Here in the South they start the cheerleading phenomenon pretty darn early, which I suppose is like anything else, really, except the whole screaming spirit and pom pom shaking in a short skirt and pigtails at the ripe young age of 3 seems like overkill.
Okay, okay. I know cheerleading has come a very long way, and to be fair, I've watched my fair share of competitions in awe of the amazing talent that these girls (and dudes) posess. I've never been able to do a handstand without crumpling to the ground in a big heap of weak body parts, so for that, I give many props.
Or stag jumps.
But I have to admit, that there's a big part of me that wonders why these parents don't channel that energy, enthusiasm, and athletic skill into, say, athletics?
Cheerleading started out as an all male activity (who knew?), but quickly turned into a predominantly female activity due to the dearth of female collegiate sports for women.
And while it was originally aimed at rallying the crowd, which in many cases it still does, it's seen mostly at male sporting events, with women being held high above the crowds holding big horns and signs or being tossed into the air doing splits.
And is it me or are the outfits getting smaller and more belly revealing?
The truth is, I can appreciate the abilities these girls have, as well as the way this activity has become much more than something cute on the sidelines, and yet, I still feel as though it perpetuates negative stereotypes of women regardless of whether it's part of our country's tradition and heritage or not; at its very basic core, cheerleading is rallying the crowds at male sporting events.
Why not gymnastics? Or a dance team? Or basketball? Or the slew of other equally expensive activities for girls?
Granted, if my girls (or boy) wanted to be a cheerleader, I'd support their choice (which seems to be the difference I suppose, at least in how I rationalize this whole thing - them choosing versus parents choosing).
And if that's the biggest challenge I face with them, then I'll consider that a blessing. I mean, they could want to do beauty pageants.
But that doesn't mean they'll all get a well-prepared women's history lesson while I'm buying stock in nude tights and corker ribbons.