Letter Box

High marks for November’s issue
I want to tell you how impressed I am with [the November] magazine. The articles featuring Dr. Ellen Deibert and Congressman Chris Smith are very inspirational. I have written … previously regarding other coverage that I felt did not come up to my expectations for the College, and I would be remiss if I did not praise your excellent coverage today.
Mary C. Weingart ’87

“Speaking Truth to Power”

I was glad to read the article on Representative Chris Smith. My wife worked in his Hamilton office for a few years, and he is an amazing, hard working, and personable individual.
Joe Myers ’98
Skinny models article offers food for thought

I just received the November 2008 issue of TCNJ Magazine that was addressed to my daughter who is a freshman at TCNJ…. This issue gave me a moment of pause. Your front cover highlights “Thin is in”. Shocked at such a heading that is broadcasted to all students, male and female, I can only ask, “What were you thinking!”

I found no “walk away” value to this article but to promote the stereotypical battle facing our young women to be thin to fit in. And our only hope is to maybe become more complacent about your weight when you reach your thirties. There is one sentence referring to Dove and its campaign to dispel these dangerous beliefs and a disclaimer that the study is ongoing.

Our children are faced daily with this social pressure and I do not feel that this article was an add-value to their formative processes. I believe your magazine should exercise more responsibility to provide appropriate messages and reporting that support healthy lifestyles, and your front-page [cover line], “Thin is in,” speaks to the male population of students as well. This title perpetuates the belief that only thin is valuable.

I’m deeply disappointed. I expected to find articles appropriate and at the very least responsible. I’m curious: of all the articles this magazine highlighted, why was this one chosen for the front cover with the [cover line] “Thin is in”?  In this day and age I find it shameful.
Jessie Phillips

Ed’s note: The article, “The Skinny on Why Some Consumers Prefer Thin Models,” detailed ongoing consumer-behavior research being done by business professor Karen Becker-Olsen. We decided to highlight the research because of the international media attention it has received. We asked the professor to respond:

As academic researchers, we do not shape or promote a specific lifestyle or value orientation; however, we do report on them. The research does not promote the development of ideal images. What it does is highlight that many young women still strive for those images, and that marketing managers need to be careful about what images they use. In essence, it shows the paradox of our very thinking and behavior. We find many such paradoxical findings in consumer behavior.
As noted in the article, we found that after immediate exposure to these ideal images, young women generally feel worse about their own body shape and size. The work has done exactly what we hoped: it got people to talk about why this happens and, if such behavior is deemed detrimental, what we can do to help young women have better body esteem and be less influenced by these images. We might even influence the industry so they develop alternative tactics (e.g., no models) that are not as harmful. As marketers though, the job is to determine how to influence potential consumers and persuade them to choose a particular product/brand over competitors. If young women feel better about brands that feature thin models, then it may be irresponsible (as marketers) to use less ideal images in the advertising.
Karen Becker-Olsen, PhD

Response to November’s ‘Looking back’
My guess is that it is pledge time and that the girls kicking their legs are pledge sisters from Omega Psi. Brings back old pledging memories…though I wasn’t an Omega Psi pledge.
Dottie Arnao ’76

[The photo shows] a group of pledges (1976) for Omega Psi sorority “performing” for sisters of the sorority during pledge season. Omega Psi recently celebrated its 50th anniversary on Homecoming weekend with a few hundred sisters attending a luncheon in the Student Center!
Andrea (Papa) Faraci ’77

Having been a member of the Omega Psi Sorority pledge class of 1983, I immediately recognized the picture from The Seal as “jesters” (pledges) from either the fall or spring pledge classes of 1976 performing the song “Pink and White” for their “princesses” (already initiated members) while dressed in their pledge shirts (which were maroon at that time), with their hair pulled up into “lambie tails” (special pigtails high on their heads that mimicked the ears of lambs—the sorority symbol) and holding their pledge books. At the time this picture was taken, Phelps Hall was the place that all the local sororities on campus conducted their daytime pledge activities during rush season. The four local sororities (Omega Psi, Gamma Sigma, Ionian Sigma, and Philomathean Sigma) shared both the indoor and outdoor space of “The U,” and often sisters of other sororities would watch from the sidelines while the “jesters” performed. Often the pledges of each sorority were encouraged to “outsing” or “outdance” the pledges from the pledge classes of other sororities in kind of a “showdown” of talent. While this technically could be considered a hazing ritual by today’s standards, this was considered tame activity for the times. By the time I pledged in the early ’80s, most pledge activities like this were conducted primarily indoors as a way to shield the pledges from any embarrassment that they may experience from onlookers outside the Greek community watching and not understanding the meaning and purpose behind such performances. Even now, years later, I can appreciate this picture and remember fondly my own time as a pledge, and later as an initiated member of Omega Psi, as some of the most meaningful parts of my college career. It was an experience I will never forget and will always appreciate. “In Union There Is Strength.”
Bonnie Watson ’85

‘The Pit’ article was tops

Thanks for the article on The Pit [in October’s online-only issue]. It brought back a lot of really fond memories for me and everyone I’ve shared it with so far. Great job!
Jeff Kagan ’90

Thanks for the great article on The Pit. It got some great attention from Pit alumni, and spurred several to create a Pit facebook® page to try and organize former members. I appreciate the attention that [the first floor of] Centennial received—that place made a big difference in the person I am today.
Eric Gehring ’95

The article [on The Pit] really captured the spirit of the place. Nice work.
Jordan Zaretsky ’89

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