Sororities are social organizations on college campuses categorized by selective membership and exclusive social events for active members. This research focuses on how sorority members' ideas about beauty relate to their appearance management behaviors in order to gauge how sorority culture contributes to their understanding of physical beauty. Ethnographic
data collection took place at a university in the southeastern United States. I conducted 17 semi- structured interviews with members of different sororities and participant observation at sorority
recruitment events. There's a common thread that connects every interview: beauty and appearance carry importance. Sorority culture encourages women to put "effort" into their physical appearance to represent themselves and their chapters to their perceived beauty standard. There is clear connection between ideas about health, beauty, and aesthetics in this community. The positive association between health and beauty contributes to personal and societal beauty ideals that are felt by most sorority members. I argue that moralization occurs– where women consider physical health and beauty as synonymous, discouraging and excluding those who do not fit the sorority's beauty standard, who are thus perceived as "unhealthy" as well as unattractive. These ideals influence body modification behavior. By understanding how the social environment contributes to the perceptions of beauty and ideal bodies, this Thesis contributes to a greater awareness of the motivations of sorority members to engage in beauty enhancement.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
McLinden, Delaney C., "Beauty in Sorority Life: An Anthropological Analysis of Beauty Ideals and Body Modification" (2023). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1383.