Dressed for Success
I haven’t taken the time to learn how to use this blog site yet and that’s why I don’t have any pictures in my posts. I do plan to use pictures eventually and I especially wanted to use them on this entry. But I guess I will just rely on my powers of descriptive writing and the likelihood that if you are reading this blog you know enough of what I’m talking about to form your own visual. Oh well, here we go.
Cheerleaders often complain about feeling marginalized and looked down upon. People call us a bunch of shallow ding bats. While this stereotype is certainly NOT true, I have to admit that the cheerleading industry is promoting this image by continuing to adorn its participants in the least practical outfits ever conceived for athletic performances. Cheer uniforms have become something of an arms race of skimpiness, trying to see which team can expose the most skin. Skirts barely reach down to the top of the hamstrings. Midriffs are exposed from below the naval right up to the bra. There are even random “cut out” to show shoulders, backs necks, etc. You can’t help but wonder what these coaches are thinking when they are flipping through a uniform catalog. Are we picking out a uniform that is appropriate for a physical activity or are we trying to promote ourselves as eye candy?
By the way, this is bad enough when we’re talking about fairly mature varsity high school teams. It is flat out irresponsible to be putting elementary school kids in these outfits. If you are a parent of a 6-year-old, do you really want her worrying about whether or not her belly is hanging over her skirt a little? This is not conducive to forming a healthy self-image people. Seriously.
I could complain about the polyester, the bare midriff, the glitter, the hair and the makeup. All of these have their share of blame when it comes to negative images of cheerleaders. But instead I am going to focus on the prime offender. The aspect of the cheerleading uniform that in many ways has become the definition of cheerleading. The skirt!
Wait a minute. What about a skirt? Doesn’t a cheerleading uniform have to have a skirt??? I hate to say it folks, but a skirt is the biggest problem with cheerleading uniforms. All skirts do is cause problems. They ride up the athlete when the stunt, tumble and jump. Cheerleaders are constantly adjusting their skirts on the sidelines and on the competition mat. They almost never fit quite right. Buttons pop. They are uncomfortable (I have been told). They have zippers that can scratch your teammates. I have a long scar on my forearm from the zipper of my partners skirt during a cradle.
The problem is what in the world could we possibly use to replace the skirt? Is there anything out there that cheerleaders could wear that could address the above concerns? Um….how about shorts? How about pants? How about biker/volleyball shorts? Basically, how about ANYTHING other than a skirt?
The truth is, it would be pretty difficult for us to come up with anything less appropriate for a cheerleading uniform than a skirt. Think about it. Cheerleaders spend parts of their performances upside down. If you knew you were going to walk out your door and do a handstand for all the world to see, wouldn’t you want to wear a skirt for that?
The reason we still have skirts as part of the cheerleading uniform is tradition. It goes back to a time that skirts were down to the ankles and cheerleading was not as athletic as it is today. Skirts were not a problem back then. Cheerleaders were not stunting or tumbling. But times have changes and so has cheerleading. It is way past time for the cheer community to wake up and realize it is time to move forward with our uniforms. Skirts on cheerleaders are uncomfortable, impractical, expensive, and outdated. There are plenty of much better options available for cheerleading uniforms. If as a community we retire the skirt, I believe it would go a long way to advancing the image of cheerleading in the general public. More importantly, I believe it will be an advancement in performance and safety for our athletes.