So…. we still have snow on the ground and when I got up this morning, the weather man (who I do not personally dislike but and growing ever unhappy with) said the nasty “S” word again.  I sat at the computer, scrawled a nasty note to mother nature, and then decided to make coffee, get a grip on myself and write.  For me writing heals all ills. It’s the venting about varied and assorted topics (most sorority related on this particular blog) that brings me to my inner calm.

Seems that many of you have been busy during your spring break, finding those final recs and beginning to assemble your rec packets.  Yay!!!!  Good job. It’s so nice when it all comes together.  I love things that are perfect little packages all tied up in bows :). There has been a flurry of last-minute questions, especially about pics for rec packets, so thought I’d address those picture questions today.

I was thinking about rec pictures today and came to a few realizations (and “a ha” moments…thus the title of the post).  You are going to have to bear with me for a few while I explain…..

I have been married to my husband for a VERYYYYY long time.  When we first began to date I made sure that I looked my best every time he picked me up.  That meant, clothes… perfect, make-up… perfect and hair…perfect.  If you would have taken a picture of me , well….I would have looked “picture perfect”.  As time went on I got a little less “picture perfect”.  There were causal dates where the clothes were comfy and the make-up just didn’t quite get done.  As we became more “comfortable” with each other the “picture perfect me” became the “comfortable in my own skin” me.  There was no need to impress by what I looked like, he “knew” who I was by my actions, thoughts, words and deeds.

Well ladies sorority pictures tend to represent the same journey. The statement, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is aptly true.  The purpose of the pictures you send in with your recs is to give the sororities a visual of what you look like.  They want to be able to recognize you when you walk through the doorway that very first round of parties.  The “words” they will convey will come through the visual of how you carry yourself in the pictures.  Do you look happy, confident, put together, classy, healthy, wholesome?  While this seems somewhat superficial your pictures will help the sorority to understand who you are on another level.

So how do you choose? What makes the perfect rec picture?  How many? What size is the right size?  Do you send multiple poses?  Should you send different poses with each rec even if it’s going to the same sorority?  All good questions! While I do not profess to be an “expert” on any topics when it comes to sorority recruitment, my experiences have led me to form some pretty definite opinions and ideas.  So here are my thoughts on the whole picture process :).

First and foremost, make sure that any picture you send in with a rec looks like how you will look the day you start the recruitment process.  What that means is that you are blonde in the pic you better be that same color blonde on day 1.  If you have long hair it better still be close to long.  I had a question about bangs.  If you don’t have bangs in the picture and if cutting bangs changes the way you look then don’t cut bangs.  the same goes if you have very definite bangs and growing them out changes the way you look….don’t do it.  Now honestly, if you are growing out bangs and you want to gradually do it so that you have feathered bangs then fine.   I don’t want to appear as the hair police but there are good reasons for my rant.  I can’t tell you how many times girls get a wild idea about doing something different with their hair right before they leave for college.  Save the urge, you can do it after recruitment.

Many sororities use the pictures you send in as a tool of recognition.  That’s a good thing.    In many cases when a PNM stands out on paper (your rec and resume) the sorority will make sure that you are picked up, at the door by a specific member who probably has similar interests and is also a good conversationalist not to mention a good rusher.  The picture that you sent in conveyed in words that you had characteristics that made you interesting to that particular sorority.  They are on the “look out” for you.  They want to get to know you better. What better way to do that than to make sure that you are placed with a member who will be able to talk with you comfortably.  This comfortable conversation will help the member to break through the awkwardness of recruitment conversation (we sometimes call it “first date syndrome”) and get to know who the real “you ” is.

So how do you choose what pictures to send and how many?  My advice is to choose pictures of you that are flattering, natural and look like you.  No glamour shots, air brushed prints or pictures that have been altered or touched up. Sure we all want to look beautiful (just like my first dates with my husband) but the truth is the girl who a sorority truly is looking for is the girl who isn’t the made up like a super model, perfectly dressed in designer fashion but rather a girl who appears to be natural, comfortable in her own skin and confident about what she has to offer as a sorority member.

I would be lying if I said that they don’t “look” at what you look like.  Yep it is shallow, but a picture tells a thousand words.  If you are rumpled, messy, in clothes that don’t fit and disheveled, then you are sending the message that you don’t care.  Sure there are exceptions but in most cases if you don’t care enough to present the best “you ” that you can be (and oh by the way that doesn’t mean that you have to be dressed in expensive designer clothing) then are you really going to care about being part of a sisterhood that is going to ask you to give of yourself. and care about its members??

