It’s 7:50 a.m. here on Jordan Avenue, and the parade is about to start. There will be no marching band this morning, nor baton twirlers, nor suburban dads chauffeuring the family’s slow-moving convertible.
But, what we will have this morning is a different parade of sorts. Clad in uniforms of frat tees and sweatpants, last night’s hookups march the sidewalk, twirl their going-out clothes in hand and leap into the back of a Bloomington dad’s slow-moving Uber.
At first glance, our morning’s parade may seem like a letdown: no glittering uniforms or funny-looking plumes, just Alpha Alpha Alpha’s oversized flannels and handles date party sweatshirts. But, look closer once more and see how that morning-after uniform may have transformed the walk of shame into the most valiant parade of collegiate feminism.
That being said, our uniform has to be selected with tact. The light of day won’t take too kindly to last night’s bandage dress and heels, which somehow make you look like the lead in a modern-day “Scarlet Letter.”
No, our parade-goers have much more sense than that, instead selecting a new uniform: the shacker shirt. Each falls mid-thigh, envelopes the waist and comes in a variety of colors. A slew of letters will often stamp the chest, whether greek, FTK or a consulting internship’s acronym that your Kelley adviser would be proud to see.
And here is how the walk of shame starts to become not so shameful. Whereas a bandage dress may scurry into the Uber’s backseat and out of sight, flannels and handles continues its parade down the sidewalk, to your morning lecture and throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Once home, the dress gets thrown lazily into the hamper, but flannels and handles is stored with pride. After all, T-shirt drawers are kind of like a collection of baseball cards – how many more I-Core tees can you find?
Sure, it may be a bit of a stretch to link an XXL tank to destigmatizing the morning after, but this small bone is a rarity when it comes to college sexism. On the sexuality totem pole, women, unfortunately, are often shamed for the same actions for which men are valorized.
In the case of the walk of shame, men can usually go unnoticed walking home in clothes they wore out the night before. In contrast, women going home in a bandage dress and associated crimson “A” only perpetuates this narrative further.
Instead, turning that walk into a parade allows our marchers to take the story upon themselves.
On one hand, they can slip into the crowd of morning schleppers as just another college student rolling out of bed and joining the homogeny of 8 a.m. pajamas. But, on the other, they can subtly wear their parade with pride, relishing the irony of wearing another person's letters across their chest. Together, they both deny the night ever happened and objectify it for their own keeping.
Does this mean wearing a borrowed KOK shirt is the only way to walk to your morning class with pride? Of course not, as I, for one, much prefer a pair of cropped overalls and something with a bit of a collar.
But, it is nice to acknowledge that Alpha Alpha Alpha’s apparel committee could have helped Hester Prynne escape the scaffold’s shame after all.