Those enlightened feminists over at Gymnastics Australia have ordered Australian cheerleaders to cover up their midriffs because it’s feared “revealing costumes make sensitive teenagers feel uncomfortable about their weight and affect the self-esteem of [presumably less sensitive] others”, reports the Sunday Mail in Queensland. Gymnastics Australia is “keen for cheerleaders to be seen as athletes in sports wear, rather than bimbos in bikinis”.
Riiiiiiight. So that would explain why a pretty face, tiny body, unfeasibly large breasts and inch-thick makeup are also an obligatory part of the costume for these ‘athletes in sports wear’. Let’s not dwell on the exploitative and pervy skin-tight costumes worn by female gymnasts (if they were old enough to have pubic hair, they’d need to do some serious waxing).
I’m also wondering why a gymnastics board is the peak body for cheerleaders but not, say, ballet dancers. Cheerleading is hard work and requires high levels of skill and fitness, but so is arm wrestling, which is not covered by Gym Oz. On the other hand trampolining is, but not diving. Go figure.
It’s nice that the Sunday Mail got into the spirit of things by accompanying the story with this delightful photo of some of the Queensland Reds’ top athletes: Jasmine, Taryn and Bec. And you can clearly see how Bec, on the right with the bare belly, is the only one of the three who might give teenagers funny ideas about how they’re supposed to look.
But, you know, it’s good to see those Gymnastics Australia chaps taking a stand somewhere that will really make a difference. Once cheerleading fans are deprived of navel-gazing opportunities, teenage girls will have no more sources of poor body image. Except TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, the internet, posters, books and, of course, each other.