I’m past the age of worrying about being in the in-crowd – in fact. I’d sort of forgotten about it. But an article I read recently brought back memories of earlier days. It seems that for all our years of battling to be a sisterhood of enlightened women, there are still throwbacks – supposedly intelligent ones: college-educated sorority girls! I recently read an article that listed the rules for the pi phi sorority at Cornell University. Here are a few of them. I think they were written by the president of pi phi – who is, apparently, the sole arbiter of fashion …
- No watches with timers or any kind of Indiglo light are allowed. ("I will have the time to keep you informed, so unless your watch is a piece of jewelry, you don't need it. Put on a bangle.")
- Pi Phi members should not wear satin unless they weigh under 130 pounds or the piece is from Dolce & Gabbana or Betsey Johnson.
- No "frumpy" clothes or "muffin top."
- "Booties ok if you can pull them off, aka probably not."
- On jewelry: "I won’t tolerate any gross plastic shizzzz. I love things on wrists and I demand earrings if your ears are pierced."
- No chapped lips or mustaches.
- “Blush is not optional.”
- Hair must be “freshly colored.”
- You best have a mani/pedi when you get to Ithaca."
Seems to me that there are some really nice ways to tell people that their fashion choices aren’t quite right for them, rather than coming down with a bunch of harsh (and ridiculous) dictates. Inviting them to a spa day (great place to get rid of the mustache) might be better. Or having a group shopping spree to choose some really nice jeans or better shoes, or more appropriate jewelry would be a better way. I’ve known some really amazing people who never cared much about fashion rules – and the world is a far better place because of them.
A lot of romance novels feature heroines who don’t always follow the beaten path. This is true of Maggie Danvers, the heroine of my newest book, The Rogue Prince. She’s a young Regency-era widow of a wastrel viscount, and cannot depend upon her super socially-conscious family to help her. Anonymously, Maggie uses her artistic talents to earn (yes, earn!) the funds she needs to get out of debt by drawing caricatures of the people she meets at social events. And she makes lots of money by selling the cartoons to the newspapers. If her family and friends found out what she was doing, they would disown her.
Her primary subject is a man who has come to England disguised as a prince, seventeen years after being transported to a penal colony for a crime he did not commit. He’s fabulously wealthy now, and is out for revenge on the two privileged little jerks who set him up. He intends to ruin them and their families, just as he and his family were destroyed. But he meets Maggie and starts to fall for her, without knowing that she is connected to the two – she is the widow of one, and step-sister of the other. Destroying his enemies will destroy her.
Which brings me back to pi phi . With everything we know about being a hero or heroine, we know they usually do the right thing. They might have a few lessons to learn on their path to becoming “heroic,” but we can usually see some indications that they’re on the right track. Those sorority girls? What do you think? Do they have any insight at all? Will they ever mature and become heroines in anyone’s life – even their own?
Hey – I’m up for a giveaway. I wonder what you all think about this list of rules and how you managed to live through the dictates of the “in” crowd. I’ll draw one name and send her a copy of The Rogue Prince, my May release from Avon Books.
Please visit Margo at her website!