Nashville, TN — While being part of a sorority might seem filled with those glittery Instagram posts and events, the recruitment process might leave a dent on a young woman’s body image.
As spring rush for sororities starts this month, it is important to think about how social media depicts the process and the feelings of insecurity young women may be experiencing.
During the summer of 2021, the University of Alabama’s sorority recruitment process became more than a hashtag as it was referenced in pop culture. The following summer was no different — the sorority rush TikToks continued to trend and there was even news about a documentary.
TikTok and other social media platforms have been criticized for their content which is linked to eating disorder behavior.
College is a transitional time and the pandemic was associated with an increase in eating disorders. According to Increasing Access for the Treatment of Eating Disorders Among College Students by Dr. Jess P. Shatkin, “ Eating disorders typically emerge in adolescence, with one large study of college students demonstrating a prevalence of 13.5% among women and 3.6% among men.” The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports that “35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.”
During sorority recruitment, young women may feel anxious about how they look as well as how they are perceived by others.
In “A Prospective Study of Disordered Eating among Sorority and Nonsorority Women,” by Dr. Kelly C. Allison and Dr. Crystal L. Park, the study examined young women before the recruitment process in their second semester of college as well as for the two years after.
In this study, both women who were joining sororities and women who were not joining sororities had “similar levels of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.” Yet, over the three years the researchers surveyed the young women, nonsorority women decreased their concentration on their weight whereas sorority women continued their concentration on weight.