All-Star Varsity Fashionistas

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Apr 14, 2017
Varsity is releasing their annual “fashionista” selections again. It’s all over IG. And once again, a vast majority of the kids chosen are white/blonde.

Does this bother anyone else? I just can’t get over how literally everyone looks the same, save for a few brunettes. We have so many kids of all different types in cheer, but this white/blonde nonsense is so ubiquitous that it looks like Varsity is actively ignoring anyone who doesn’t fall in that particular box (I’m not saying that IS the case, I’m just saying that’s what it looks like). And yeah, I know they’ve had a couple POC models in the past, but I can literally only think of two who’ve been prominently featured in the VSF/VAS catalogs.

Not to mention they photoshop those kids to the point where the look cartoonish. They’re teenagers; they don’t need it.

Anyway, I would’ve hoped that Varsity would’ve realised by now how outdated and irrelevant these casting decisions make them look. Especially with Rebel out there catering to all looks and body types (they’ve got a model with alopecia, a few with special needs, some plus-size... Varsity would NEVER).

Maybe I’m just in a whiny mood. But every time another “Congratulations fashionista so-and-so!” pops up on my IG feed, I think, “Don’t they already have like sixteen blonde Hailey’s?”
While I congratulate the ladies/guys (haven't seen a guy yet, but I am giving them the benefit of doubt), I would definitely like to see Varsity show how diverse our sport really is. Race, body size, hair color, sex, etc should be represented to the fullest extent.

Long gone are the days of cheer being a popularity contest. It is about athleticism, inclusion and giving back to your community. And needs to be represented as such.
Sort of ETA: I know I just sang Rebel’s praises and I do think they’re good at prioritizing diversity, but I have to add I’m always a little disappointed by their decision to constantly feature a certain blonde/white CA athlete at the forefront of all their campaigns every year. From what I’ve seen, she’s a talented, popular athlete who was probably hired for her clout as well as her look. And that’s great. More power to her. But Rebel’s insistence on nearly idolizing her every year makes me feel like they’re saying, “Diversity is all well and good, but THIS is how you REALLY wanna look, kids: WHITE!!!!1!!”

Add to this that Rebel already has a model whose look is way better suited for a diversity campaign — the one whose hair color changes every year — and it just confuses me a little. Rebel has made great strides in highlighting diversity in their catalogs, but when it comes to choosing their covergirl, they relapsed into the safe, obvious choice. Just a little disappointing.

This is not a statement toward the CA athlete personally. She’s a perfectly cute girl with a promising career in fitness modeling ahead of her if she wants it. But ultimately, she’s just another blonde white girl modeling cheer uniforms meant for all kinds of kids, the vast majority of which probably look nothing like her. And this time it’s more egregious because she represents a company whose motto has been “We’re different!” from the jump. When in reality, their espousal of her as the face of their brand just seems like more of the same.
While I don’t spend a lot of time looking at cheer catalogs (any really...I just buy what the gym custom orders) and I completely agree with having diversity among the models regarding ethnicity and gender (don’t they sell male uniforms? why on earth wouldn’t the have male models?) I am going to throw myself under the pc bus by saying I can see why they don’t use plus size models. They are selling clothing, specific performance fitness attire to mostly gyms and coaches. Buyers need to compare the lines and silhouettes of the uniforms to each other. That’s best done using a standard size. It’s not meant to bash other sizes...but they are selling clothes, not providing self-esteem boosts to the general population. Personally, I am completely distracted when I see ad campaigns featuring all different sized, real folks modeling clothes. I start thinking about the PEOPLE, not the clothing, and it doesn’t particularly make me interested in buying. I feel the same about models who have hair that isn’t the color of hair in nature (i.e. pink, blue, whatever.) Nothing wrong with it in real life, but doesn’t help me buy outfits.
Just my probably un-pc opinion, although I really don’t feel it is bc I know my heart. Also, it’s not like I’m a model myself so... :)
I'd love to see a picture for at least the main uniform designs showing how it works on a range of sizes. You can't make an all girl team of just little, tiny girls. You need tall girls who are great backspots and strong girls who are awesome bases and power tumblers-and if the skirt doesn't stay down or really doesn't look good on girls with really muscular legs, or the top doesn't cover a bra, or the skirt is super short on a tall girl even if she has +1 added, that's something that is helpful to know.
I don't think the application pool is the problem, I think they know where their bread is buttered... These are a lot of big name girls from big name gyms (or big name families) that keep owners and parents happy and loyal to Varsity. They know these big gyms are getting hit from all sides with free offers from other companies, and this is one way to keep them in Varsity.
I don't think the application pool is the problem, I think they know where their bread is buttered... These are a lot of big name girls from big name gyms (or big name families) that keep owners and parents happy and loyal to Varsity. They know these big gyms are getting hit from all sides with free offers from other companies, and this is one way to keep them in Varsity.

