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Stop the OHS Cheer Squad's use of "No One Ugly Allowed" as a motto.

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We write in reference to Oswego High School’s 2017-18 yearbook entry for the Competitive Cheer Squad. The squad's page shows a picture with the caption “No One Ugly Allowed.” This slogan comes from the 2006 song “Fashionistas” by Jimmy James, that the team coaches chose to bolster confidence and inspire the team toward excellence, both on and off the mat. We, the undersigned, raise the following concerns. 

First, this choice of slogan and song misses the mark for bolstering excellence.  While the young women are inspired, the question is, to what are they inspired? To be sure, fashionistas, as a cultural icon, are fierce. But their power comes from something ephemeral. To attach excellence to “not ugly” fails to acknowledge the training and hard work that goes into preparing for competition. It fails to recognize that this sport requires that precision and physicality be accomplished with grace and beauty. What is beautiful about this activity is a result of the young women’s hard work.

Second, the decision to allow this to go to print in the most recent yearbook is troubling. The yearbook is a location for highlighting and celebrating the best that a school can be. Although this slogan has become meaningful for the young women on the squad, it presents them as arrogant, snobbish, and conceited. The irony is that these qualities represent an ugliness that the team hoped to offset. The yearbook advisors failure to edit this out establishes this perception for posterity. Allowing this to go to print denigrates the team by implying that the most important thing about them as individuals and as a team is that they were “not ugly.” Again, rather than highlighting the excellence they deserve, this presentation fosters a malignant elitism rooted in the ephemeral.

Finally, the audience for this page is not just those who made the team, but also those who didn’t. This presentation sends an implicit message about those who didn’t make the squad. Presumably, tryouts were based on talent and skill, not physical beauty. However, this slogan implies that those who were cut were deemed “ugly.” Allowing this to go to print renders the district’s efforts to curb bullying obsolete.

As members of this community, we stand in support of the young women on the squad. Our concerns focus on the choices of the coaches and advisors tasked to mold these fierce competitors into future leaders. We strongly encourage the coaching staff to foster the level of excellence indicated in the OHS Cheerleading Constitution, which emphasizes responsibility, positive attitude, and a display of character that represents our school in a most favorable light. The Fashionista, as a cultural icon, while fierce, does not represent these qualities. We urge the coaching staff to dispense with this strategy for rallying confidence and excellence. We ask that the yearbook advisors answer for their failure to edit out this tasteless and denigrating presentation of the Competitive Cheer Squad. We call upon the school board to demand better from the coaches and advisors of our school.

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