Senior Washed Up Girls (or SWUGs) is a term that has become popular amongst students, used to described young women reaching the end of their college careers.
You read that right: college seniors are “washed up” and too old in comparison to younger classmates. A recent an article in Yale Daily News the from a self-proclaimed SWUG has stirred up a lot of discussion about this controversial term.
The piece that ran in the student paper chronicled the misfortune of being a SWUG. It included commentary from these Ivy league students including a sophomore boy who said,
“It’s a girl who has been through the meat grinder. A seasoned veteran who knows the ropes.”
The term SWUG started as a tongue-in-cheek joke poking fun at the many expectations that are placed on women and an unwillingness to allow those expectations to dictate their lives any longer. A SWUG is a young woman that no longer enjoys the game of dressing up and hitting frat row on a Friday night but would rather stay in her sweatpants and drink boxed wine while marathoning her roommate’s Sex and the City DVD collection. It’s only humorous because they are not washed up — not even close. Rather, their lives are just beginning. The term was meant to be self-deprecating, a nod to their growing maturity and looming graduation right around the corner.
Somehow the term got spun around in the recent article from Raisa Bruner at Yale into something that now means a senior girl who the guys don’t want to date because they would rather date the freshman. In the article we meet “Kiki,” the alter ego of a senior that introduces herself as a freshman to “Yale’s finest male specimens” at a daytime party. Like a proper SWUG, however, instead of dressing up she’s wearing her clothes straight from the gym. “I chat with the guys I know and use my seniority to cut the line for fresh-grilled sausages. But that’s about all either of us are getting,” Bruner notes.
“Just by virtue of my age and the fact that I’m at this party drinking cheap champagne before cocktail hour, I, too, am a SWUG. Wish I had a freshman alter ego.”
Somehow this term that started in good fun changed into something derogatory, one that adds to the list of things that women should feel badly about. According to a graduate that originated the term, “It was basically an inside joke. We knew we weren’t washed up. We were just making fun of ourselves. No one was serious about it, and now it’s been taken out of context by younger girls. A lot of us, the original so-called SWUGS, are disappointed with what it’s turned into.”
Instead of embracing their evolved maturity and being more content with themselves, this new wave of SWUGs are choosing to feel badly about their positive growth. They are even promoting the idea by going to great lengths of actually holding panel discussions to examine the term. I’m not kidding.
Maybe I did college wrong, but when I was senior there was no desire to go back to being a freshman. I’d choose meeting up with friends at a bar over a sleazy frat party any day. When we first enter college as freshman we notice endless unwritten rules that have nothing to do with academics. For instance, learning the lingo. Freshman year becomes a crash course to learn the terminology about everything from drinking games to the best dining halls. In an effort to become a part of something bigger and fit in, we learn the rules. By the time senior year rolls around we’ve got them down, experienced them and subsequently concluded that most of them are ridiculous. So a “SWUG” is not someone to be pitied, but rather someone who knows what they like and who isn’t interested in pretending anymore.
The last semester of college is a strange time. Seniors are facing the inevitable transformation of relationships that will never be the same again and wandering a campus that will never again be “their’s” in quite the same way. These SWUGs are just grabbing on to any last morsel of what they imagined college to be like before venturing off into the abyss we call the real world.