing about that chapter other than their collective dancing and acrobatic abilities.
There is so much more to being in a sorority, and so much more to these women as individuals. However, if this last round of recruitment was any indication, posting this kind of Tik Tok proved devastatingly effective for these chapters, which is why they continue to post them. These videos are excellent for viewing the entire chapter all at once and feature the kind of women they want to join. Usually, these women are white, blonde, and thin, and they look extremely homogeneous. They are all absolutely beautiful, but their beauty is not the only type that deserves representation during recruitment. Being conscious about what girls are featured in recruitment material is imperative for chapters to increase diversity within their chapters and across the country.
Another tool that most chapters utilize before and during primary recruitment is Instagram. Instagram is the whole package! Stories for a real-time approach to connection, reels, beautiful, aesthetically pleasing grids (bring back 2012 Instagram, I’m begging), and now Threads? I can’t think of a better tool to showcase sisterhood. However, I’m afraid showcasing sisterhood is not at the front of many chapters' minds when they post to Instagram. Social media teams, please refrain from posting solo bikini photos and more revealing photos to the chapter's Instagram. As a Her Sorority Journey intern on the social media team, I have noticed this becoming more and more of a trend within the last year, and I promise, it does more harm than good for a chapter. While all of the women in these posts are stunning, these types of posts do nothing to showcase our sisterhoods. In fact, it shows the opposite. If some of your sisters took a group spring break trip and took photos, that’s different, but if we’re only posting white, thin blondes in bikinis, come recruitment, it will alienate PNM’s who do not look that way, as well as the active sisters in your chapter who are not being posted! It's a horrible feeling when a sister thinks that she may not be worthy of being posted on the chapter's Instagram because of her race, weight, or other immutable characteristics. Everyone deserves to be a part of the most public display of sisterhood because they are a member of that chapter.
I am always one to end on a positive note, so I am going to share some ways that I have seen chapters use their social media platforms to represent sisterhood that I have really enjoyed! I have seen many PNM-focused posts that include “Greek Speak” dictionaries, recruitment tips and tricks, guides to campus and the area that include favorite coffee shops and study spots, as well as outfit advice and lookbooks for recruitment. I have also seen tons of chapters post on accomplishments that the chapter and sisters have received, there have been huge internships or projects that got recognition, sisters vacationing together, some exciting day in the life story takeovers, and even chapter executive council and officer introductions. Summer is also a great time to give not only your current chapter members a refresh but introduce PNMs to your chapter values and philanthropies. Selecting members to each submit a short statement about their favorite ones has been an effective way that many members can be featured and can give some members a sense of inclusion and ownership with the chapter as well.
After recruitment, taking time to introduce the PNMs to Stories individually or in small groups give PNMs a chance to see themselves more in the chapter and can help them feel even more connected from the very beginning. Re-introducing recruitment counselors and Panhellenic executive members to social media after their disaffiliated period and unarchiving pictures that had to be removed for the time being. Remembering to post regularly all of the events and projects that sisters are working on and to continue to showcase sisterhood as a whole rather than individual sisters will keep more people engaged with the chapter.
In conclusion, social media has become a powerful tool for sororities during recruitment, but it comes with a responsibility to represent sisterhood in a more inclusive and meaningful way. While the viral TikTok videos featuring a specific type of sorority member may have initially served as a fun outlet during work week, they have inadvertently perpetuated stereotypes and exclusivity. It is crucial for our chapters to recognize the impact of their posts and make a conscious effort to showcase the diversity of sisterhood. Instead of solely focusing on appearance, chapters can leverage platforms like Instagram to showcase their values, accomplishments, and genuine camaraderie among members. By sharing PNM-focused content, introducing individual members, and emphasizing sisterhood as a whole, we can foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment. Social media can be a powerful tool for connection and empowerment, but it is up to each chapter to wield it responsibly and promote a positive and inclusive image of sisterhood.