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“The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders”: being a cheerleader, a “not so glamorous” job


Blue shirt tied under the chest, short vest decorated with stars, tiny white shorts and matching boots: the uniform of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC), the cheerleaders who support the American football team of the same name, is extremely famous in the United States.

For some young American women, being able to one day wear this outfit is a dream that deserves all the sacrifices. The position requires you to be an excellent athlete and dancer, but also beautiful and photogenic, comfortable in front of the cameras.

For a season, director Greg Whiteley followed the DCC squad, from the selections to the final match. The result, America’s Sweethearts. The “cheerleaders” of the Dallas Cowboys, has been available on Netflix since June 20.

From the American dream to reality

Greg Whiteley (Cheer, Last Chance U) has the trademark of making “sports documentaries that meditate on the immense distance that separates the American dream of meritocracy and a reality marked by inequalities, vain efforts and wasted talent”, observes Judy Berman, the magazine’s TV critic Time.

The same is true in his new series, seven episodes long. Kelcey, Victoria or Reece certainly belong to a famous troupe. But they also work for an organization “intended to celebrate male athletes and pander to the machismo of fans, which means their lives are nowhere near as glamorous as they seem”.

The nickname given to the DCC, “America’s Sweethearts”, says it all. We would never expect Dallas Cowboys footballers, in addition to their performances on the field, to “satisfy all fans’ fantasies”, plague Judy Berman. However, the DCCs must also be “nice substitute granddaughters for the residents of the retirement homes where we see them go (in performance), models for the little girls who idolize them, beautiful girls for guys from all walks of life”.

Inequalities and perpetual sacrifice

And the salary is without comparison, which Charlotte Jones, daughter of the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and responsible for the associated brand, freely admits on screen: “They don’t get paid much. But the fact is that they don’t come for the money. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders take the field, dressed in their iconic outfit.  Some of them will have to have hip surgery at the end of their career, a maximum of five years long: the multiplication of landings in splits, one of their favorite figures, takes a toll on their bodies.
The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders take the field, dressed in their iconic outfit. Some of them will have to have hip surgery at the end of their career, a maximum of five years long: the multiplication of landings in splits, one of their favorite figures, takes a toll on their bodies. Netflix photo

Low pay, long working hours, vulnerability to sexual assault, injunction to self-effacement: all of this has the effect of Time a little air of déjà vu. “Becoming an NFL cheerleader represents the ultimate female vocation, in the same way – and with the same disadvantages – as personal care or teaching. It’s no surprise that many of the team members earn their living working in healthcare during the day.”

“America’s Sweethearts does not blame his subjects for accepting to be treated so badly”, warns the journalist. But the series poses ultimately the following question: why does a woman who excels in a predominantly female profession agree to “sacrifice to infinity” to live your passion?

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