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Ex-NFL Cheerleader Details Harsh Requirements

Baltimore Ravens can't gain any weight, and must make sure to stay tan
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2014 11:40 AM CST
Ex-NFL Cheerleader Details Harsh Requirements
The Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Houston Texans in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – In case the story of the Raiderette who only makes $5 an hour wasn't enough to convince you that NFL cheerleading is not a great career path, Deadspin talks to a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader who makes the job sound even worse—and passed along a "Rules and Regulations" document. When she was on the team in 2009 (and her friends still on the team say not much has changed):

  • Cheerleaders were weighed at the beginning of each season and benched if they gained any weight.
  • Cheerleaders were also expected to maintain a hair and makeup standard throughout the season; even with a 50% salon discount, that could cost roughly $1,000.
  • Great hair-related line from the document: "Curlers and any other offensive personal effects must never be worn to games, practices, or personal appearances."

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  • Cheerleaders were also required to "have a warm skin color tone for every gameday," which meant fairer cheerleaders had to go to the tanning salon.
  • Cheerleaders had to buy at least 100 copies of the annual swimsuit calendar for $12 each; they could then sell them for $15 each to make a few bucks.
  • There were also strict rules about social networking; any other opportunities, like modeling or acting, had to be approved; and it was rare to be allowed to miss practice for any reason.
And all of this was done for peanuts: Cheerleaders got $100 to $125 for home games, an equivalent of $7.14 per hour when practices were taken into account; they now make $7.75 per hour (minimum wage). And they sometimes made about $50 per hour while doing appearances, but there aren't many of those per season, and some don't pay at all. So why do it? Deadspin's source describes the experience as basically a hobby, not a job, and says for most cheerleaders, the excitement of gameday is worth it. (And apparently some teams' cheerleaders have it better; Redskins cheerleaders apparently get their hair done for free.) Click for the full piece. (Read more cheerleaders stories.)

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