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Daily Share: UW Cheerleaders Slammed for Racist, Body-Shaming List of Do’s and Don’ts

UW Cheerleader Do's and Don'ts.

A University of Washington cheerleader illustrates the rules.

If you needed proof that cheerleading is still incredibly isolated and performative of stereotypical femininity, here it is! Make sure that your skin is beachy and bronze, but not TOO bronze. Also, it’s totally cool to wear fake lashes, but ugh … don’t contour your face. It’s like, ugly, and like, if you’re skinny enough, you don’t have anything to worry about. P.S.: no fatties!

Huskies athletics officials said they created the graphic “in response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.”

It was met with immediate backlash this week because of its racism, fatphobia and sexism. The athletic department removed the ad after determining “that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”

Katherine Long of the Seattle Times wrote an excellent article about the whole debacle. “One of the first things that comes to mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” one UW student told Long.

“As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive,” said UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government.

UW senior Signe Burchim said, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much.” Such a message would never go out to men trying out for a sport, she said.

One commenter who wished to reclaim cheerleading said, “When I was a cheerleader we worked so hard to be considered a sport. This infographic goes against what we fought for. We don’t ask the same of any other athletes. And really, no ponytails?”

Yep, no ponytails.  After all, it’s not about comfort.  It’s about performing your femininity.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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