October 05, 2010
Earlier this year, cheerleaders in one Florida district had to get special permission to wear their skirts on game day, because the uniforms were too skimpy for a new dress code. In a fascinating twist, last week cheerleaders in Connecticut begged school officials to help make their uniforms less skimpy.
According to the Connecticut Post and NBC Connecticut, Heidi Medina, the captain of Bridgeport Central's cheerleading squad, stood before the Bridgeport Board of Education in her team's standard uniform, which bares athletes midriffs and uses either small shorts or baggy sweatpants as bottoms, to make a statement that it was inappropriate.
Medina and fellow seniors insist that the Central uniforms do not meet regulations that require cheerleader uniforms to cover an athlete's midsection when they stand at attention.
"It really hurts our self esteem," Bridgeport Central senior Ariana Mesaros told the Board of Education, according to the Post. "I am embarrassed to stand up here dressed like this. Is this really how you want Bridgeport to be represented?"
As noted by NBC Connecticut, the Bridgeport cheerleaders' plea comes on the heels of a recent study of college cheerleaders, which found that college cheerleaders whose uniforms exposed midriffs faced a significantly higher risk of developing eating disorders.
For its part, the Bridgeport Board of Education is moving quickly to quell the controversy, with the assistant superintendent of secondary schools telling the Post that black bodysuits would be purchased for the Central cheerleaders to wear under their uniforms.
Still, the incident raises a troubling disparity between what cheerleaders are expected to look like, and what might be most healthy for them. While the eating disorder study focused on college cheerleaders, there's little doubt that the findings are significant for high school cheerleaders, too.
[Photos: See professional cheerleaders in action]
The fact that one group of cheerleaders would advocate for more conservative uniforms while others would push to get their smaller uniforms green lighted speaks to the lack of standards among cheerleading uniforms.
If nothing else, the two divergent pleas provide an intriguing case study for why establishing national cheerleading uniform standards might be justified.
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