If you ask anyone on campus if Miami University has a certain “image” many students would answer yes. Anyone who would disagree would have to just take a look around and notice the plethora of Lululemon, Vineyard Vines, Patagonia, and various other brand names that make Miami… well… Miami. Sometimes I see all three on one person plus that Louis Vuitton tote bag, and I’m thinking to myself, “I bet half of your closet is the amount of my semester’s tuition.”

I’m not here to write about the brand names people wear, but to make a point about the “Miami Mold.” There is a specific look on campus that completes this mold, especially when it comes to women. Being a part of a sorority is what a majority of Miami women on campus choose to do. While being a typical “Miami girl” and being in a sorority  can come with a sense of pride and belonging, it can also come with serious consequences.

If you ask any sorority girl what her rush experience was like, many of the girls make exasperated sighs or roll their eyes. Rushing a sorority puts enormous pressure on women because they know each sorority looks for a certain image or quality in every person they interview. Certain sororities have a type of woman they look for, and the idea of this can be very intimidating.

Outside of Miami negative body image and eating disorders are developed mostly through the media. Media portrays a specific body type through ads that objectify and stereotype women. According to dosomething.org 90 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies, and 58 percent of college women feel pressured to be a certain weight. Only 5% of women naturally possess the body portrayed by American media. Sororities at Miami can work like the media to create an image for themselves with women who have similar body types. Negative body image is derived from the pressure of sorority members to feel accepted or to feel like they belong.

What I have noticed during my time here at Miami is women will eat very little portions of food, or just salads and minimal carbs. Then they will go do these rigorous, cardio filled workouts, the goal being to develop a very slim, lean body. In the past, I have been a part of crossfit gyms and hot yoga clubs, and what I have learned from trainers is you need balanced portions of different types of food during your day to fuel up for the next workout. News flash: that means you can have carbs and still be fit.  Workouts should be about developing your whole body and being healthy no matter your weight or body type.

This issue first grabbed my attention when I had a conversation with a girl who was a part of a sorority. She talked about how her experience in a sorority has not been what she had expected it to be. She told me how she joined a sorority because of what it stands for, and to have a group of sisters she can rely on to build her into the woman she wants to be.

Sadly enough, this is not what her experience has been like. Now this was a beautiful, blonde girl and I questioned why she was having serious doubts about joining. She explained that Greek life is a huge party scene and that girls judge each other and it feels like a competition.  She said she feels that there is an enormous pressure on her to fit this mold that her sorority puts on her, and personally, I just don’t think that is fair.

Later that day I found her in the bathroom making herself throw up, and it was not from the effects of alcohol. I feel like her confession of her experience in Greek life was almost a cry for help. Sororities should empower women and support all body shapes and sizes.

If being a part of a sorority is about shaping the women for tomorrow, that should include all women. Positive body image is what should be spread on campus, not weight limits and extreme dieting.

Time and time again I hear girls saying how they have too many stomach rolls, or their thighs are too big or this or that makes them look too fat. Don’t get me wrong I have said or thought negative things about my body too, but in all honesty, I’m done hearing women pick themselves apart. Unfortunately that is what women have been conditioned to do. We pick our bodies apart with our negative words until we are nothing. Women need to stop tearing their bodies down and start rebuilding their spirits.

Being healthy and positive body image need to be more encouraged on campus and in our sororities.  I want to speak for the women who feel that this “Miami Mold” is too much pressure and is, in fact, just plain stupid. Let’s empower the women of Miami and teach women the power of positive body image. Beauty comes from the inside and in fact, every woman on this campus is beautiful in her own unique way.

“I am Miami, and I am beautiful.”