I think it’s a fair assumption to say that a large percentage of girls in sororities were either in cheer or dance during high school. That’s where we got our first taste of the whole female bonding experience, and it’s something we looked forward to having in college as well. As young girls, we were part of a team. We dressed the same and wore our hair the same because when we got out on that field or on that stage, we weren’t individuals anymore. We were all small parts of a larger unit, and together we were better and stronger.
College athletics is more intense, competitive, and demanding than high school sports. The expectations are higher and the routines are more challenging because college athletics are for the elite — the best of the best. The University of Washington came under fire recently for their “racist” tryout flyer, which was intended to help prospective cheerleaders know how to dress.
And here's what's wrong with America. University of Washington publishes do's/dont's list for cheerleader tryouts. pic.twitter.com/0nngE22pGL
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) April 28, 2016
Some people found the flyer extremely offensive and UW was forced to take it down.
From The Seattle Times:
“I can’t believe this is real,” said UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government, via email.
“One of the first things that comes mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” she said. “As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.”
When I first saw the poster, I read the thing over two or three times trying to find the racism. Yes, there is a Caucasian woman front and center. But does one person on a flyer stand for the entire organization? Definitely not.
The content of the flyer is not at all shocking. It looks pretty similar to what I (and I’m assuming other high school cheerleaders) had to wear for try outs. No, our stomachs weren’t showing, but we did have to wear natural makeup, no jewelry, the same tryout uniform, etc. It’s standard for any dance/cheer tryout to wear the same thing and have the same “look.” If you want to wear blue eyeshadow and black lipstick, you probably wouldn’t enjoy being part of an organization where you have to put aside your individuality for the greater good of the team. If you’re trying out for a team like this, smokey eyes, tattoos, and jewelry would be too distracting.
The only thing I find mildly confusing is the “girl about town” lipstick. What does that even mean? It would’ve been easier to say nude or light pink, nothing too distracting.
Cheerleaders are judged on their skills and their performance. I’m positive that if a girl of any other race came into tryouts and whipped out a double back to full and made it look easy, she would make the team. And yes, you have to have an “athletic physique” because cheerleaders literally defy gravity by flipping around in the air a bunch of times. That’s just part of the job.
This flyer isn’t exactly groundbreaking, either. UW was basically just copying this flyer that Washington State put out last month. There were no cries of outrage when this flyer came out.
Maybe you should sit this one out, activists. Let the cheerleaders live. .