The National Football League has come under fire recently for how it treats its cheerleaders and some of the style and makeup rules will shock you. A comprehensive New York Times report revealed that NFL cheerleaders receive handbooks detailing restrictions on hair, makeup, and even how to eat. Read on to learn what could be the most restrictive employment contract ever.
1. No body piercings or tattoos allowed
Cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers, known as the TopCats, must arrive at the stadium on game days at least five hours before kickoff. Because of their low salaries, that often means they net just a few bucks per hour. Cheerleaders must also remove all body piercings and cover all tattoos before they appear in public, as well.
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2. This club must stay within 3 pounds of ‘ideal’
According to several members, Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders must undergo regular weigh-ins. The team expects them to “maintain ideal body weight,” according to a handbook from 2009. The Cincinnati Ben-Gals got even more precise, in recent years. Cheerleaders had to stay within three pounds of their “ideal weight,” even though doctors also say that varies widely, based on body mass and figure type.
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3. The ‘jiggle test’ dictated these cheerleaders’ physiques
The Buffalo Bills Jills allege they were subjected to a weekly “jiggle test,” before the squad got disbanded. That consisted of doing jumping jacks while their stomachs, arms, legs, hips, and butts got scrutinized. In addition, the Jills’ manual instructs cheerleaders never to eat in uniform “unless arrangements have been made in advance.”
Next: Some teams even forbid this totally normal outfit.
4. Some cheerleaders can’t wear sweatpants
In some cases, teams forbid cheerleaders from wearing sweatpants in public. “The club’s intention is to completely control the behavior of the women, even when they are not actually at their workplace,” said Leslie Levy, who represented cheerleaders who successfully sued the Jets and the Oakland Raiders for back pay. “It’s an issue of power … I can’t think of another arena where employers exert this level of control, even when they are not at work.”
Next: This super specific contract even dictates makeup colors.
5. Ravens must stay tan and well-coiffed
The Ravens demand that the cheerleaders stay tan, keep their nails manicured without getting too flashy, and get their hair dyed at least two weeks prior to every game to prevent visible roots. In addition, the Jills had to wear “foundation, blush, three natural eye shadow colors (lid cover, highlighter, definer), eyeliner, mascara, and red lipstick.” They also had to buy their own uniforms, at $650 a pop.
Next: These cheerleaders actually had to show their midsections.
6. Two-piece Tuesdays require navels come out
According to their 2012 etiquette agreement, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders risk being fined $10 if they do not wear clothes that reveal their belly buttons on Tuesdays. At the Raiders, “two-piece Tuesdays” required a two-piece outfit. In order to qualify, it also had to reveal their belly buttons.
Next: This handbook even dictated this very private practice.
7. The team told them how to use a tampon
In their handbook, the Buffalo Jills allegedly tell their members how to properly use a tampon. “When menstruating, use a product that [is] right for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus. A product left in too long can cause bacteria or fungus build-up. Products can be changed at least every 4 hours. Except when sleeping, they can be left in for the night.” Thanks for that, team.
Next: Curly girls especially suffered under this restrictive rule.
8. Straightening her hair ate up this cheerleader’s salary
A member of the Jets Flight Crew said that the team “required her to wear her hair straight, which in turn required her to see a hair stylist each week, at an approximate cost of $45 per styling.” Given low salaries, that means she could have taken home little to no money. According to an ESPN Magazine article, Raiderettes could “find yourself with no salary at all at the end of the season.”
Next: This rule book told NFL cheerleaders how to do these basic functions.
9. The team doesn’t trust the Jills to eat or wash correctly.
The Buffalo Jills manual even explained how to eat. “If you are served pasta, never cut it to eat,” the manual read. “Twirl a small portion on your fork with the assistance of a spoon.” Jills also received instructions on how often to brush their teeth and wash their faces. It helpfully said, “Make-up left in the creases of your skin creates early wrinkles.”
Next: This team literally wants its cheerleaders to look perfect.
10. Yes, cheerleaders should appear perfect at all times
The Raiders actually demands their cheerleaders look perfect all the time. The handbook says, “It is imperative that whenever you leave your home you look ‘put-together’ so when someone recognizes you (and they will), they can say, ‘Raiderettes always look fabulous.’” It cited celebrities who get photographed looking less than stellar saying, “Cell phone cameras are everywhere — be camera-ready!”
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