Hollywood, Marketing, Sex and You

We live in a pornographic world, especially in Hollywood.

Producers and writers have an unspoken contest to see who can push the envelope the most without “going too far.”  To make things more interesting “too far” is a line that keeps moving, so no one is even sure what is socially acceptable anymore.

A sitcom scene of a couple waking up the morning after to say, “What’s your name again?” now cues the canned laughter soundtrack. Hollywood has written countless scripts with the message: It is downright hilarious to have sex with someone whose name you don’t even know. Casual sex is laughed off and wearing next to nothing is, “adorable” Yet right now everyone is up in arms because undefined lines have been crossed.

To be honest, I’m just confused.

Marion Joiner said it best:

Sex is not just a physical activity; it is sacred. And I’m sick of hearing media and the world speak two vastly different ethics. On one hand, the media endorses pornography, laughs at adultery, and mocks sexual purity. Then, on the other hand, this same media cries out at the injustice done to victims. I find this hypocrisy a little much. You can’t claim it is no big deal in one arena and then condemn it in the other. -sex is sacred

Here’s the thing. I am 100% behind the “me too” movement. I have no doubt there has been unwanted abuse endured by many frightened and intimidated women inflicted by Hollywood stars. But I also think we all need to realize this obnoxious hypocrisy.

How can 50 shades of grey make millions of dollars, yet we cry foul when the script plays out in people’s actual lives? -Katie Bulmer

I was a marketing major and have worked in media and advertising for 15 years. I know first hand the media is fueled by our buying power. While I would love to wave my finger at Hollywood, my marketing experience has taught me, it is not the big city execs that decide what we see, it’s the consumers. Every time a sex-saturated movie, magazine, or song is purchased we are shouting to the media, “We love it! Keep it up!” The confusing part is, we also tell the media, “But don’t go too far…we don’t know where the line is, we only know when it is crossed.” Could you imagine working in an environment where you are asked to produce sex-saturated “hilarious” shows yet if you act on any of it we will blast you all over the news?

I think Hollywood is confused too.

I have never met you but I would guess you want integrity to define your life. I, also know from our outcry everytime a Hollywood star falls from a pedestal, we expect our role models to be characterized by integrity as well.

The good news is, we have a voice in this matter! I believe consumers can do more than sit idly by as war wages on our young women. It’s time to stand up for what we want to see in Hollywood. We VOTE with our dollars. We can say, “no” to the sitcoms and movies laughing off casual sex. We can say, “no” to the music downloads singing about women as a commodity. We can say, “yes” to media that honors women, portrays healthy families and doesn’t cheapen the sacred gift that is sex.

I once met this really cute guy who totally transformed the way I thought on this subject (spoiler alert I married him). Integrity has always been a characteristic he wanted to define his life. Before we were even dating he made a decision to fill his mind with as little fake images as possible. The way he put it, “I want less to compare my wife to one day.” (I know right!!! He’s taken sorry ladies).

This is totally counter-cultural so let me say this a different way: Starting in high school, Bryan’s goal became to see his future bride as the only woman in the world versus comparing her to countless photoshopped images of unrealistic barbie dolls. As his wife, all I can say is I am so thankful.

Don’t we all want this? Don’t we all want to be seen by our mate as “the only woman in the world?” We have a say in this matter! I vote it’s time to raise the bar and consider what we pour into our brain. We decide what influences us and we have more power than we realize as to what influences Hollywood and our entire media infrastructure.

Let’s define what is entertaining. Let’s consider the living and breathing humans who are acting out what entertains us. I believe there are men and women in Hollywood trying to lead a career of dignity and honor in a pornographic world. We can help by deciding what we consume with our eyes.

Let’s not just flirt with the lines of ‘too far’  Let’s run the other direction toward honor and respect. Katie Bulmer 

What if I never get married?

Leading college small groups for about 10 years,  I hear this question a lot.  “What if I never get married?”
First of all, I get it. When I was 20 I was totally terrified to end up middle aged with my only companions as jelly donuts and 17 cats.

what-if-i-never-get-married

Ashlyn Cathy Photo 

I’m in my 30’s now, married with kiddos (no cats) and a little life under my belt.  Now I see this question much differently.  

I look across our lattes as we sit together at the coffee shop listening to the NINETEEN year old worried she won’t find a husband.  With genuine love totally remembering feeling that way I look at you now and honestly want to say, “You are an infant!!!  What in the actual heck are you worried about!”

Good news from my side of the fence:
Do you know how many of my friends (also my age) from college, sorority sisters, or anyone I even knew that did NOT get married?
Two
As in 1 more than 1.  As in only 2.

I don’t know how to prove what kind of odds that is other than comparing how many people I currently know on facebook.  Assuming we know about the same amount of people that gives you a  .0016 chance that you won’t get married.

The odds are in your favor.

While I only have 2 friends that never married I know tons of people who are fighting custody battles with their kids because they are divorced.  Or married and miserable.

Permission to speak freely here?

 While there are few guarantees in the marriage and dating world I do have one guarantee for you.  
100 out of 100 single people would rather hear on their wedding day,
“Here is all of me for all of you” vs “I am an sex expert.”

You have the option to look differently than the world.  Protecting your heart.  Protecting your body.  Working on becoming the best future wife you can be with as little baggage to carry into the marriage as possible.
Worry less about getting married and more about becoming a whole complete and loved by Jesus YOU.

Wouldn’t you want your future husband to be doing the same thing?

The Huffington post said it this way:

it’s a question of supply and demand. “Easy” women are easy to get. The supply exceeds the demand. Now, it’s the sexually modest woman that stands apart in the dating world as a rare and desirable thing.
(the whole article is great) 

From the Good Man project, author Dave Booda says it this way:

Ladies, if you really want men to step up and become the real men you talk about, you must demand it. I’m not saying ask for it, I’m not saying hope for it, I’m saying demand it.  What does that mean? It means you don’t settle for anything less. It means if you aren’t satisfied, you walk away. Men will rise up and meet your challenge, I promise, it’s what we do best. We love challenges. We love it when women make us step up and work.

