Audrey Hepburn: The Sorority Girl’s Pin-Up

You may see this image on a daily basis if you go to college.

On a college campus you can’t miss the familiar outline of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) with her cigarette holder while wearing a long black gown on the back of a sorority T-shirt. And of course under that photo will be Chanel’s quote “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” (Though that is completely ironic, because Givenchy dressed Hepburn in most of her films).

If you don’t believe me, scroll through this blog that describes itself as a “celebration of Greek Life.” There are at least 4 posts about both Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.

Sororities have taken the stylish, gamine star and are using her as their unofficial spokes person for the pay-for-your-friends groups.

Photoshopped Audrey Hepburn head on an ADPI body.

She is on their t-shirts, event fliers, posters in their dorm rooms, coffee cups, keychains and Facebooks. Miss Hepburn helps announce fall and spring recruitment, formals and bake sales they have to raise money for their charities. If Audrey Hepburn was a business, it would be one of the wealthiest companies in the United States.

Once in my photography class, I even heard a boy ask who Audrey Hepburn was and my friend Dominic Beamer responded, “You know, she’s that lady who is on the back of all of the sorority t-shirts.”

But why pick on Audrey Hepburn? At the start of her career, she was described as having enormous eyebrows, rat chewed bangs and horse teeth. Does that sound glamorous or sexy?

I think a large part is the Givenchy outfits in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Who can forget the black dress she wears in front of Tiffany’s, the pink party dress she wears when Fred dies or even her brown trench coat?  However, Givenchy also designed the clothes for “Sabrina“, “Charade” and “How to Steal a Million.” Why don’t we see an outline of Audrey in that crazy helmet hat from “How to Steal a Million” or the dress she wows the Lamarees with at the exclusive dinner party in “Sabrina.”

Audrey Hepburn was one of my first favorite actresses when my movie love began. My love with her started with “Sabrina” and then Funny Face.”  I eventually made my way around to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”

When I first saw it in the 8th grade I had no clue what was going on: Why is she getting arrested? Why did he give her $50 to go to the powder room? What is Patricia Neal’s deal?  Now that I’m older, I understand the drug and sexual references; “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is covering some pretty serious stuff.  I often wonder if these girls who say it’s their favorite movie watch it for the glamour of Givenchy’s clothes and George Preppard’s good looks or if they have even seen it at all.  Are they looking at the deeper meaning that Truman Capote wrote about in his novel: a woman toying with the idea of bisexuality?  Audrey Hepburn even felt like she was miscast in the role.

An example of Audrey Hepburn on a T-shirt.

Audrey Hepburn was glamorous in the movies, but like most actresses, didn’t have a fabulous personal life.
•She hid in a cellar from the Nazi’s during World War 2. She and her mother lived in occupied Holland and were forced to eat tullip bulbs and grass. This is what lead to her eating disorder later on in life.
• She wanted to be a ballerina but was told that she was too tall.
• Audrey had a difficult time getting pregnant. She was pregnant at the start of the movie “The Unforgiven” but was thrown from the horse and suffered a miscarriage-along with a broken back.
• Audrey had two failed marriages: One with actor Mel Ferrer and another with Andrea Dotti who cheated on her.
• While filming “My Fair Lady,” Hepburn worked very hard learning the songs and desperately wanted to sing. In the end she was dubbed my Marnie Nixon. Hepburn later said she wouldn’t have agreed to the film had she known this.
• She was constantly self conscious about her flat chest, thinness and looks. She was very uncomfortable and unhappy during the movie “Funny Face” and wanted Mel Ferrer with her during all times.
• Robert Wolders lived with her at the end of her life….(I feel like he was someone who just swooned the older actresses and wanted their money).

Standard Coco Chanel quote

However, Audrey Hepburn also was a wonderful woman who had a love for gardens and spent the end of her life  doing work with UNICEF. She was also a great actress who won an Oscar for “Roman Holiday.” It’s a shame to me that she has her image defamed on brainless, comic sans-fonted sorority t-shirts.

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17 thoughts on “Audrey Hepburn: The Sorority Girl’s Pin-Up

  1. omg, that pic of audrey’s face photoshopped on some hipster’s body. amazing!I’ll bet 95% of the girls who wear those tshirts for their sorority don’t even have a clue

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    • Hahah I know I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry when I first saw that photo. I’m pretty sure you ar right about them not having a clue…it’s such a shame too. She really was a wonderful actress.

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  2. did you hear about the independently-produced short film about Audrey that came out a few months ago? I can’t find the whole film online but I’ve seen the trailer and the actress who plays her looks just like her.

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  3. I agree with you–it bothers me when people who don’t even really know who Audrey is plaster her image everywhere. She was in so much more than just B@T (I love Audrey but I don’t really even like that movie) and she was a very kind person and humanitarian, also.

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    • I know, she was a wonderful person and it kinda makes a bad name for her when sororities use her likeness all the time-since they choose people based on wealth and looks.
      I don’t think B@T is the greatest movie ever. I mean I like it, but I don’t think it’s Oscar worthy or anything.

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  4. I’ve always thought it was amusing that her prostitute role was the famous one! All these women dressing up as the movie Holly Golightly for Halloween, but not seeming to have a clue who they are really portraying. I guess that’s just a testament to the way she carried herself–there was no dirtying up that gal.

    Wolders definitely isn’t a fortune hunter. He has–or at least had–a great deal his own money–an inheritance. I think he was just sort of aimless because he didn’t have to work, so he made a career out of keeping lovely, mature actresses happy. From all I’ve read, he is a good guy.

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    • Wow haha I didn’t even think about that with the Halloween stuff! Great observation and very amusing 🙂

      As for Wolders, I’m glad to know he wasn’t a fortune hunter. I will say I was a bit skeptical since he was married to Merle Oberon and then had a relationship with Audrey. I just worry about older actresses being preyed on. I wonder about Randal Malone and Anita Page too. I’ve heard skepticism about him.

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  5. Audrey was the gal who started my love affair with the classics. A friend of mine chose “Roman Holiday” for a chick flick night back in 2003, and although I was reluctant to watch an “old black and white film starring actors and actresses I didn’t know,” I watched…and fell in love.

    “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is not one of my faves of her films, though.

    And, I’m with you about thinking it’s rather wrong for sororities to be using her as their “face.” Not speaking for all, but far and away, the sorority girls I have known are snobby and elitist, which is not at all in keeping with Audrey’s views about people.

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    • Audrey (and Doris Day) are actually what really got me into classics as well. She was a good role model for a 13 year old-classy, fashionable and cared about charities. But to have her for the mascot for elitist organizations is irritating.
      I’ve known a few sorority girls who were nice, and they are the ones who dropped out because they didn’t like the hypocritical rules.

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  6. You underestimate sorority girls. My mom and I are both sorores and have Audrey Hepburn marathons every time I’m home from college. I have one sister who keeps “Funny Face” on hand for emergency de-stressing movie breaks. And above all, none of the sorority girls I know are snobby or elitist. We go out of our way to improve ourselves as people and to make the world a better place. Please don’t judge millions of women based upon a few, and especially not based upon movies like Animal House or House Bunny.

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    • Thank you for stopping by. Unfortunately, I’m not basing my judgements off of “Animal House” or “House Bunny” (two films I saw long after I wrote this post), but first hand experiences.
      Ones at my South Carolina colleges have ridiculous life views such as “drinking out of water fountains make you look poor” and “carrying cash makes you look poor.”

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