Firestorm erupts over UW’s ideal cheerleader flyer

Firestorm erupts over UW’s ideal cheerleader flyer

Flyer advising the look needed for cheerleader tryouts comes under fire. PHOTO: University of Washington Cheerleading

In response to a number of questions about tryouts for cheerleader and dance teams, the University of Washington posted a graphic describing the “Cheer and Dance Tryout Look,” and the response by the community has been less than supportive.

According to the Washington Post, the graphic pictured a tanned, white woman, with blond hair and a forced smile, while promoting the makeup, body, hair and attire do’s and don’ts.  Some of the supposedly desired qualities included “physically fit, athletic physique,” “girl about town lipstick,” and “hair down, curled or straight.”  The graphics “dont’s” list “visible tattos,” tops that cover the midriff,” and “too much makeup.”

Almost immediately, the blowback started.  Critics said the graphic objectified women and perpetuated sexist, Anglo-centric ideals of beauty.  Jazmine Perez, the director of programming for the university’s student government, told the Seattle Times by email, she couldn’t believe the flyer was real.

“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. As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive,” continued Perez.

The university deleted the graphic almost immediately, and the athletic department issued a statement saying the graphic had been removed after it was “determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”

The university’s student government also issues its own statement, adding the flyer did not reflect the values of the school.  “In the midst of protests and conversations with the administration in order to provide a more inclusive environment for all of our students, this goes against everything that many students have been working so hard for,” the statement said.

Some have commented that the tryouts are basically a job interview, and there are many websites and booklets that advise job candidates on the best was to dress and look when job seeking.  A story on NBC noted flyers of a similar look have been published by Louisiana State University and in-state rival Washington State University also.

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