Men are hard wired to work, we just have to expect no less of them!

There are some amazing men out there ladies.  But the good guys are not looking for a girl dancing on top of the bar.
The most profound question I have heard for singles to take heart is this: “Are you who you are looking for, is looking for?” -Andy Stanley

Guarding your heart, protecting your body and seeking your heavenly father FIRST will prepare you to be a wife of nobel character.

Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God.1 Peter 3:4

I think the real question is not “Will I get married?” but  “Is my God big enough to take care of this?”

He is a good father.  He sees you begging and pleading for what you think will fulfill your heart.  But he loves you too much to let you believe the lie that another human can fill the void that only He can fill.  He wants to pour into your broken places.  Make you whole and complete.  He wants you to become the person you are looking for is looking for not just for them, but for yourself as well.  Enjoy your single time. Make the most of it.  And don’t worry.  He’s got this.

20 things I wish I could tell the 20 year old me

Oh if I could sit down with the 20 year old me.  With such love and tenderness I see her now so much more clearly.  Terrified to be bold and wanting so desperately to belong.  She was confident but unsure, pretty but insecure, bold but petrified to be different.
Big dreams paralyzed by insecurity and long eyelashes I desperately wish I could somehow get back.

20 things I would say to my 20 year old self

Dear 20 something me,

Let me buy you a coffee, snuggle into a corner booth at the coffee shop, look into your true self and tell you what I have learned the hard way. I know you think you know better.  I know you think you are the only person who has ever had your struggles but, in truth, everyone my age wishes they knew then what they know now.  You don’t have to make the same mistakes. You just have to listen to those who have gone before you.  So sip up on that coffee, and let’s dive in…

  1. Stop trying so hard! Sheesh, I am exhausted remembering how hard you worked to make everyone love you.  It’s an impossible task!   The people that do love you know the real you.  And the real you isn’t so bad. 
  2. The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and be nothing.  But dear young friend….BE SOMETHING.
  3.  Being kind will get you a lot further in life than being right.
  4. Wear Sunscreen for the love!
  5. You can’t change others, you can only change yourself.
  6. When you have a job, a family, a mortgage and volunteer organizations you will find it adorable you ever said you were busy. Believe it or not you have your most free time NOW. Use it for something that will last longer than the end of the greatest Netflix series.
  7. If you can’t find Jesus in the sanctuary look for him in the lives of the broken. It will change your life and you will meet Jesus there, guaranteed.
  8. There are so many little things that worry you.  Think BIG picture as much as possible. Will what is stressing you even matter 5 years from now? Enjoy the current moment and don’t let worry steal it away.
  9. Fredrick Buechner  said, “The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Start diving into your passion now! Don’t wait for the heavens to part for God to reveal “YOUR CALLING” Many of us just need to stop waiting and start looking where God is already at work and join in.
  10. John D. Rockefeller said, “I Never Would Have Been Able To Tithe The First Million Dollars I Ever Made If I Had Not Tithed My First Salary, Which Was $1.50 Per Week.” Never think you have too little to contribute to the kingdom.
  11. Worry less about finding the right guy and focus more on becoming the right girl.  
  12. With your time and your money, invest in stuff that LASTS. Again think long term…do you see a theme here?
  13. Rollercoasters that used to give you thrills winding upside down with your hands up the whole way will now make you want to lose your lunch by simply looking at them.  So have fun on them now is all I’m saying.
  14. One of the biggest factors determining your future is who you hang out with.  Make sure you are surrounding yourself with the right people. Friends by definition should inspire you, challenge you, and call you to be the best version of yourself.
  15. “Everyone else is doing it” is the best reason I have ever heard NOT to do something.  The majority of americans are in debt, overweight, overstressed, on too many medications, and NOT living happily every after. Do you really want to be like everyone else? Moreover, define your “everyone” who is your friend group?  If your “everyone” is making decisions you said you would never do before you met them…you may want to re-think who is in your tribe.
  16. You won’t understand why your parents worry so much until you have your own kids.  You’ll one day find out what’s like to have you heart living outside of your body with little feet and little hands.  Your parents may not always get it right but they love you with fierce intensity, you should probably listen to them more.
  17. Seek people that won’t always agree with you but will tell you what you need to hear.
  18. What you are doing today will one day affect your future. When you’re 20 you never stopped to think about that.  But there is no erase button in life. This is especially true in sexual relationships.  There is more to sex than just physical.  There are consequences to sex outside of marriage, there just is.  It’s not a matter of opinion it’s a matter of design.
  19. Who you marry is probably one of the biggest decisions you ever make. It is a covenant, it is forever, and it involves two selfish humans destined to make lots of mess and hurt each other some along the way.  Marriage is not always easy.  But I can not even comprehend a marriage to an unbeliever.  May a man who is seeking Jesus be your NUMBER ONE quality in a future spouse. Everything else if trivial (but you should make sure he has good taste in music too…I mean let’s be real)
  20. If you ever ever ever ever date another guy who says he is a Christian but lives no different than any other guy.  I will personally grab you both up by the ears and lecture you for hours on end about how relationships are designed to model Christ’s love for us on earth.  Is he respecting your body, your heart, and your beauty as Christ loved the church?  Are YOU guarding his eyes by what you wear and how you date?  Both of you are someone’s future spouse.  Are you preparing him, is he preparing you to be a good lifelong spouse or are you in the midst of creating baggage you will have to explain one day.  You are daughter of a KING and if you are not being treated like one OR ACTING like one then you have no business dating anyway.  Two halves make broken disastrous relationships, two whole and complete lovers of Jesus make beautiful loving forever relationships. Get whole before you date.  Wouldn’t you want your future spouse to do the same?
    Drops-the-mic

Sweet dear 20 somethings.  What I see in front of me is a life that is valuable and worth more than you can possibly know today. I hope to save you a lot of time, pain and regret, if you listen to what I wish I’d heard before.

