The Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders unveiled a new, less revealing uniform this week the team says breaks “traditional stereotypes” of cheer attire and are more conducive to their use — dancing.
The uniforms are one-piece dresses, longer than the squad’s traditional skirts, and show less skin, including no bare midriffs. The squad will start wearing the new look for the 2019 season.
“This new approach is designed to elevate the Colts cheerleaders as one of the top cheer and dance squads in the NFL by departing from many of the stereotypes often associated with professional cheerleading and redefining what it means to be a cheerleader and an athlete-performer,” the Colts said in a statement.
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At least one expert in gender equity isn’t convinced the uniforms are much of a change.
“I’m not sure what ‘traditional stereotypes’ they feel they are breaking with a skintight mini-dress, but it is true that it shows less skin and less cleavage,” said Lisa A. Pellerin, director of women and gender studies at Ball State. “I suppose that’s an improvement from the standpoint of gender equality.”
The uniforms are just one part of a bigger movement in what the Colts are calling the “Next Chapter” for its cheerleaders.
The team says after 35 years in Indianapolis, there will be “a new direction, a new uniform and new opportunities,” for the cheerleaders, something that is a first for an NFL squad. The Colts also referred to the women as “athlete performers.”
“Like every part of the Colts organization, our cheerleaders strive to be the best in the NFL,” said Kalen Jackson, Colts vice chair and owner, in a statement. “As we close the chapter on 35 seasons, we have an opportunity to look toward the next 35 years and beyond, take our squad to the next level and inspire the next generation of Colts cheerleaders and fans.”
Auditions for next season’s squad will take place in March. Highlights of the cheerleading program moving forward, according to the Colts, include:
>> A renewed focus on showcasing the athleticism, talent and character of the athlete-performers.
>> A new educational and professional development program, which will include a stipend for development opportunities and expanded personal growth opportunities.
>> Expanded community service experiences
>> An expanded Junior Cheer program that includes dance and development opportunities for preschoolers through age 14.
At the Colts game Sunday against the Giants, cheerleaders danced in their career attire, to highlight their professional lives outside the squad.
“We have cheerleaders who are nurses, engineers, students, mothers and small business owners outside of performing,” Jackson added. “It’s important for our fans to know our cheerleaders are well-rounded and accomplished professionals.”
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