The University of Washington (UoW) was forced to remove a cheerleading infographic on Tuesday after causing widespread social media backlash.

The image was released to provide hair and makeup tips for prospective cheerleading candidates before the university’s upcoming cheer-team try-outs. The graphic advised women to wear a “bronze, beachy glow” and to be “physically fit” with an “athletic physique”, while urging them to avoid “slicked back hair” and “tops that cover the midriff”.

The graphic, featuring a photo of a suitably “bronzed”, midriff-bearing blonde, was uploaded to Facebook by UoW’s cheerleading team on Monday night, four days before try-outs for the Huskie junior team.

The Seattle Times published a report on the advice and accompanying image following immediate social media repercussions. The infographic – modelled on similar posts from Washington State University and Louisiana State University – was subsequently removed by 9a.m. Tuesday morning.

“I can’t believe this is real,” Jazmine Perez, a UoW student and director of programming for student government told The Seattle Times.

“One of the first things that comes to mind is objectification and idealisation of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” she said. “As a student of colour who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.”

One Seattle resident, Clay Thompson, went as far as the call the image racist, claiming the picture is “offensive, exclusionary and ignorant. Those are not values of Seattle or Puget Sound community.” He then posted the graphic on his own Facebook profile “to ensure that the University of Washington addresses the overt racism (I know there’s more, but let’s start there) in the ad.”

One Facebook commenter wrote: “False lashes and not nude lips, but don’t wear too much makeup …? So conflicting. And why so much focus on the ‘right’ makeup, hair, clothes and nails for a try-out?”

Another contributor stated: “When I was a cheerleader we worked so hard to be considered a sport. This infographic goes against what we fought for. We don’t ask the same of any other athletes. And really no ponytails??”

Representatives from UoW’s athletics department claim the image was produced in response the amount of enquiries they had received regarding the upcoming try-outs.

According to The Seattle Times, the graphic was taken down after it was “determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”

Image via Flickr.

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