You are precious! You have the world at your feet. Please be brave, surround yourself with the right people, and mostly love Jesus.  Truly love and trust him with your everything. The rest will fall into place.

What if Jesus meant all that stuff about sex?

Top Blog post for 2017

The Corinthian people were having sex with whoever, whenever, and pretending it was all fun and games (I think this was the ancient version of the bachelor). In their time and day, they even had “temple prostitutes.” I’m not even kidding. I can’t even imagine going to church back in this day and age.

So this guy named Paul wrote a letter, to the Corinthian people that was so revolutionary, and so foreign to their culture, there was no way anyone could have made this up. Their ears perked up.  

“I am allowed to do anything. Yes; but not everything is good for you.” 1 Corinthinas 6:12

Katie Paraphrase: Sure you are ALLOWED to eat donuts and frappuccinos all day but I don’t think you will like the consequences.

“Don’t you see? Sex joins two people together. The two will become one. Therefore, RUN from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Katie Paraphrase: Sex joins two people together at our deepest, most intimate level. Let’s not flirt with the line lines of “too far” but run toward integrity and respect.

TIME OUT

Can you imagine this today? Pretend a philosopher, who studies all sides of the matter, is making headlines because he has discovered the secret to lasting relational and sexual satisfaction. His words are full of clear and uncomplicated instructions on how we should handle sex. All your friends are posting to social media about it. This is a BIG DEAL. This is exactly what happened when Paul said these words in Corinthians.

But there is no way those words still apply to us today right!? Are Paul’s words telling us there is something more to this sex thing than just recreational play between two consenting adults?

NO WAY!  Surely 50 Shades of Grey can’t be wrong!

Ok, let’s forget this Bible mumbo jumbo and look to science for a second.  Maybe scientist have a breakthrough discovery that will say something more current.  

 

 

 What science says about sex:

“There are three main neurohormones that are released during sex. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.  These chemicals work together to give us pleasure and bond us together. Oxytocin in particular, tells the brain, “Once connected, stay connected. Sex bonds us at a relational, physical and chemical level. It is a powerful force”“Sex and the Brain” 

“The human brain appears to be specifically designed to encourage monogamous, trust, and commitment-based marriages—even to the point of possessing intricately coordinated brain chemical production.” Science and the bible agree on sex

When a woman is touched in a loving way, her brain secretes oxytocin, which activates feelings of closeness and trust. When this is experienced outside the commitment of marriage, women can become deceived into thinking a bad relationship is good because of the effects of touch-dependent oxytocin. And when that relationship ends, the broken bond and feelings of betrayal of trust can lead to severe emotional trauma. New science on how casual sex is affecting our children

For men, an effect of vasopressin—which floods a man’s brain during intercourse—is that it leads to a bonded feeling with his partner. Research shows that if he has intercourse with multiple partners, the bonded feeling is dissipated, eventually imperiling a man’s ability to form long-term attachments.- McIlhaney and Bush M.D

Gosh, that’s weird, it’s almost as if God knew the science and emotional bond behind his very creation!

No, no, no, I’m quite sure the writers of Cosmopolitan magazine know more about sex than God. Maybe a Ph.D. in the in the area of relationships would know best.  Let’s see what they have to say. 

What Therapist say about sex:

“In the counseling office, individuals rarely if ever weep scalding tears about any other sense of loss like they do for a sexual relationship when it ends. There are soul ties that bind two partners together in unseen ways and there is a sense that part of you has been stolen. There is a hole in your soul where the connection was ripped from you.”  – Dr. Waylon Ward  Professional Couselor, author and speaker

“20 years as a counselor has told me nothing has the ability degrade, cheapen, wound. and rob a sense of who you are as does sex outside of its original design.” -anonymous therapist

Hmmmmmm

These scientist and counselors make an interesting point….what did Paul’s letter say again?

The two shall become one

In the very beginning, God said on Adam and Eve’s wedding day,

“The two are united into one (Genesis 2:24).”

God who made every cell in our body, God who created hormones, God who crafted the very idea of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin.  He knew how deeply sex can bond, He also knew the depth to which it would scar if shared with just anyone. So God gave us sex in marriage. True intimacy, true vulnerability, naked, beautiful, cherishing and honoring love as Adam looked at Eve as the only woman in the world. 

This was the original design.  

I believe this is still the design today. After a couple is married, the two become one and see each other as the only man or the only woman in the whole world, because, in their eyes, they are.

Consider that your heavenly father knows how to care for you better than the movies and the magazines. Take a moment to fathom that God gave you the gift of your sexuality and wants you to enjoy it, but not with just anyone. Just as we said you are “allowed” to eat donuts all day, there are natural consequences to that behavior. This is not a matter of opinion or even religion, this is a matter of how we are DESIGNED. 

Past mistakes are in the past. There are not even enough words to combat the struggles we face coming from a sexual past, but judgment is not one of those words. This post is about grace, new beginnings, and a hope for the younger me looking for love in all the wrong fraternity boys. Let’s consider maybe sex really is sacred and these scriptures are just as true today as they were then.

Today we can decide to draw the line in the sand and protect our eyes, bodies, and heart for God’s best for our lives, wouldn’t you want your future spouse to be doing the same?

-Katie Bulmer
@katiebulmer.life

 

What if Mary said no?

What if Mary had said no? Have you ever considered this?

Mary was just a teenage girl.  She had goals, dreams, and was in the middle of planning a wedding. Just a regular girl, with regular dreams of starting a normal family. But God comes in and asks her to put all that to the side, He has other plans.

