Cheerleaders with the National Football League have a strict set of guidelines they must follow, including what they can and can’t do in their private lives, the New York Times reports.
For several clubs, one of those rules is not wearing sweatpants when they go out in public.
Other rules say no dating or social interaction outside of “polite professional interaction” with any of the players on the team, other NFL players in the league or employees with the club. That also includes interactions via text messages and on social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram, according to the Times.
Cheerleaders with the Carolina Panthers have to remove or cover any body piercings or tattoos before the game, arrive five hours before the game starts and can’t change into their personal attire until they have left the stadium.
Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders must “maintain ideal body weight” and be subject to regular weigh-ins. They also are prohibited from taking part in any exotic dancing or posing nude or semi-nude or “performing in tasteless films, photos or bikini/swimwear contest.”
Of the seven handbooks the outlet reviewed, cheerleaders must meet follow personal hygiene tips, which includes shaving techniques. For some clubs, there are even restrictions on their nail polish and jewelry.
“The club’s intention is to completely control the behavior of the women, even when they are not actually at their workplace,” Leslie Levy, who represented cheerleaders who sued the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders said. “It’s an issue of power. You see a disparate treatment between the cheerleaders, and the mascots and anyone else who works for the team. I can’t think of another arena where employers exert this level of control, even when they are not at work.”
But other cheerleaders say their experience as an NFL cheerleader made their lives better.
“Cheerleading changed my life,” Flavia Berys, a former cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers explained. “When I was an N.F.L. cheerleader, I learned a lot about how to speak to the media, I learned about the rules of decorum and professionalism. We were taught how to interact with the staff and the players, and everything. The training we had was all for a reason, and looking back, I think it was all for the right reasons.”