I absolutely agree with this. And while presenting a range of "looks" could help to grow the sport (long term), I think they are focused on what is making them the most money right now (short term).

My particular look is rarely represented in print media but I've gotten used to that. I would find it more helpful and useful to see a range of bodies like DonnaM said. Its more important to know that the top doesn't ride up and show the bigger girls bellies, or that the taller girls won't have to wear a double layer of booty shorts so their cheeks aren't showing.
Not arguing against diversity here but the Varsity Fashionista thing is an application based program so its possible the applicant pool isn't too diverse to begin with.

I considered that. I used to work tangentially on The Real World and one of the biggest complaints we got was that we never cast anyone of Asian descent (except for Jamie from San Diego and maybe like two others). But the reason for that was: we never had any Asian applicants. They just didn’t apply. I’m not going to make a blanket statement about the culture to explain why or how... that’s just what I saw during my time there. Their contingent in the application pool was next to non-existent. They. Did. Not. G. A. F.

That said, I don’t think that’s the case here. We see lots of different kids involved in cheer and I have to think the application pool reflects that. But even if there were very few nonwhite applicants, I’d think Varsity would’ve made it a priority to feature them more, but less. Not necessarily to highlight diversity, but to ensure their lineup doesn’t look completely interchangeable. Like it does right now.

When we cast The Real World, we only had seven spots available to make the entire audience feel included/interested. And we didn’t always get it right, but we tried. Varsity appears to have about twenty spots and they’ve filled them with girls who are mostly facsimiles of each other. They’re like the Jersey Shore of cheer casting: picking carbon copy kids whose names you can only remember by the infinitesimal differences in their hair color.
Varsity Spirit - All Star Fashionistas

I'll preface this by saying I agree the group lacks cheer's true level of diversity. With that said, I looked up the requirements on the application for the photo shoots:

"Photo shoots will be held August through December in Dallas, TX and New York, NY. All expenses for the models will be paid by Varsity including model flights, hotels and meals. Models are fully chaperoned throughout all trips by Varsity employees. Parents do not attend any of the photoshoot sets, but may elect to travel at their own expense to photoshoots."

I can't speak for other parents, and I'm not judging other parents, but I wouldn't have been comfortable with my kids being chaperoned by an employee of ANY company. Which leads me to the fact that I would not be willing to travel at my own expense for a photo shoot either. I wonder how many applicants they truly have with that stipulation.
I can understand why leaving kids with unfamiliar Varsity chaperones would make some parents uncomfortable, but I think Varsity is banking on the fact that they’re like THE cheer company to make parents feel better about it. Plus, remember that this is the same company that does the holiday trips wherein they’re responsible for flying hundreds of kids to Europe and back (my sister and I did it in London and Paris). Also, I think this is where hiring cheer-lebrities is valuable for them: “Well if CSP is letting her kid do it...”

But I get why parents aren’t allowed in the photo shoots. It’s why we have closed tryouts. Some kids are self-conscious around their parents. And some parents are completely unmanageable in an environment like that.
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