The University of Washington made a bit of a misstep when they published a guide to cheerleader "do's" and "don'ts" -- solely focused on very specific physical qualifications.
The infographic was shared on social media this week ahead of try-outs for the team, featuring a white, thin, young blonde woman dressed in a black sports bra and shorts. Some of the prescriptive "do's" include "girl about town lipstick," "physically fit, athletic physique," "curled or straight hair" and a sports bra. Don'ts include "too much makeup," "tops that cover the midriff" and "visible tattoos." (The horror!)
Needless to say, many people were not thrilled.
“I can’t believe this is real,” UW student Jazmine Perez, who is director of programming for student government, told the Seattle Times. “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. As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.”
The poster was created by the cheerleading squad. Following backlash, the school's athletic department asked them to remove the image, as the UW athletic department explained in a statement to People magazine:
In response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts, a member of the UW spirit leadership team created a graphic aimed at providing interested students information in preparation for the tryouts. The graphic was removed immediately, after a UW athletic department official saw it and determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics. Athletic department officials have reinforced the values of the programs to UW spirit leadership, and look forward to an equitable and diverse tryout process for interested students.