If she agrees to carry this baby she is facing possible execution, her fiancé leaving her and becoming the centerpiece to the town’s gossip.
In the unlikely event that anyone believes her, she would also be totally valid to think:
What about me and my plans?
I am about to get married for crying out loud. I don’t want to have to alter the wedding dress!
I like being a regular girl, everyone is going to ask me tons of questions!
I really am too busy for all this right now!
What will everyone think?
God, can you find someone else?

Can you imagine this in today culture?  What with all our “plans and schedules”  I’m afraid we would just be too busy for such a task!

bows

But instead of any of these excuses she says:

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be with me just as you say.” Luke 1:38

I think Mary “got” something that we often just don’t comprehend.

It wasn’t about her.

She had the amazing privilege to be the mother of Jesus because she was willing to be “the Lord’s servant.”

This is HUGE

And her self-sacrificing doesn’t end there.  Imagine you agree to carry God’s baby and it comes time for you to deliver. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking maybe an angel comes and offers a big palace for me to deliver totally pain-free childbirth complete with people fanning me would also be nice. I mean this is the son of God after all, and I sacrificed my plans for all this so….yes a palace fit for this new King, (with central heating and air and a lifetime supply of dark chocolate with sea salt) would be appropriate.

But as we know, Mary has to make a long journey on a donkey (not an Escalade) only to find there is NO ROOM for them at the inn and she has no choice but to deliver Jesus in a cold, poop filled manger.

You would think Mary would be shouting,
“UMM HELLO HAVING GOD’S SON HERE??? Can someone ELSE sleep in the manger for crying out loud?!!”
Yet Mary knew something so powerful it could shake our entire culture. 

THIS WASN’T ABOUT HER.  IT WAS, AND WILL ALWAYS BE, ONLY ABOUT JESUS. 

Every piece of her story, her pain, and even her frustration was all part of the beautiful story that we still remember today and will remember for generations to come, not because of her, but because of Jesus.

But what if Mary said no?  She would have been free to do live her own “important” life not to be “inconvenienced.” Yet her own plans and agenda would have died with her generations ago and we would never even know her name.  

His name is the only one that will last through the generations and he is asking us to play a supporting role!

Playing a supporting role to the only main character that was or will ever be is our greatest opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!

Ironic that if Mary said no it would be because she felt her life was “too important” yet she laid her plans down and now we still know her name today.

Why is it so hard for us to realize this? Mary was truly the Lord’s servant.  She put her own plans, fears, and excuses to the side. None of that matters anyway when the God of the universe has other plans.

Father my own little Kingdom is just laughable really.  Take my oh so important “plans” and use them for YOUR glory.
May I be like Mary, listening to that still small voice and answering with, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you say”

EVEN the NYC trade magazines agree SORORITY GIRLS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Big news my friends!

Canvas 8, a NYC based marketing company, posted a trade article about the incredible trendsetting potential of Sorority girls.  No big deal but it’s read by corporate execs at Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Nike, just to name a few.

This article was written by the talented Andrea Graham Richeson. She is a consultant and consumer anthropologist
studying why people love what they love and founder of the youth culture consultancy, Youth Tribes.

Bascially we share the same marketing brain and I had the most fun interviewing with her.  She pulled some of my favorite topics from “Sorority girl can Change the World” and shared some below.

This article needs to be read by every sorority girl.  Then look yourself in the mirror and say,

“Dang it, I really can change the world!”

WHY SORORITY SISTERS ARE THE TRENDSETTERS

Their reputation as influencers and ability to mainstream trends on college campuses has helped
many clothing, make-up and technology brands go from virtual unknowns to status symbols
seemingly overnight. But what is it about sorority girls that can make an unsung item into the next
big thing?

Scope
For many American students, participating in Greek life – or at least attending the epic parties or
socials of fraternities and sororities – is an integral part of the college experience. And despite
receiving negative press in recent years, young people are still interested in joining these
organizations, especially women; according to the National Panhellenic Conference, the number of
new sorority members increased from roughly 80,000 to over 140,000 in the ten years to 2015, with
the number of chapters rising from 2,900 to nearly 3,200. [1]

 

While some of this increase may be due to the record number of women attending college, there is
also a growing perception among young Americans that going Greek has lifelong social and
economic benefits. While some houses may have a reputation for being party girls, it’s reported
that graduation rates are 20% higher among Greeks than non-Greeks. Their social capital can also
boost future earning potential, with 85% of Fortune 500 executives once belonging to a sorority or
fraternity. [2] And women who join sororities can boast their experiences in committee and
fundraising work through opportunities to assume leadership positions and give back to
communities. [3]
While contemporary youth culture may champion individual expression, sorority culture embraces
cohesive identities that reflect membership, social status and aspiration. Furthermore, members
report feeling empowered by their role as a well-connected individual who can make things happen.
Their reputation as popular influencers and their ability to mainstream trends on campus has
helped many clothing, make-up and tech brands go from virtual unknowns to status symbols
seemingly overnight. But how exactly does this happen? What is it about sorority girls that can
make an unsung item into the next big thing? And what can brands and organizations do to win the
support of these young women?

