High School Cheerleaders Want to Show Less Skin

A half-dozen Bridgeport (Conn.) Central High School cheerleaders appeared before the city's board of education recently to protest the team's new $77 midriff-baring uniforms - which they wore to the meeting. They asked board members how they would feel if their daughters wore something similar and requested the board's support against the outfits (which the girls say they did not see prior to ordering). "It really hurts our self-esteem," senior Ariana Mesaros said in a voice that the Connecticut Post described as hoarse from cheering the night before. "I am embarrassed to stand up here dressed like this. Is this really how you want Bridgeport to be represented?"

In most cases, according to reporter Linda Conner, the ill-fitting tops appeared to be too small, exposing the girls' midriffs, and their warm-up sweats seemed to be several sizes too big. The tops also violate the National Federation of State High School Associations' 2010-11 spirit rules, which stipulate that "when standing at attention, apparel must cover the midriff."

Denise Clemons, Bridgeport Public Schools' assistant superintendent of high schools, told Conner that the uniforms were based on the sizes the students gave last spring, and she speculated that perhaps the cut of the material ran small or the girls' sizes had changed since they were measured. She emphasized that only a handful of the 19-member squad had complained. "This had all been addressed before them going to the board," she said. City athletic director James Denton added that the district would purchase black bodysuits for the girls to wear underneath their uniforms.

In June, University of South Carolina researchers presented a college cheerleaders are at high risk for body-image issues and eating disorders, stemming in part from revealing uniforms.

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