Yesterday, Deadspin released an article exposing the exploitation job that NFL teams pull on their cheerleaders.
And before you start not giving a damn about the perils of NFL cheerleaders, remember that even though this is a superficial industry, these are American workers, and when you look at some of the revelations that have been brought to light about the conditions they work under, you have to realize that vapid or not, these women deserve the same basic labor rights that we all do:
Sure it makes sense that cheerleaders should be held to some sort of fitness standard, but when you realize that one woman who showed up five pounds lighter at the beginning one season was benched when she put that weight back on, returning to her original, “approved” weight, you start to realize the absurdity behind some of these demands.
“After coming in lighter, she put back some of the weight throughout the year. She was benched for multiple games even though she weighed less than she did the year before. Eventually she had the backbone to tell them she was fed up with it, and quit. Believe me when I tell you, she was no where near overweight.”
The Staying Pretty
Along with being in ideal shape, cheerleaders are expected to also look, well, pretty. Apparently, every year the women are given a hair and makeup assessment in which their look for the season is determined, and after that session, the cheerleaders must continue to visit the same hair salon to maintain the prescribed style and paying it for themselves.
Any perks that cheerleaders receive, such as gym memberships, teeth whitenings, and tanning vouchers (my skin crawled just writing that), are limited and usually distributed by seniority, leaving many of the cheerleaders to spend around $1,000 a season on hair/makeup/etc.
The Cheerleader Calendar Ponzi Scheme
Probably one of the more outlandish abuses that the article brings up is the Ponzi scheme involving the cheerleaders’ annual calendar.
All the women are required to buy 100 of these calendars for $12 each, and then they are responsible for selling them for $15 a piece, meaning they can earn a whole $300 profit if they sell out! And don’t worry, they have installment plans for the women who can’t afford to front $1,200 for calendars. At least they’re making a healthy $7.75 an hour…
The Forfeiture of Privacy
No one wants their boss snooping around their Facebook page, no matter how secured one may think they’ve made it, but if you’re a cheerleader, you can expect it.
Deadspin’s former-cheerleader tipster reveals, “If you participate in any social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook…you are required to ‘Friend Request’ your director.”
You can read the whole shebang for yourself over at Deadspin, but fair warning: it will make seeing cheerleaders at football games feel like looking at animals at the zoo.
Now give me an “E” for Equality!