Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Image (Getty Images)
Aside from the Playboy Playmates, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC) have long been touted as the most enviable girls next door – somehow walking a treacherous tightrope between the best of “natural” American beauty and glitzy vampire glamour. On Tuesday, DCC’s social media accounts released a video giving an insight into how the image is produced, showing a male photographer editing teammates’ bodies for their annual poster.
These posters are used both as a memento of the team each year, as well as as material for the cheerleaders to sign and hand out at games and other engagements. With a poster in hand, fans can take home some of the spirit and charm of DCC, one of the most respected teams in the country. And if the women are going to be plastered on someone’s bedroom wall for a few years, it’s in everyone’s best interest—the team, the photographers, and the cheerleaders—that these women look their best. What the editor does on a technical level in the video is somewhat beside the point. Instead, the look of what’s going on in this video, in the larger context of the cheerleading industry and beauty standards in general, has left me, social media users and at least one current NFL cheerleader…weird.
On the one hand, promoting the improper and (ironically) unfiltered use of photoshop to digitally manipulate photos of women, regardless of whether the photo editor has actually made them smaller or artificially sculpted, is a creepy marketing choice. Professional photos of people of all genders are almost always edited or manipulated in some way for marketing purposes – but watching the process up close is extremely disgusting in 2022.
“I was like, ‘Really? That’s the way you want to show your team?” a current NFL cheerleader, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told Jezebel. “I mean, I feel like that team’s brand is built around this natural beauty, girl from neighborhood, and the fact that they showed the editing was weird to me…and they definitely told me that they were doing that kind of editing.”
In advertising, there has been a shift towards minimal, if any, editing of women’s bodies in photographs. And overall, we’ve become more empathetic toward those with a history of body dysmorphia or eating disorders who may be triggered by the visual of unnecessary changes to body parts. To that end, it’s one thing for a team to adhere to an archaic and unattainable body standard, which is harmful in itself (this is the NFL, after all, operating 30 to 50 years in the past, depending on the issue). But it’s another thing entirely for the team, or whoever approved the post, to not just say the silent part out loud, but use it as part of their marketing. Even America’s sweethearts, apparently—positioned as ideal female prototypes—are edited to hell and back in the photos you end up seeing online.
As a former NFL cheerleader, I fought – and still fight – to change the narrative about female cheerleaders and dancers. I insisted that women like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders practice activation in doing this work, despite valid feminist anxieties about the “male gaze.” In a system that continues to be dominated by men, cheerleaders have every right to put their resources to work if they want to – brain, face, body or all of the above. Content like Tuesday’s video, however, does nothing but perpetuate harmful stereotypes by portraying a cluster of lithe women, quiet, smiling and sponsored by a tanning booth.
But for individuals whose bodies are constantly picked apart by fans and social media users (an unpleasant but unavoidable part of the job), retouching can also protect teammates from harassment. A fan I spoke with, for example, recalled a time a former team circulated an unretouched series of photos in which bruises and body hair were still visible on some of her teammates.
“The complete lack of editing looks really unpolished and also feels cruel. I think there’s a good middle ground…because whether we like it or not, our bodies are put under such scrutiny and people are going to watch them very carefully,” she said. “There are definitely some things that are appropriate to fix, but [I still] felt like it was a very strange marketing choice by the Dallas Cowboys.”
It’s also extremely outdated and out of touch with reality to post videos of zoomed-in body parts, which does less to empower and humanize these women and more to objectify them. They’re easy to resize, easy to erase, even — which is especially scary, when cheerleaders have filed several sexual harassment lawsuits in the past year.
DCC—and their peers across the industry—deserve better than this. They deserve to be portrayed as Marvel superheroes, or working women, or even just as people. There’s nothing wrong with making a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader poster; but seeing women’s bodies so easily manipulated and reproduced for public consumption highlights how far we still have to go.
Why did Holly get fired from DCC?
In 2017, star cheerleader Holly Powell quit the team after director Kelli Finglass, who took over in 1991, learned she and teammate Jenna Jackson had been seen with players, a confrontation captured on season 12 of the reality show Making the Team . This may interest you : Panthers give all control to woman who started out as a cheerleader.
What season did holly leave DCC? Season 12 At the very beginning of the episode, Kelli reveals that Holly has submitted her resignation letter.
Why was Holly kicked out of DCC? Holly resigned after being confronted about her relationship with the player. They told her not to go to Canton and that she was on probation.
Where is Holly from DCC?
She auditioned for the team as a brave 20-year-old and danced in the 2011-2015 season. Prior to DCC, Holly was a member of the University of North Texas Dance Team for 3 years. To see also : Skull Session: TBDBITL Receives Spotlight at National Commercial, Justin Fields Lights Brown at NFL Pres. Holly and her family stayed close to home and currently live in Argyle, Texas.
How long has Holly been DCC? Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Holly is a 5 year veteran from Denton, Texas! #DCC #GemOfTheWeek | Facebook.
What happened to DCC Holly? Holly resigned after being confronted about her relationship with the player. They told her not to go to Canton and that she was on probation. She chose to leave.
Do you have to try out every year to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader?
DCC is considered the toughest NFL team to root for. Members of the veteran squad must be re-elected each year. To see also : Interview with Hannah Goldman: FSU Co-ed Cheerleader. Finglass was the first cheerleader in DCC history not to have to re-audition when she was automatically re-selected for season five.
Is being a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader a full-time job? Is being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader a full-time job? No, most cheerleaders work part-time or full-time or attend college.
How long can you be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? The average tenure is three years, but I know a couple of women who cheered for 10.
What are the rules to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader?
Despite working in the same industry as NFL players, cheerleaders work under very different conditions, having to adhere to strict rules.
- Respect the dress code even when you are off duty. …
- Hide tattoos and piercings. …
- Control their weight. …
- No opinions, complaints or slang. …
- Stay away from players at all times.
What is the age limit to become a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? You must be at least 18 years old on day 1 of the audition, but there is no maximum age. We had ladies in their 50s (even a 62 year old if I remember correctly). There is also no gender rule.