Cheerleaders are part of sports at pretty much every level, barring some professional teams. From Pop Warner football and the little girls on the sidelines to the high-level cheer and dance teams that put on incredible routines at the college level, cheerleaders go hand-in-pom pom with sports. However, cheerleading as an institution can be somewhat old fashioned and a frequent target of criticism. See also the University of Washington Huskies cheer and dance teams. The University of Washington Huskies cheerleader try-out poster is being slammed as sexist and racist.
Well, it’s going to be considered sexist, simply because it’s cheerleaders. It’s racist because it supports so-called Western standards of beauty, meaning straight (or curly) hair worn down and “a bronze, beachy glow” to the makeup. The choice of outfit also forces cheerleaders to show their legs and stomachs, which seems like it would be par for the course for cheerleader outfits, but also opens them up for the sexism allegations. For their part, Washington took down the posters and issued an official apology to separate themselves from the poster.
Said UW associate vice president of media relations and communications Norman Arkans, the poster is “inappropriate and not reflective of the University’s values, especially regarding depiction of women and inclusiveness. It is not reflective of our effort to assemble a squad that reflects the diversity of the institution. The episode will be a teaching moment for the cheer squad, our athletic department, and indeed, for our university. Discussions in athletics with the squad leadership are already underway.”
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