The power of sisterhood

In the 2015/16 academic year, there were more than 411,000 active undergraduate sorority
members in the US, and at colleges where Greek life has a major presence, up to 88% of female
students join these groups. [4][5] For many new arrivals, the appeal of sororities is hard to resist;
being part of an exclusive group of girls, who know all the right people and go to the cool parties,
seems like an ideal way to spend four years at school. However, while Greek life may be affiliated
with raucous fun, there are more compelling reasons for young women to pledge a house. In her
book Pledged, journalist Alexandra Robbins found that the two primary benefits claimed by sorority
members were a close network of friends and greater confidence. [6]

Conference, sororities were founded to provide female students with a community on male-
dominated campuses, and to find solidarity in the face of “restrictive social customs, unequal status

under the law and the underlying presumption that they were less able than men… Possessing an
unshakable belief in the power of women’s friendship, they came to understand that the one thing
they could not afford was to be at odds with each other.“ [7]

For those who are used to in-group status, or who seek in-group status after
being denied it earlier in their teens, Greek life promises not just a sense of
self, but a sense of belonging
Stephanie Talmadge, social media editor at Racket

 

Yet being a part of an exclusive group comes at a price. Depending on the sorority, recruitment
fees, membership dues, activity costs, and all the fun and fashionable extras can reach thousands

of dollars annually. [8] For many girls, however, the cost is worth the promise of a powerful network
of friends, writes Stephanie Talmadge for Racked;

“Rush at the beginning of your freshman year
and get a brand new label before you even step foot inside a classroom… For those who are used
to in-group status, or who seek in-group status after being denied it earlier in their teens, Greek life
promises not just a sense of self, but a sense of belonging.” [9]

While sororities may try to recruit a particular type of girl, the decision to pledge a certain house is
up to the individual. Linda Boynton Arthur, a researcher who has studied the dynamics of American
sororities, sees young women’s desire to be accepted by a particular organization as an example
of symbolic self-completion theory. “People who feel status anxiety may engage in self-
symbolization, resulting in the adoption of symbols used to bolster identity,” she writes. “Self-
symbolization is an idealized condition that occurs when a person’s status is legitimized by others
who accept these symbols as valid status markers.” [10] Seeking acceptance from people with
similar backgrounds and aspirations can be especially comforting for freshmen, says Laura
Argintar, senior women’s writer at Elite Daily; “A sorority house represents social stability and a
sense of identity. And the thousands of women who partake in rush reaffirm this placement in a
sorority as a coveted status.” [11]

One house, one look
Sorority girls are often envisioned as similarly clad in Hunter boots, Patagonia Snap-T Pullovers,
and leggings, typically holding a Starbucks coffee in one hand. The uniform look may seem
uncanny to outsiders, but the origins of and the importance placed on coordinated dress dates back
to the formation of the original organizations. Members were asked to dress alike for both formal
and informal occasions to strengthen group cohesiveness and establish a public-facing identity. [12]
While not all sororities today embrace a strict dress code or standard of beauty, there are situations
that do require a level of official decorum. Rush week, during which houses market themselves to
potential recruits, is taken very seriously, with some recruitment boards requiring a ‘dress check’
to ensure that members’ outfit choices comply with the look the committee has set for the week.

It’s important to note that, despite the stereotypical image of sorority girls, they are not a monolith.
Some chapters are more casual than others, and care little about designer goods and uniformity.
Regardless, most members often wear their Greek letter t-shirts, sometimes for events and other
times around campus. The reason is twofold – to promote their house and to signify to others that
are in a Greek community. This can be comforting for those who are looking for social connections
early in their college years. “Coming from out of state, I knew absolutely nobody,” says Jen Kline,
who joined Delta Delta Delta at the University of Central Florida. “I would be wearing my shirt, and
it made the biggest difference to me that when I was walking through campus, an older girl who I’ve
never seen before in my life would wave and say, ‘Hi’. You know? They didn’t know my name
then, but they would eventually.”

This group identity is particularly important for new recruits, explains Linda Arthur: “Enculturation
into a sorority began with adoption of the idealized images such as a sorority look. Pledges wanted
to at least look like full-fledged members and alleviated status insecurity by adopting the idealized
image as they embraced their roles.” She notes that while dressing the part is significant for
younger members, by the time they reach their final years, when they have diversified their social
networks, the desire to adhere is lessened. [14]
Sorority girls are well aware of their reputation for dressing alike, but few are concerned about what
others think outside of their group. “Many sorority composite photos have a Stepford Wives quality
to them, made worse during recruitment when they are literally all dressed the same,” write Terri
Pous and Rachel Wilkerson Miller for BuzzFeed. “Some of this is because people recruit new
members the way they find new friends; people tend to gravitate toward people who look like them,
for better or worse.” However, the pair point that sharing a closet with those whose opinion you
trust is even more convincing. “Once you start living with people, you tend to pick up on their style
(especially if you’re sharing clothes or doing each other’s make-up and hair) and develop a sort of
shared culture and look.” [15]

The influence of ‘It’ girls

“Sorority fashion is different from people who aren’t in sororities,” says lifestyle blogger Krystal
Faircloth. “It’s a lot more preppy.” [16] This has proven a major sales booster for brands such as

Lilly Pulitzer, Patagonia, Longchamp, and L.L. Bean, with the latter’s duck boots having seen year-
after-year of record sales as sorority sisters embraced them en masse. Pictures of girls in oversized

boyfriend sweaters, leggings and duck boots have spread across Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest,
becoming the de-facto winter boot for not only college co-eds but the rest of middle class America.
As a result, annual sales are expected to increase from under 100,000 ten years ago to 750,000 in
2017, prompting the Maine-based outfitter to open a second factory. [17]
Countless other companies have counted on the fierce loyalty and influential power of sorority
‘brandoms’. “Once one sorority picks up on a brand, it can spread from person to person like a
scandalous secret, infiltrating one house after the other until every sorority in the country knows
about it. Ta-da: It has become a national phenomenon – and a marketer’s dream,” writes
Bloomberg reporter Kim Bhasin. “When they pick up on a certain item… there’s a chance it will
become a staple within the group at a specific school. They tell their sisters at other schools. Then
everyone shows their moms, opening the brand up to a whole new demographic.” [18]

Once one sorority picks up on a brand, it can spread from person to person
like a scandalous secret, infiltrating one house after the other until every
sorority in the country knows about it
Kim Bhasin, reporter at Bloomberg

Sorority girls are also capable of making tremendous in-roads with their favorite causes.

Whether they’re fundraising for their local community or international humanitarian relief, members can
raise millions of dollars a year for charities.

