"RushTok style is *trending* but not fully *trendy* once you look a little closer"
I don't think I'll ever get tired of analyses like this!
Am I the only one that feels kind of sick at the ton of fast fashion purchases Rush requires, though? Most the college age people in my life are insanely eco-conscious, so that's the most jarring thing about the whole phenomenon for me. The pure ciswhite girlhood part and pretending to stand out while fitting in thing are familiar, although nothing demonstrates it like the Panhellenic world.
I discovered rushtok last year when recovering from surgery (nothing better to do than scroll the tickytock all day) and was fascinated, appalled and completely bemused by the whole proces. Coming from Australia - we don't have anything even remotely like it to compare it to. A couple of things that struck me (aside from the homogeneity of the girls) was the financial cost of it all... not just actually bring *in* the sorority but all the special outfits for endless events, all the big/little gifting etc. None of the girls seemed to have to work - whereas most kids here will have a job as well as uni. Then I saw some dumpster diving tiktoks when colleges shut down, and the waste. So much waste.
Today in “I feel old because...” -- I had to Google OOTD 😂
I read the Panhellenic Pointer that Maureen mentioned in her last answer. In the guide, they make a point of saying its mandatory to wear white on bid day. This may be a deep pull but its interesting on the day you're matched, you wear white as you traditionally do on your wedding day, a tradition that, I think, started in denoting a bride's purity. I feel like there must be a correlation there.
I find this all incredibly fascinating as someone who was in a sorority at a small private engineering college in Indiana back in the early aughts. Greek life dominated our social lives because over 50% of students are in sororities or fraternities. I'm just glad that I didn't go through recruitment during the eras of Instagram or TikTok - even at a small school, I can't imagine the pressure to further perform myself beyond what was already expected IRL. But recruitment now really does presage how women end up going through life - that balancing act between not-enough and too-much, virgin and whore, aggressive and being heard. There's a lot that's empowering in Greek life, but there's certainly a lot of bad with the good.
This is a great interview...the phenomenon of RushTok is fascinating to me. I never rushed (too fat, too poor), but a friend in a sorority told me they had a business suit night for their PNM specifically so they could look at the labels when they took the women’s jackets to hang them up. This was in the late 80s.
I remain deeply, deeply glad that when I went through recruitment, we weren't allowed to even *have* our cell phones with us. And that I attended a VERY not Southern school.
I wore a white dress with big pink flowers for preference day.
Are there behind-the-scenes RushTok videos, or maybe after they get bids (or don't) where they show the sheer effort involved in putting these together? Like - when do they have time to repaint their nails, or work out (because they are almost exclusively thin)? Does the rest of their room look like a hurricane swept through? How much time do they take putting on their makeup? I'm just struck by how time-consuming it all is, on top of the events they're required to be at.
I was at UGA in the early aughts but as a grad student mostly. I come from a women's college undergraduate and the whole Greek life thing was...quite something. The conformity of it seemed so stifiling. And so many of those young women seemed so lost in all those ruffles
As a former Greek drop out from a big southern school, these deep dives are such a guilty pleasure for me. I cannot get enough of them. Thank you for feeding my obsession!
I love this and all the Rushtok deep dives. As someone who was in a sorority at an SEC school in the early aughts, it is WILD for me to see the extreme difference between my analog experiences and their very online experiences while still recognizing the through lines that tie both of our eras together. These pieces also have helped me reckon with all of the innate problems of Greek Life -- problems I could sense at the time but didn't have the nuance or historical/cultural awareness to fully grasp yet.
Also, I chuckled at your use of "uniform" because we said the same thing when I was an active, but more about our everyday casual outfits. Black yoga pants (they hadn't yet morphed into leggings and were a touch baggier), slim fitting tees from some Greek event, New Balances and a North Face fleece.
I'd suggest looking at Les Incroyables and Les Merveilleuses from the late 18th century, the Directory era. After the Reign of Terror, it was about the surviving aristocrats staking out their turf. As usual, the personal was political. The style of the era was both a uniform and a way of competing and standing out. It was also a class marker. The clothing was expensive, but it wasn't about the cloth of gold. That kind of thing was for kings and queens. A lot of the competition was on the details within a highly structured dress code. If you've read any Regency novels, you can see how this worked in a very similar England in the early 19th century.
Straight men seem to have opted out of sartorial competition, but it is still a big thing for women. Rushtok seems to be part of a very traditional competition. There are all sorts of rules but one is still expected to compete as an individual on style. It's all about social status markers. It's just one of the places where the competition is highly visible as opposed to the quiet assassinations in the executive suite.
Super interesting look at all the layers! Thanks!
WRT #rushtok - Napoleonic edition: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C0AIg0_tOlb/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
This really drove home why I was so sure I did not want to join the Greek system when I was in college and, like so many things now, the blatant consumption and “for social media” focus of everything just makes me feel oogie. I love looking at a crafted outfit as much as anyone, but the amount of consumption to fit into “being me yet not me” box that is also sexist and racist and classist is just all out 🤢🤢🤢 to me.
Loving all the rushtok analysis, I find it fascinating.