The University of Washington (UW) was forced to hastily retract an infographic advising women on how to try out for the cheerleader squad after students denounced it for promoting a “Western” idea of beauty.
The infographic, posted Monday to Facebook, features a Washington Huskies cheerleader along with a list of “do’s” and “dont’s” [sic] for those who want to try out for a spot on the team Friday.Some of the “do” advice includes “girl about town lipstick,” “hair down,” and “physically fit athletic physique.” On the other hand, prospects are told to avoid “distracting fingernail polish,” “visible tattoos,” and hair dyed in “trendy colors.”
But the school was forced to take down the infographic within a day, after it was denounced online as an offensive expressive of Western cultural norms.
“I can’t believe this is real,” UW student and student government member Jazmine Perez complained to 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.”
Another student, Signe Burchim, complained that men would never face similar expectations when trying out for their own sports. Others complained that the graphic was racist because it featured a white woman on it and apparently promoted white standards of beauty.
UW’s student government issued an aggressive denunciation of the image, and appeared to indirectly tie the backlash against it to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“An advertisement such as this completely objectifies women and creates barriers that only perpetuates the inaccessibility of opportunities that should be open for every student on this campus,” the statement said. “We will be doing everything in our power to make it very clear to our students (both incoming and current) that this is not in any way representative of our university and our campus climate. We hope the administration will do the same.”
Eventually, UW apologized and said it took down the image after deciding it was “inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”
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