Look like this, not that: UW pulls cheerleader-tryout advice after angry backlash
A University of Washington infographic advising women how to do their makeup and hair for cheer-team trials sparked a social-media backlash Tuesday.
Natural and spray tans are encouraged, but don’t flash “dark, smokey eyes” or wear “too much makeup.” Then again, “nude lips,” or hair in a ponytail, is a no-no.
That advice, along with a photo of a white woman with blond hair posing in shorts and a sports bra, was posted on Facebook by the University of Washington cheerleading team Monday night, four days before Husky cheerleader tryouts.
A Facebook backlash began building online immediately, and the infographic — modeled after similar ones posted by Washington State University and Louisiana State University — was removed before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
“I can’t believe this is real,” said UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government, via email.
“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,” she said. “As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.”
Said Signe Burchim, a UW senior: “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much.” Such a message would never go out to men trying out for a sport, she said.
In a statement, Husky athletics officials said they created the graphic “in response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.”
It was removed after the department “determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”
Seattle resident Clay Thompson posted it on his Facebook page “to ensure that the University of Washington addresses the overt racism (I know there’s more, but let’s start there) in the ad.”
He called it “offensive, exclusionary and ignorant. Those are not values of Seattle or the Puget Sound community.”
“False lashes and not nude lips, but don’t wear too much makeup …? So conflicting,” wrote one commenter on Facebook. “And why so much focus on the ‘right’ makeup, hair, clothes and nails for a tryout?”
Another wrote: “When I was a cheerleader we worked so hard to be considered a sport. This infographic goes against what we fought for. We don’t ask the same of any other athletes. And really no ponytails??”