Standing up to Stereotypes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   For many years people have considered the "typical"cheerleader a blond, anorexic, dim-witted tramp who can't tellher right from her left. A cheerleader's two biggest concernsare, supposedly, herself and the boys she is cheeringfor.

As for me, I am an athletic junior in high schoolwho enjoys cheerleading. I have to face the stereotypes andjokes every day because people can't look beyond the commonmisconception. I hear these jests from students, faculty andother adults. People have made me feel embarrassed and evendirty for being a cheerleader.

Cheerleading is one tinyportion of my life which has helped me in many ways. Not onlydoes it keep me in shape, it has built my confidence toperform for a crowd. It has also introduced me to a new groupof friends, friends who I would never label as stereotypicalcheerleaders.

Many don't understand what goes intocheerleading. We don't just show up at a game and cheer; thereis a lot of physical training in this sport. Yes, I saidsport. We practice many hours each week and perform at everygame just like the athletes. We cheer, come rain or shine.During practices we stretch, run and jump to keep ourselves incondition. We are constantly lifting people in mounts and canend up at the bottom of the pile when the stunt collapses.Cheerleading is about bonding and girls learning to trust oneanother. From personal experience I can say that being on thetop of a pyramid is not as easy at it looks!

I think ofmyself as a well-rounded individual involved in manyactivities. I'm committed to student council and am an activemember of community clubs. I also run track in the spring andmaintain a high grade-point average. Some cheerleaders areflaky, self-absorbed and easy, but it's not because they'recheerleaders. These types are found in every school activity.These qualities are not "required" for cheerleading.

Iwish cheerleaders would get more recognition for their realqualities rather than their stereotypes. When the girls are onthe field, they're there to perform for the crowd. They areperceived as airheads because they jump around and scream. Allof that is to psyche up the crowd. Most leave that behind whenthey walk off the field; it's the few exceptions people dwellon. The next time you see a girl in her uniform, remember thatit is only a costume. Open your eyes to the real girl, lookpast her outfit, forget the stereotype and know her for whoshe really is.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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fiftiesgal467 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm
Oh my gosh, I swear you are reading my mind. I'm an unathletic, boring, nerdy girl. Never in a million years did I dream I would be a cheerleader one day. Maybe I thought I'd be on the debate team or science olympiad team, but not cheerleading. This was because I thought cheerleaders were your stereotypical mean, blonde airheads. This year one of my best friends convinced me to do cheerleading. After much convincing, I agreed. It was incredibly out of my box, but I ended up loving it. ... (more »)
 
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