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French Exchange Student Deborah Merran: Real Life Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Story

We all are familiar with Ann Brashares’ series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and have probably fantasized about living the lives of Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget. Twenty-year-old Deborah Merran lives this life with her two best friends who have been sending and sharing a t-shirt since 2013. Deborah is an exchange student from Paris, studying Economics here at UCLA with a dual degree of Applied Mathematics and Social Sciences back in France. We were able to talk to Deborah to learn more about her real life Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants story.

Her Campus: Briefly describe the story behind the t-shirt. 

Deborah Merran: My two best friends, Noemie and Ioanna, and I had all read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and watched the movies. It was summer 2013, and we knew that we were growing up, but we didn’t want to grow apart. We went shopping in Hotel de Ville, in the center of Paris, and we all loved the same shirt, that we called the Tiger. We thought about how this t-shirt could symbolize our friendship and we established a plan on who will get the t-shirt when. We also established 10 rules, including: Rule #1- you will wear the shirt, Rule #4- accessorize the t-shirt, Rule #10- to remember that this t-shirt symbolizes our friendship, take care of it, take care of you. The goal of it was not only to have fun, but also to give a sacred aspect to our unique friendship. Every time we sent the shirt, we also sent a letter and sometimes a present with it to make it special each time it arrived. 

HC: What has been your favorite memory of the shirt?

DM: It is so hard to answer this question. We have so many memories with it. I remember the first time I wore it: it was during summer camp, and I had a crush on this cute boy and we kissed. I also remember the last time I wore it, on July 2, 2017 when my brother and his wife were having a baby. I wrote in my letter, “I wore the t-shirt the day Elly was born, my first picture with her, the lightness of her small body, protected by the tiger of our true friendship.”

HC: Is it difficult to keep up the tradition?

DM: It is, I guess the shirt grew up with us. At first we were defining everything, like you keep it a week from this date to this one, but with the years we stopped being so strict. Keeping up with the tradition it is not hard, even if the periods are longer because sometimes we forget about it and don’t wear it. Keeping the shirt the way it was is impossible. The tiger is still important, but it’s not the same as before.

HC: How long do you think this will continue?

DM: Honestly I have no idea. I guess until the shirt get lost, as in the books. I think with the years, the shirt and our story is no more related to the books; it will certainly be another story, but for sure a happy ending. 

HC: What is your best piece of advice?

DM: I guess you should always be curious and adventurous, this is how you surprise yourself, how you bond with people, how you build your life. Don’t hesitate to go crazy, to laugh even when you’re not supposed to, to travel, because the world has so much to offer. It sounds so cheesy, but Carpe Diem.

Thank you Deborah for sharing your story with us and I’m excited to see where this story takes you next.

Gillian is a second year, biology major at UCLA from Woodside, California. She hopes to take a gap year after undergrad and then go to medical school and become a pediatric oncologist. She enjoys volunteering and is involved with many clubs on campus, such as Colleges Against Cancer and Bruins Fighting Pediatric Cancer in addition to Her Campus. Gillian also loves writing and DIY crafts and anytime she gets the chance, you can find her binge-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix.  
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