[19] Katie Bulmer, author of Sorority Girls Can Change the World, believes that they succeed because they have passion, a willingness to cooperate, and
extensive social networks,

“Sorority women also have, on average, 50% more followers on social
media than their non-Greek peers,” she says. “With any given post, sorority women can influence
their social platform of thousands of people. Even the least friendly of the bunch is placed in an
environment to effortlessly meet tons of people and socialize with the most influential students on
campus.” [20]

Fashion brands and non-profits are not the only organizations that have been aided by Greek
student communities to spread their cred among youth. Tech companies like Facebook, Snapchat
and Tinder were all championed by Greek chapters during their early days. Whitney Wolfe and
Justin Mateen, the founders of Bumble and Tinder respectively, built their dating empires by
networking with California’s elite Greek set. Mateen kicked off Tinder in 2012 by hosting a party at
his parents’ house, inviting popular sorority and fraternity members from several colleges in the
area. The only thing they had to do to enter was download the app. “We penetrated the Greek
system,” Mateen says. “The most valuable lesson I learned is the power and influence that the
Greek system has on a student body.” [21]

Insights and opportunities
Sorority organizations play a substantial role in shaping the collegiate social experience. Although
other student groups certainly have clout and influence, the highly social lives and enthusiasm for
brands make Greek groups ideal partners in campus marketing efforts.

“Greek members are tight-
knit, share similar interests and prove to be significantly influenced by their Greek sisters and
brothers. Targeting influencers within these communities can give brands better-staying power and
more bang for their marketing budget’s buck,” writes Kofi Frimpong, an influencer marketing
expert. [22]

Not only are sororities willing to promote products they love, they’re also open to
hosting marketing events and can utilize their social connections to drive consumer-brand
relationships.

As so many sorority members rely on social media, brands may want to focus their attention on
digital influencers and the products and trends they support. Brands like Patagonia, J.Crew, L.L.
Bean, and Lululemon have all enjoyed the unwavering support of sorority girls, helping them reach
new markets both on campus and off.

Bulmer points to the story of Comfort Colors, which went
from a supplier of t-shirts for seaside gift shops to sorority must-have seemingly overnight. In 2015,
the brand was sold for $100 million, with Bulmer claiming that its success was

“not because theyhad a celebrity endorsement, not because of an ad campaign,
but because of these beautiful world-
changing girls decided they liked them.“ [23]

Brands looking to collaborate with these key influencers should consider sponsoring sorority
gatherings, says Delaney Swift, an event specialist in Columbus, Ohio. “Event sponsorship is a
great way for brands to collaborate with sorority organizations. Sororities are constantly hosting and
attending events and are looking for new and innovative partners to help co-plan their activities,”
she explains. “Another great avenue for collaboration is teaming up with a sorority or their chapter
to help one of their many philanthropic efforts.” [24] Tapping into the massive influence of Greek life
begins by harnessing the values that drive sorority organizations – sisterhood and a dedication to
making their community a better place. By aligning with these passions and principles, brands will
find a highly receptive student market and the fiercest of brand advocates.
Andrea Graham Richeson is a New York-based writer, consultant and consumer anthropologist
studying why people love what they love. She specializes in youth culture, gaming, fandoms, social
media, and new media. She is the founder of the youth culture consultancy, Youth Tribes.

Sources
1. ‘Despite scandals and bad ink, more and more students want to go Greek’, The Washington Post (January 2015)
2. ‘Examining the benefits of Greek Life’, USA Today (May 2012)
3. ‘Fraternities and sororities emphasize service and philanthropy’, Virginia Tech (July 2014)
4. ‘Advancing sorority together’, National Panhellenic Conference (2016)
5. ‘Most students in sororities’, US News & World Report (2016)
6. ‘Pledged’, Alexandra Robbins (2015)
7. ‘Adventure in friendship’, National Panhellenic Conference (2012)
8. ‘Buying into Greek life: is it worth it?’, Forbes (June 2014)
9. ‘The sisterhood of the exact same pants’, Racked (August 2017)
10. ‘Role salience, role embracement, and the symbolic self-completion of sorority pledges’, Sociological Inquiry (July
1997)
11. ‘The psychology behind why girls are so willing to join sororities’, Elite Daily (July 2014)
12. ‘Sororities: Sacrificing individuality for conformity’, The State Press (September 2016)
13. ‘It’s time to get ready :)’ , Sorority Girl 101 (February 2012)
14. ‘Dress and the social construction of gender in two sororities’, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal (March 1999)
15. ‘Here’s what sorority recruitment is actually like’, BuzzFeed (September 2017)
16. ‘How Lilly Pulitzer, an almost 60-year-old brand, became a social media darling’, Fortune (August 2016)
17. ‘LL Bean’s ‘duck boot’ gets a production boost’, CBS News (August 2017)
18. ‘Win the sorority girl, win the American wardrobe’, Bloomberg (September 2016)
19. ’13 fraternities and sororities taking philanthropy to the next level’, College Raptor (October 2017)
20. Interview with Katie Bulmer conducted by author
21. ‘How Tinder used Greek life for more than just hookups’, Fortune (August 2016)
22. ‘The best customers of the future are the Greek students of today’, HuffPost (June 2017)
23. ‘$100 million dollar power of influence’, Katie Bulmer (September 2017)
24. Interview with Delaney Swift conducted by author

Boring Husband

If I got what I thought I wanted in a husband when I was 19 I would probably be divorced, my kids would be elementary school dropouts and it’s probable I would even be homeless at this point.

I guess I got this glamours idea of “let’s just have fun together” from the movies. As it turns out, no one would make a movie about my real life and marriage because…well it’s boring.  Movies are made when they fight and break up and then Jerry Maguire says “you complete me.” Or Allie almost marries someone else and then Noah tells her, “This still isn’t over” in the pouring rain. Or they meet on a ship, have a short-lived romance, then Leonardo DiCaprio ends up frozen at the bottom of the ocean.

