Monday, September 22, 2014

Square peg in a round hole...

Growing up, I was not an athlete. I chose choir, drama, writing for the yearbook & the honor society over basketball, softball or cheerleading. It was a world I didn't understand. Instead, I rode my bike, played outside, went roller skating every Tuesday night with church friends & my sister, played badminton in the summer in our backyard and took gymnastics class at the Rec Center.  My dream was to be a figure skater or a horseback rider. Both of those sports involved lots of money. They also are sports designed for smaller frames. Without being told, I could see that didn't fit into those sports. Though short, I'm not slight. I could see I didn't measure up (or down) to those sports' standards.

Recently I watched part of a "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team" episode.  It horrified me to watch as one very talented cheerleader was cut from the team because she is "stocky" and couldn't "wear the uniform" like the other girls. Seeing this girl dance, there was no denying that she has the talent, the energy & the passion to do this job. She was "fired" because she is shorter and curvier than other girls. Notice this: she is not overweight. She is fit. She is athletic. The complaint against her is that her body isn't made for the Cowboy cheerleader uniform.

Does it strike anyone else as INSANE that the criteria for this sport, this job is a piece of clothing?! You can be talented. You can be knowledgeable about the sport. You can be a great fit with the rest of the team. You can be a punctual & respectable. You can be a dynamic performer. And you will still get fired.

What if the measure of a human was their ability? Their spirit? Their kindness? Their intelligence? 
What if we altered a uniform to fit the unique bodies that house that talent?
What if we steered our young girls towards sports that match their ability rather than change them to fit the sport?
What if I had embraced my size when I was younger, and rather than criticize myself for not looking like a figure skater or a cheerleader, I used my strong legs and backside to kickbox, or run a soccer ball, or powerlift?

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