A report said NFL cheerleaders are subject to strict rules, including weight limits and what to wear. (Reuters)
NFL cheerleaders must maintain “an ideal body weight,” engage in “proper use of tampons” and refrain from wearing sweatpants in public, according to a new report detailing the strict rules imposed on cheerleaders around the league.
The New York Times reported teams like the Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers set strict rules for the women to follow.
Everything is up for grabs, according to the report, including the women’s personal hygiene, dating life and wardrobe. A few handbooks reviewed by The Times revealed tips including “shaving techniques, proper use of tampons” and banning women from wearing sweatpants in public.
Cheerleaders for the Baltimore Ravens were asked to weigh in regularly to maintain a specific weight.
Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders were weighed regularly to ensure they “maintained ideal body weight,” a 2009 handbook said. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals told their cheerleaders to be within “three pounds of ideal weight.”
The Bengals told The New York Times that the team changed its policy and no longer has a weight requirement. The Ravens and the NFL declined to comment.
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The Carolina Panthers cheerleaders, known as the TopCats, are required to show up five hours before the game begins, take water breaks only when the team is on offense and change out of their uniforms only after leaving the stadium.
Salary is also a problem for the cheerleading team. The dancers are paid barely more than minimum wage, but are required to spend hundreds on their uniforms. Many are also required to attend charity events to help sell tickets and calendars – but they receive none of the proceeds.
The report stated that the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders could change out of their uniforms when outside the stadium.
New Orleans Saints cheerleaders were required to sell at least 20 calendars of themselves in bikinis before games.
Bailey Davis, a former Saints cheerleader, told The New York Times that she was fired days after posting a photo on social media of herself in a one-piece swimsuit in January. She said team officials accused her of violating rules that prohibit cheerleaders from appearing nude, semi-nude or in underwear and that prohibit them from attending parties with Saints players.
Davis told The New York Times that she was often afraid of being touched by a drunken fan while selling the calendars.
“You walk past a guy and you’re afraid you’re going to get touched,” Davis said. “Every girl dreads going out there before the games. We didn’t feel that important because we were literally thrown into the mix with the fans. Who would throw professional cheerleaders, walk around with money, out with drunken fans?”
After her dismissal, Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the Saints hold cheerleaders and players to separate standards.
The New Orleans Saints demanded that the cheerleaders not appear in nude or semi-nude photos.
Like the Saints, many teams require cheerleaders not to appear in nude or semi-nude photos, the report said. Cheerleaders are also banned from exotic dancing and “appearance in tasteless films, pictures or bikini/swimsuit competitions”.
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Oakland Raiders cheerleaders, the Raiderettes, are banned from associating with NFL players and are not allowed to follow them on social media. The strict rules even state that cheerleaders are prohibited from posting pictures of themselves in uniform. Raiderettes are also at risk of losing pay if they bring the wrong uniform or pom poms on game day.
The Oakland Raiderettes are banned from teaming up with NFL players.
The San Francisco 49ers go a step further with their cheerleaders. Gold Rush cheerleaders are not allowed to tell people they are affiliated with the team. They are also advised to turn off the GPS function on their phones so that friends and family are not aware of their location during games.
As for the cheerleaders who complain about the rules, they are reportedly told that they are easily replaced.
San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders are not allowed to tell people they work for the team.
“The club’s intention is to completely control the behavior of the women, even when they are not actually in their workplace,” said Leslie Levy, an attorney who represented the cheerleaders suing the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. “It’s a question of power. You see disparate treatment between the cheerleaders, and the mascots and everyone else who works for the team. I can’t think of another arena where employers exercise this level of control, even when they’re not at work. »
The cheerleaders New York Jets Flight Crew won a case in which the team agreed to pay the dancers about $325,000 in back pay. The class action alleged that the women were not paid for internships and other work.
Some teams say they are working towards a better and more equal working environment.
Cheerleaders from the New York Jets Flight Crew won a case in which the team agreed to pay the dancers about $325,000 in back pay.
The Los Angeles Rams, for example, announced that two men will be joining their sidelines.