Our life looks nothing like the movies. Our life is boring in all the best ways. Let me tell you why:

My motto has always been to have fun always, if not always. In my teens, I thought being a Christian meant having fun was against the law. So to meet a man who was seeking Jesus above all things AND made me laugh totally took me off guard. He dated me with respect and boundaries. He puts our family ahead of himself and I can count on him far more than any guy I thought I was in love with before we met.  Here are some examples:

Our actual life:
He goes to work every day, even when he doesn’t want to.
What I thought I wanted:
Do what makes you happy.

Our actual life:
He comes straight home and eats dinner with us at the table.
What I thought I wanted:
Happy Hour every day, all day

Our actual life:
At night he helps the girls with spelling words and reads them a bedtime story.
What I thought I wanted:
Still at the bar. What is a bedtime?

Our actual life:
We budget for what we need and save up for major purchases
What I thought I wanted:
Budget sounds like a cuss word…let’s just spend, have fun and think about the consequences later.

Friends, look for a boring husband. 

He has never been my savior but he has always pointed me to Christ, even at the hardest times in our life. He has never completed me but always complimented me.  We have had 13 years and counting of fun…and never have a questioned his faithfulness because he gives me no reason to.

I don’t want to question where my husband is, if he will go to work tomorrow or where he goes after work. If boring is wrong I don’t want to be right.

 

You and me baby

In the late 90’s the bloodhound gang (yes that is their name) had a one hit wonder that claimed “You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel”

Maybe the wise theologians that are the bloodhound gang have a point. Maybe we are just like the wild animals that roam the African Sahara and sex is nothing more than just a physical act. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it’s what our culture teaches, and what is on TV shows.

If the media tells us sex is no-strings-attached fun, and the music tells us we are just animals. Then certainly we should all just shack up for pleasure and enjoy ourselves with whomever we can get our hands on. Sexual partners can be viewed as just an object for our own pleasures and we don’t have to let those pesky emotions get in the way because we are all just mammals after all. Yes, thank you bloodhound gang (and sex and the city, and the bachelor, and Cosmopolitan) for this free-range advice to have sex with whomever and whenever.  Wow, I feel so free now!

But there is only one problem. 

Anyone who has shared intimacy with another human knows there is something more than just physical. We don’t know how to put words to it but deep down we all know there is something to this thing we call sex.

We are not “just mammals” 

I have seen mammals eat their own vomit, sniff their friend’s butts, roll around on dead animals, and poop in front of anyone and everyone. If this is your thing then have fun, but please let us shake hands instead of smell butts if we meet.

Biologist have pointed to “the human spirit” as the remarkable and unexplainable difference between man and human.
“The human spirit allows man to reason, analyze and create. We are able to greatly exceed the capability of animals because of this special, unique, spiritual component” (source)

Humans are different than other animals physically, emotionally, sexually, physiologically, chemically and by design. If “you and me baby” were simply mammals we would act as simple as these animals. But if you are reading this…there is more to you than simply the cells that make up your body.

On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). He finished His work with a “personal touch.” God formed man from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath (Genesis 2:7). Accordingly, man is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial spirit. In other words, we were made to resemble God himself.

The highlight of his creation. The only being able to reason, to choose, and the only presence on the earth bearing the thumbprint of the creator himself. The angels were applauding in the background astonished at the creativity and detail he made the organs work together, the lungs to filter air, and this unexplainable “human spirit” which is the very image of God. I imagine God taking a step back, stroking his beard, staring at his masterpiece. He knew one thing was missing.

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Genesis 2:18

God Created Sex

God invented sex. Have you ever thought about that? Once upon a time, there was no sex and then God said, “I have an idea.” He made all the animals to procreate yet with humans, again the only creation with a spirit, he gave the gift of sex as something to ENJOY.

Can you imagine?? The creator who had just days before made galaxies even our 21st-century telescopes have yet to discover. Trees 200 feet tall and seeds to reproduce them. The entire ecosystem to feed on itself, grow and continue to reproduce. And the grand finale, the fireworks at the end of the performance is the man, woman relationship.

He presented woman as an extraordinary gift to Adam. Literally, hand stitched together to be the perfect match for Adam. Her form was beautiful and feminine. His form was strong and masculine. They needed each other. In fact, they were literally fashioned and brought into existence to be together.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

I did my homework on this verse. There is a lot of commentary and people way smarter than me that have a lot to say about it. But what I found most interesting is the Hebrew word used when the “two become one” The Hebrew word is e·ḥāḏ and it literally translates to bonding together at the deepest level.  I think the best analogy is cement. Yes cement, as in never-to-be-separated, never-to-be-taken-apart cement. Cement is made to be bound forever. Breaking it up requires a jackhammer, a hard had, possibly a bulldozer and a LOT of hard work. The pieces bound together are never left the same and there is always a mess left behind.

Sounds a lot like many a failed relationship don’t you think?

But e·ḥāḏ , or cement is a beautiful thing in marriage. It bonds the two together for better or worse. Cement can take rain, wind, and storms and still hold together tightly. Cement says, life isn’t always going to be perfect but I’m with you NO MATTER WHAT. 

We have been told sex is wrong or dirty but I think we have simply confused it. God created this gift as the cement in marriage. Two humans, completely exposed and vulnerable offering their love and respect to each other in a physical act of cementing their hearts one to another.

Gosh, it’s as if the creator of sex knows how it works better than we do?? Maybe our culture encouraging us “we are just mammals” here for a good time actually leads to a big hot confused heartsick discombobulated mess??

But the writers of 50 shades of gray can’t be wrong??

Maybe, just maybe, the creator of this very thing we call sex knows best. Maybe the one who designed your body, mind, and spirit wants better for you than what the movies are saying.  And maybe it’s even possible that God knows better than the bloodhound gang (shocking but true).

