In college, I was a proud member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Ole Miss. My sorority years hold some of my most precious memories.
We were a group of strong, independent and bright young women – eager to make positive impacts on campus, while also having a little (or in my case – a little too much) fun along the way. Our bond ran deep; and to this day, we share a connection, continuing to support each other through all of life’s ups and downs – marriage, divorce, death, birth, cancer, suicide – the list goes on.
And sadly, just like with any group, sorority women carry numerous stereotypes and stigmas: self-centered, closed minded, air heads, sluts, the list goes on.
But the truth is, as a collective, we were none of those things. Yes, we were undoubtedly born with privilege. We were, after all, pursuing a high level of education with extra money to be a part of Greek life.
Probably the most common stereotype/myth is that sorority houses are breeding grounds for eating disorders. As someone who suffered an eating disorder while in a sorority I can call complete bullshit on that.
In fact, it was quite the opposite for me – and many others. All bodies were embraced and loved within the walls of KKG at Ole Miss. We had all shapes and sizes. My eating disorder was not caused or perpetuated by my sorority sisters. Years after coming out of the proverbial eating disorder closet, I received a message from one of my dearest sisters (who nicked named me after my middle name, Mims):
Her message years ago was the catalyst for my passion to not only connect with Panhellenic groups, but as many college groups as I could. Students need to not only understand eating disorders and the warning signs, but where help and support is on campus.
I am proud to connect with Panhellenic communities across the country. And I’m really honored to work with ALL college groups – Health/Wellness, Active Minds, Body Positive, LGBTQ+️ – bringing everyone together to promote eating disorders awareness, health at every damn size and smash the mental health stigma, but this has not come without its own set of challenges.
I see it time and time again, students in one group shutting out another because they look different or are because they are part of a sorority. Then I watch, like a proud mom, as the students work together on SMASH day to promote positive body image and eating disorders awareness.
I love seeing a sorority woman work a table with someone they might never interact with. Their kindness helping to lower the other’s persons guard and shatter the sorority stereotype. I watch in awe as blue haired students SMASH scales with not so blue haired students.
This is why I love this generation. They are not only ready to embrace others’ difference, but work together to help promote a cause that impacts them all.
At UNC Monday we had over 300 people attend our evening SmashTALK, many were sorority women. They sat engaged as they listened to the six of us on stage…four cis-gender women and two non-binary folks. Everyone sharing their story or expertise to educate the next generation of world changers. If these women were close minded they wouldn’t sit for nearly two hours in awe. They wouldn’t ask questions, listening to the lived experiences of those on stage. They wouldn’t show up.
I am well aware I, myself, live a privileged life as a cis-gendered thin and able bodied white woman. But do not mistake my privilege (or anyone else’s) for ignorance and simple mindedness.
Privilege or not, I have dedicated my life to educating ALL people and creating a platform for every BODY to tell their story. I proudly (and eagerly) hand over the SmashTALK stage and microphone to any size, shape, color, gender and every person in between. And student groups across the country have helped me to do just that.
Not only do we all deserve the right to tell our story, but the world needs to hear our stories. And as someone who has the ability and platform to help facilitate this, it is my duty and ultimate honor to open my stage to every BODY.
Love is love. People are people. We are not to judge others based on anything – color, sexual orientation, privilege or anything in between. Never assume privilege equals an easy life and do not think blue hair equals weird.
My students constantly amaze me and challenge my own thinking in how we can work together and embrace differences. Because at the end of the day and at the end of this life, it isn’t about what group we belonged to or if we wore Greek letters on our shirt, it is about how we treated every BODY around us.
Let my beloved UNC students be an example for us all – teaching us to not just accept, but embrace every BODY.