Opinion: Huffington Post needs to rethink its insulting definition of "preppiness"

Boston College was named the third preppiest college in the nation by Huffington Post in their recent article, “The Preppiest Colleges of 2012.”  The article defines preppiness as “a love of Brooks Brothers, a passion for lacrosse, [and] a hatred of regular shoes.” While this definition may seem simple enough, the author goes on to give disparaging and offensive descriptions of eight schools which they have deemed to be the preppiest colleges of 2012.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

In the short blurb on BC, that accompanies a photo of two well-dressed girls at a job-fair in Conte Forum, our student body is described as “homogenous” and “a bit too preppy.” They seem to think that the term “preppy” has negative connotations and certainly use it in such a way throughout the article.

From the get go, with the description of Georgetown as number one, it is clear that this list is no honor roll.

Putting the overall insulting tone of the article aside for a minute, let me just say that, according to the article’s definition of “preppiness,” Boston College doesn’t belong on this list. Sure our bookstore sells Brooks Brothers and we have our own Vineyard Vines pattern, but hey, you can’t hold that against us. It’s not our fault we’re so awesome that a clothing brand wanted to dedicate a pattern to us and hold a fashion shoot in our library. Sue us.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

And yes, we love our boat shoes and pearls. But those are not a uniform at Boston College, as anyone with eyesight who has ever visited campus knows. And to call us “a bit too preppy,” well I’m sorry, but pray tell what is this general standard of prep which we have offended?

However, Huffington Post, if you’re going to use lacrosse as a major determining factor of preppiness, you might want to do some thorough research on the subject. One of the major discrepancies in giving BC this “honor” lies in that fact that we do not have a varsity male lacrosse team. It is an issue which has plagued the athletic department and alumni from Long Island for years, so spare us the condescending assumptions.

As for the homogeneity of campus, the article does a poor job of describing to what they are referring exactly. Are we talking homogenous as in the terms of the student body? Or merely homogenous in terms of the general passion for Brooks Brothers on campus? Please, if you’re going to insult us, be specific.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Not that the description of preppiness is insulting; in fact this is my major gripe with the article. Why is preppiness a negative quality? It describes a particular fashion sense, an individual choice which we make to express our personality.

Of course there are students at BC who would describe themselves as preppy, but there are also students who would describe their style as bohemian, artsy or athletic. These fashion decisions belong to the individual and to disparage anyone’s personal fashion choices on a national news source is ridiculous.

It seems that the ways in which BC students “put a lot of emphasis on appearance—for better or for worse,” has reached national attention. This accusation comes at the end of a semester during which campus erupted in outrage over the creation of the @BCFASHIONPOLICE twitter account.

Unless you are living under a rock on campus, you’ll know that the account is run by a group of students who take it upon themselves to evaluate the fashion choices of the entire campus. These tweets are often demeaning and hurtful, occasionally including pictures of the victims. The Huffington Post's article is equally insulting and even less witty than the observations of the “Fashion Police.”

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

This over-generalization of the Boston College student population is an embarrassment for the Huffington Post. To all of the BC students out there who consider themselves preppy: wear your Sperry’s loud and proud! They are nothing to be ashamed of and are no indication of you conforming to some campus wide uniform.

To everyone else at BC: continue rocking whatever fashion choices you make! And to the Huffington Post: re-think your definition of preppiness as an insult. We are preppy and proud of it.

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Emily Akin