The man-woman relationship is the only relationship on earth designed to give us a glimpse of how much God loves us. Your spouse is designed to show you God’s love and you are to do the same. That is a no comparison, love you as you are, and look at you as the only man or woman in the world kind of love…. just like Adam and Eve.

Instead of a world run by the theology of the bloodhound gang. I argue sharing sex with someone who vows to honor you, fight for you, and fiercely protect the intimacy of this gift called sex, for the rest of your life, is a much better plan.

$100 million dollar power of influence

“What the heck is comfort colors brand and why does everyone want them all of a sudden?” This was my honest question to my boss in the T-shirt industry just a few years ago. I was a marketing major and worked in advertising my whole grown-up life. When something almost unheard of is all of a sudden flying off the shelves, especially when it’s not even new…I take notice.
At the time Comfort Colors was a 30-year-old company, popular in beach shops along the coast with a net worth in the neighborhood of 10 million dollars. They were doing well for themselves but no could have predicted sales explosion that happened next.

No one knows where or why, but somewhere in the US, sorority girls decided they liked comfort colors brand T-shirts. It started organically with a few Instagram pictures, word of mouth, and even a few blog posts about the new found favorite tee. The chapters caught on as a whole and started ordering in bulk for all their events (and you know sorority girls love their T-shirts) chapter after chapter the word spread about the obsession with these tees.

Meanwhile, Comfort Colors didn’t know what the heck had happened. All they knew is they had to start hustling to keep up with demand. Working in this industry I started getting emails every week notifying us of stock shortages as factories started working overtime to create more tees!

In 2015 the T shirty giant Gildan bought the comfort colors brand for (I hope your sitting down for this)

ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS

This is 10 times their previous net worth.  Not because they had a celebrity endorsement, not because of an ad campaign, but because of these beautiful world changing girls decided they liked them.

I watched the same thing happen with black-rimmed glasses, the messy bun, yoga pants and whatever the fascination is with the pineapple. What was once considered nerdy, sloppy, or irrelevant turns into a multi-million-dollar business when sorority girls decide it’s cool.

This 100 million dollar power of influence led me to think, “What if sorority girls decided a purse made by an artisan in a third world village was the next big thing?” It could totally flip the entire economic model of the village and end poverty for thousands.

What if these girls realize how influential they are in the dating world and stop making excuses for a guy who doesn’t know how to hold her heart?   Most importantly what if these women realized their incredible power and worth as daughters of the King.  All I’m saying is it could change the world.

This picture is when I had the pleasure in early to meet some folks from comfort colors corporate earlier this year. They all agree…Sorority Girls Can Change the world.

“Made brand new” Testimony of Colin Chance

One of the best advice I love to give singles is, “Seek the Lord then look to your left and your right to see who is doing the same.”  

Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Colin Chance.  You will love his honest and relatable journey toward the cross and his world-changing heart. Colin was also one of the first to stop me and say, “Hey you’re that lady that tells sorority girls they can change the world”….So, in other words, I want to adopt him.
Take it away Colin!

Have you ever attempted a diet and in just a few short days, you’ve found yourself breaking it? Maybe
you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to start exercising. But after about the third week into the year,
you skip a day. And by the second week of February, you’ve given up on the idea altogether.

Well, for me, being a Christian was a lot like this! I grew up in a home where I learned stories of Adam and Eve,
Abraham, King David, and of course, Jesus! I knew the story of Jesus; the story of how he came to die on
a cross for our sins. After all, it’s hard to grow up in the South and not know that story. With all of this
information, I spent the first 19 years of my life trying to be a Christian. To tell you the truth, I was really
bad at it! I seemed to be living my life in some sort of cycle of recommitting my life to Christ over and
over. I would find myself at a church camp or church service filled with emotions of how much I love
Jesus. I would commit to reading my bible a certain amount each day, reminding myself to pray before
bed, and seeking to treat people much better. Often this would go on for a week or so. But it would
slowly fade into me no longer striving to accomplish these goals at all. Sure, there were times when I
would manage to “live like a Christian” for a month or two, but it never lasted.

It’s kind of silly to look back on it now. I was attempting to do something that I could never do. You see,
Colin will never be able to live a Christian life. Yes, I can go to church, lead a bible study, or even be a
preacher. These things may qualify me as being a Christian according to the world’s standards. However,
regardless of what this world has told us, none of these things can make me a Christian.

Jesus once had a conversation with a man named Nicodemus (John ch. 3). In this conversation, Jesus told Nicodemus
that you have to be born again to see God’s kingdom. You see, Jesus never asks us to be someone we

be born again to see God’s kingdom.

Jesus never asks us to be someone we cannot be. He doesn’t tell us to change and then come to Him.


Literally, a new being who is truly born again.
This does not mean that we enter back into our mother’s womb to be born again. No, that would still create the same old sinful
Colin. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual birth! The love of Jesus is so great and so vast that He desires for us
to begin doing life with Him instead of trying to do it on our own. When we choose to do life with Jesus,
He does these “Christian” things through us! There is no more recommitting my life because it is no
longer about Colin committing to doing things. It is now simply about allowing Jesus to do things
through me!
To be completely honest with you, I am a selfish and prideful person. I am incapable of loving people
without having selfish motives. I am incapable of serving someone without seeking something in return.
I am incapable of having joy in the worst of circumstances. But the good news is that Colin has been
crucified with Christ! It is no longer Colin who lives, but Christ who lives within in me! (Galatians 2:20)
It’s so beautiful because all of those selfish desires of mine have been put to death when Jesus paid for
my sins on the cross. And on the third day, when He rose from the dead, so did I. I was given new life!
Just as he described to Nicodemus, I was born again. And with this new life, He has given me new
desires. They are to simply love Him and to love all the people He has created (YOU)! And it is the
greatest joy to get to do these two things!

Colin Chance