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Young Ladies of the SEC, Wear Whatever You Want

On September 3rd, HuffPost contributor Rebecca Walden attended the Alabama-USC matchup in AT&T Stadium. And she was “bewildered” by what she saw. Not by the incredibly talented players, cheerleaders, band members, or countless staff members of both UA and USC that pulled off an amazing kickoff to the football season, but by the young women that had come to support their schools, and what they were wearing. Or what they weren’t wearing.

Ms. Walden, though I’m sure your intentions were only good and you had our best interests at heart, your incredibly sexist and demeaning assumptions about what we choose to wear only proves that your old world understanding of the game day rituals here in the SEC is a bit skewed. But in order to be a bit less broad, I’m going to point out exactly where you are wrong in your article. (The original article has been taken down, but you can read a recap from al.com here.)

Dear young ladies of the SEC, can you do us all a solid and start covering it up?

My first issue is referring to an overarching “all.” Who is this “all” you are referring to? The SEC head coaches? The starting quarterbacks? Are they thinking about our exposed shoulders and ankles as they attempt to win us yet another National Championship? Are the sideline reporters and NFL scouts worried about the girl at the end of the row showing her midriff? Are parents and Alabama hopefuls more concerned about confident young women than what’s happening on the field? If so, maybe we could set them up with blinders so they don’t have to see our shameful skin-baring dresses. I won’t even go into what “it” is that we’re supposed to be covering up.

What we didn’t want, and what we never did, was to show up for a college football game looking like we belonged in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

The women who walk in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show are stunning. To drag them in the dirt as the opposite of what “young ladies” should look like is hardly commendable. Last I checked, I haven’t seen any of my classmates walking around in brassieres and lacy panties (though it’s certainly hot enough to – last week’s home game versus Western Kentucky clocked in at over 100 degrees inside Bryant Denny.) I say amen to the girl who wants to dress for the weather, not for your outdated standards.

More than once at that last ballgame, I wished I could have wrapped my elephant scarf around one of you, teetering around on stilettos with your bra straps exposed and operating under the misguided notion that you looked irresistible.

Women wear bras?? Alert the presses!! I wasn’t aware that you were such a strong advocate of the Free The Nipple movement, but I think the bralettes that many girls wear to beat the heat look just adorable. The little lace halters make girls feel carefree and beautiful, and eliminate that self-conscious feeling about whether their bra straps are showing. Which is a ridiculous reason to feel self-conscious at all. It’s 2016. The secret’s out. We wear bras.

I wonder if your mother knew what you were wearing.

She did. Many of our mothers attend the games along with us. As for my mother, she liked my gameday selfie on Instagram. She taught me to be tasteful and classy, but I think she’d prefer me to wear a sleeveless dress rather than go to the hospital for heat stroke. But that’s just my mom.

I wanted to tell you that if you’re doing this for a boy, he’s not the one for you.

Last week, I attended the Western Kentucky game with my two close girl friends. We dressed up, did our hair and makeup, and had a blast. Girls never dress for boys. We dress for ourselves, and so that drunk girl in the bathroom can ooze compliments about our Tobi dress that we got on sale. Sorority sisters dress for each other so they can take stunningly coordinated group pictures. It’s never for a boy.

Most of all, I hoped you would soon wake up to embrace the ethos shared by higher learning institutions everywhere – class.

As much as you may think it is, class is not defined by the clothes you wear. It’s the choices you make, the people you surround yourself with and the way you hold yourself in the face of adversity. Making it about a short dress or an exposed bra strap is ultimately classless on your part. But what do I know? I’m devoid of class because I like wearing clothing that I think I look good in.

The Greek letters sticker on your shirt declaring the sorority to which you belong and your loyalty to your team? All rendered classless by those ill covered curves you’ve made sure are on full display.

First of all, Greek sorority girls are under such scrutiny already. Any adorable outfits they decide to post on social media donning their letters are run under a microscope by their peers and chapter advisers. The standards board comes down hard on any girl wearing anything remotely inappropriate, as it makes all the girls look bad. The last thing these girls need is yet another entitled mother figure telling them what they can and can’t wear.

And these “curves” you’re referring to? Do you mean body parts?? I’m sorry that I’ve cried countless tears over how my bust makes it impossible to look business professional in any blouse, or that my thighs are glued together when I sit down, but I’m glad you’re there to remind me that no matter what I try or how many pairs of spanx I squeeze my butt into, it won’t be conservative enough to please everyone. I’ve made my peace with that. Have you?

Families attend these games. Little eyes are watching you.

When I was around elementary school age, all I wanted was to be pretty. I looked at young college girls with stars in my eyes. Now I know I’m not the prettiest bloom on the rosebush, but I’m comfortable in my own skin. When I get all gussied up to cheer on the Tide, I feel confident and beautiful. I know I would be doing my former self proud with the way I hold my head high and because of that, I do hope that other little girls see me. I hope they see that I’m having the time of my life with the people that I love and they strive to be as confident and happy with themselves as I am today.

Ms. Walden, when I started reading your article, I was angry. I was enraged that an alumna of the Tide could look down so harshly on girls who just love Alabama football and want to feel good about themselves. Women are put through enough in relation to what they wear today. But your cries to “cover it up” fall on deaf ears. The women of the SEC are nothing if not resilient and strong. We stand together and are fiercely loyal to our teams. It doesn’t matter what we wear to the games, what matters is that we rally behind our fellow classmates and continue to live without the prejudice that you have shown in your words. I hope someday you realize that.


*All photos were supplied with permission by HerCampus Alabama chapter members or personal aquaintances of the author

Sarah is from Indianapolis, Indiana and is currently studying Telecommunications and Film at the University of Alabama. Along with her broadcasting major, she is also working towards a creative writing minor. She enjoys writing to her friends back home, caring for her hamster named Pasta, dancing around to Ellie Goulding and cultivating her cacti garden! In her spare time, Sarah can be found in the library with her head in a book or on the quad petting dogs.
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