A new study has classified sororities as not healthy for women as they promote negative body images among its members.
The finding, which is a part of Ashley Marie Rolnik's senior honors thesis at Northwestern University in the US, has been published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.
In the study, it was found that undergraduate women who join a sorority are more likely to judge their own bodies from an outsider's perspective and display higher levels of bulimic attitudes and behaviors than those who do not take part in the sorority's recruitment process. Over time, those women who join the group also show higher levels of body shame.
Although these sisterhoods provide college women with opportunities for personal growth and enrichment, they have been criticized for their potential to lead their members to focus excessively and unhealthily on their appearance.
Rolnik's study is the first to test objectification theory (which links self-objectification to body dissatisfaction and shame, eating disorders and associated behaviors) outside the laboratory in a real-life context.
To reach the conclusion, experts surveyed 127 first-year college women aged 17-20 years at a US Midwestern University.
The authors conclude: "Interventions aimed at reducing sorority women's focus on physical appearance may hold promise as one of the many routes to addressing body image disturbance and eating disorders among sorority members. As sororities are very powerful at influencing the norms and ideals of their members, a move away from a focus on appearance and towards a set of norms that encourages healthy eating habits and more positive approaches to body image has real potential."