Pumpkin Spice & Stereotypes
by Susan Bonifield, Nu Beta (U of Mississippi), International Vice President
About this time every year, I am reminded I must be the only person on the planet who doesn’t like pumpkin spice. While my friends and colleagues are rejoicing in the return of all things pumpkin spice, I am happily avoiding long lines and extra calories! My dislike for the popular fall treat came full circle last week when an exasperated coworker loudly complained about how crowded it was at our campus coffee shop because “all those sorority girls had to be first in line to get their pumpkin spice lattes.” As you might imagine, I couldn’t just let that go! I took that opportunity to quickly share with that colleague how sorority women are so much more than what is seen in the typical, comedic stereotypes.
This conversation with my colleague did cause me to think more about what sorority women could do to counteract those beliefs. In a blog post from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Elizabeth Bolton discusses how stereotypes are created and why they can be dangerous, especially for women. She also provides some great advice on how to counteract them. In her experience, the best way to alter a stereotype is to become aware of our own biases and then take steps to correct them. We can each commit to personally serving as positive representatives for the sorority experience on our campuses, in our communities, in the workplace and among our families. As sorority women, we can shine a light on all the positive aspects of our membership and demonstrate every day by our words and our actions how the sorority experience has helped to shape us into a powerful force for positive change.
So for those of you who have eagerly waited for this fall treat to return, I say “Enjoy! You’ve earned it!” Your patience has paid off, and now you can get your pumpkin spice fix in coffee, ice cream, cookies, cereal, skin care products and even protein powder for those athletes among us. Our furry friends can even get in on the pumpkin spice action through a wide variety of flavored treats. So as you fill your shopping carts with your favorite fall indulgence, let each of those items remind us that, regardless of the stereotypes we all hear, no single thing can define what it means to be a sorority woman. We should take every opportunity to dispel any negative stereotypes by showing the world about us that we are values-driven, service-oriented, academically-minded, campus and community leaders. We are women who can and will change the world, with a pumpkin spice latte in hand.