Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

An article in last week’s edition, titled “The Perfect-Pitch Bellacantos,” included the following quote from Ms. Alysoun Kegel: “Bellacanto is not sexualized, unlike single gendered groups, and they are appreciated solely for their music. Single gendered groups are often objectified.” What she said about sexualization and objectification of single gendered groups really struck a chord with me. This is my third year in The Whimawehs, one of the all-female a capella groups on campus — a group that has been a family, support system, and safe place for me here at Choate. I love to sing, I love a capella, and I love the Whims beyond everything. But sometimes, being in an all-girls group is very frustrating. As Ms. Kegel stated, often the girls a capella groups on campus have to worry about whether their songs are too sexy or too prudish, whether their dresses are too provocative or too boring. Though boys’ groups face some of the same pressure, it is to a lesser degree.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being sexy. For too long, women have been told that being sexual is bad or dirty. Unfortunately, girls are still often over-sexualized to the point that when they are performing, their image is the only thing that matters, and the importance of the music is forgotten. Outside the Choate bubble, this kind of over-sexualitzation is also evident in the music industry: watch any music video and you can see the common short, tight clothing and very high heels that women wear to garner views and likes. Women are told that they need to dress this way in order to have success while they simultaneously get judged and torn down for it. There is a constant struggle between trying to get appreciated and knowing the only way to get that is by adhering to the very narrow norms our culture sets in place.

As a female performer, I, along with the rest of the members of Choate’s all-girl a capella groups, feel this pressure. We work extremely hard on our music, but in the end we worry that the only thing people remember is how we looked and if we were cute or sexy. Too often, the Whims choose to sing certain songs that we think will be popular, or we wear red lipstick because it’s what is considered hot. We wish our talent would stand on its own, but we know that is not usually the reality. The worst part of this, however, is that when people place too much value on how we look, we feel pressure to respond to that. We get labeled as the slutty group even though we are just trying to satisfy others’ expectations. The double-edged sword between being too sexy and not sexy enough is only evident because we, as a society, place unhealthy value on appearance. This is extremely difficult to work both with and around, as it feels as if we can never be good enough.

Hopefully, one day in the future, over-sexualization of women and their actions will cease. I hope that, for now, the Choate community can be sensitive to the battle that girls groups face when they perform. I am so happy Ms. Kegel spoke out about this issue, and I hope that the conversation will continue.


Lily James ’17

One Comment

  1. Corky Bohen says:

    Rock on Lily!

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