So send pics that are natural.  You should be the only person in the picture.  You clothes should be neat and appropriate. We always say that senior pics work well and for the most part that holds true.  If you have had your senior pictures altered then perhaps you may want to make another choice (my daughter had a friend who had her senior pics “touched up” and well…she really didn’t look like herself at all).  The appropriate senior picture size is the smaller trading size, usually 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

You will need at least 1 shot of your face (we call it a head shot) and one shot of your full body.  When choosing the body shot make sure that it’s appropriate,no bathing suits, short shorts or short skirts or dresses as well as nothing too tight.  I always warn girls to be careful of strapless dresses. If the dress comes up high then it’s usually okay but cleavage is a no-no.  FYI..this also holds true for recruitment.  When choosing clothing make sure you are comfortable in your choice.  Sometimes a strapless dress can slip or a PNM will feel like she is constantly pulling it up.   Two-sided clothing fashion tape will work on occasion but if you are in an area where it is hot and humid this is not the answer. I would shy away from shots that have your team uniform (they have read your resume and know you played sport XYZ). The look you should be going for is attractive without being over done.

What if you don’t have senior pictures that work?  It’s fine to send in pictures that have been taken by a family member or friend.  You do not need to go to the expense of hiring a professional photographer.  Make sure the pictures are clear, in focus, are color authentic (stay away from sepias or black and white) and only have you in the picture.  You can get then developed at Walgreens or any other photo lab. 3×5 or 4×6 is okay but don’t go any larger. It really doesn’t make any difference whether you get matt or glossy, use whatever looks best.

The next question is how many do you send?  My advice is to check your schools panhellenic website.  They will give you directions on how many pictures are suggested. Most panhellenics ask for at least 2 and in some cases they will ask for 3. This is also true for certain sororities so you might check with the woman writing your rec as to how many pictures she would like.  It is a great idea to have a third picture (usually a full body shot) available just in case. Why three pictures?  it depends on the campus.  Some sororities will use a third picture to make a poster of a PNM.  Think of the “What about me” posters you made in school.  They will put a picture on the poster and the write on the poster all of the wonderful attributes that the PNM has.  These are then hung in the upstairs hallways of the sorority house for the members to look at and familiarize themselves with the PNMs going through recruitment.

Some sororities make notebooks of all of the PNMs .  Not only do they include the picture but they might also put the best rec, their resume or a mini fact sheet about each PNM.  Again, these are passed around and left out for referral in an out-of-the-way place during recruitment.  Other sororities will use the picture for a slide show to be used during the membership selection process.  Each sorority is different and the differences can even vary from campus to campus so be prepared.

There has been lost of discussion about how to handle multiple recs to the same sorority and pictures.  Do you send a different set of pictures to each rec writer so that the sorority receives lots of different poses and pictures or do you send the same set to each woman who is writing you a rec?  I believe that it is the PNMs best interest to send the same set of pictures to each woman who is writing your recs for a particular house.  You want the sorority to be on the look out for YOU.  Multiple pics of a PNM can be confusing.  Remember that in some cases a sorority might receive 3000 or more recs!!!  That’s a lot of paper work and pictures  If you have multiple pictures of a PNM (hair up, hair down, jeans, dresses, at the beach, in the woods) it can become confusing and frustrating.  I understand wanting to show all sides of you, but there is something to be said for simplicity and elegance.  Which brings me briefly to hair.  When you are sending a picture make sure that your hair is how you would wear it during recruitment.  If you have curly hair but plan on straightening it every day of recruitment then make sure the pictures you send in are of you with straight hair.  Rule of thumb…make sure the picture looks the “you” that will be going through recruitment.

Make sure you label your pictures.  Check your panhellenic website for specific information but generally speaking on the back of each picture write your name, your high school and your home town.  For your hometown use the name of the town or the city that you use for your mailing address. FYI, the high school is important.  Last year we had 2 PNMs who had the same first and last name, were from the same town and looked similar.  Thank goodness they went to a different high school.  It was so confusing that the University actually awarded the wrong girl a research opportunity by mistake.  You can clearly print the information on the back or make stickers, it’s up to you.

So that’s the news on rec pictures.  Hope this helps!  Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words…what will your picture say about you?