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. Challenging Controlling Images

. Challenging Controlling Images

Appearance Enforcement within Black Sororities

(p.212) 11. Challenging Controlling Images
Black Greek-Letter Organizations 2.0
Marcia D. Hernandez
University Press of Mississippi

As members of the sorority, women are always required to represent their organization in the best possible way, whether in behavior or in the manner of dressing. Sorority sisters adhere to a strict code of conduct and demand high standards of fellow members to maintain the organization’s image or front, allowing them to actively recruit and promote notably exceptional women. This process is known as “appearance enforcement.” This chapter examines how appearance enforcement enables members of black sororities to challenge the negative images of black womanhood that persist in popular culture. However, it shows that many of the sorority women, in resisting the stereotypes that have historically stigmatized African American women, resort to harsh class distinctions and entrenched “us versus them” worldviews. The chapter looks at a series of magnified moments that emphasize how appearance enforcement operates as part of the socialization process for members.

Keywords:   appearance enforcement, sororities, sorority women, stereotypes, African American women, class distinctions, socialization

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