Title: The Zeta Tau Alpha Belt/Sash
Category: Ceremonial Object
Informant: Lisa L. Gabbard
Nationality: American, caucasian
Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)
Date of Collection: 4/8/18
The sash/belt is made by the member being intimated into the Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA). The sash is composed of nine alternating ribbons in the ZTA colors: turquoise blue and steel grey. The sash is worn around the waist and over a white petticoat. The ZTA sash is only worn during two occasions of a woman’s life: ZTA initiation and the woman’s wedding day.
Zeta Tau Alpha is a Panhellenic social and philanthropic sorority. They are best known for founding the “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness campaign. The ZTA sash is hand made during a woman’s initiation ceremony and is worn over an all-white petticoat. After the woman is initiated into the sorority the woman will keep the sash in her possession until their wedding day. On their wedding day, the woman will wear the sash once more underneath her wedding gown and over the white petticoat (if applicable) beneath the dress’s fabric. The woman will generally make a point of letting the sorority sisters present at her wedding know that she is wearing it and show them prior to the ceremony.
It is interesting to gather this sorority tradition from my mother since there is no record of ZTA ever being present on USC’s campus and very few of my friends would know about their traditions. Traditionally, as a member of a Panhellenic sorority, female members are required by secret oath to withhold all secrets and traditions of their respective sororities to death and never tell others of their secrets. Luckily, my mother and I do not hold these secrets between each other and she shared this story with me. I understand this ritual to be a “full circle” sort of deal from initiation (innocence) to marriage (maturity). She explained to me that this was a way for her to share her wedding with her “sisters” and still keep them close as she moved on to the next phase of her life.