A recent complaint has surfaced at the University of Washington regarding tips posted by the cheerleading program on how to “look” like a cheerleader. The quote provided with the complaint came from UW student Jazmine Perez: “I can’t believe this is real[.] As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.”
Let’s break this down.
1.) “I can’t believe this is real.” I could have accepted this statement for a few reasons. First, I have a hard time believing that photos of women on the Internet have not been photo shopped at least a little. There were probably some touches made because that is unfortunately the society we live in, one that does not tolerate natural body blemishes. Look at the variation in hue, not considering make up. Also consider the lack of any definable anatomy near the sternum. She has lots of definition in the abs, but none near her chest. Strange. Second, consider the difficulty in attaining this body naturally. With hard work and diet, it can be done, but not many women achieve this body shape. “I can’t believe it is real” to me, could be the fact that this may be an impossible fitness goal for some. I also thought someone might be calling attention to the skimpy outfits cheerleaders commonly wear. I understand the need for freely moving clothing, but how much skin do you need to show to do the job? Jazmine Perez’s complaint is not centered on any of this, it is apparently centered on race.
2.) “As a student of color” Here we go again. Somebody is going to ignore the obvious point that cheerleaders are held to a ridiculously high beauty standard and go after something that is totally unrelated to the issue. We’re going to make it about race. They put a picture of a white, blond haired woman. How dare they. How dare this member of the cheerleading program do such a horrible, awful thing, such as being white and taking a picture of it. Not anywhere on the post does this suggest you must be white to cheer. If you look at everything in your life through the prism of racism, then of course, it is there. If you look at everything through one racist view, you will find it everywhere.
3.) “who looks nothing like the student in the poster.” Well, roughly half the student population is not female, so neither do the men. Are there no male cheerleaders? Certainly there are, why aren’t men complaining? Most white women don’t have a physically toned body like this, so they don’t look like this girl either. How are they supposed to feel? Let’s go through every potential subgroup on campus, since we are in the realm of time wasting already. What about the faculty? Certainly they would like to participate in cheerleading. Do they look like this?
4.) “This feels very exclusive.” Oh yes. Feelings. Let’s rate whether or not something is acceptable purely on feelings. And yes, cheerleading is exclusive. They can’t have a group of 300 girls. I bet the maybe have thirty on the team every year, I’m guessing so don’t quote me. The girls put a lot of time into physical training and choreography. They also show up at a lot of school events, fundraisers and service projects. If you are assuming it is white women only in the cheer program, look again. I have to think this complaining student must live under a rock.
The Kicker: Once again, the cheerleaders are the center of attention.