Laker Girls

The Laker Girls.

On Thursday night I stayed up to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals: the L.A. Lakers vs. the Boston Celtics. My basketball knowledge concerning the NBA has never been strong, but I enjoy watching certain players like Kobe Bryant since what they bring onto the court can be so inspirational; they really plaster their hearts onto the paint when playing.

Both teams were playing fiercely and in the final minutes the point difference was still small. Each coach was using their time-outs wisely to organize plays and pep-talk their team. I noticed that the channel didn’t cut to commercials because the time-out minutes were too short. So instead, they put on prolonged shots of the Laker Girls, bouncing, dancing and waving around yellow banners. I decided to do a little research

Turns out these are some amazing women. Most of them have university degrees or are attending, and a surprising number of them are not just studying dance or performing arts. Many are studying communications, public relations, or biology. One is a registered nurse and another a certified sommelier. These are a colourful group of women who are healthy, smart, and accomplished.

However, on television, they all looked like manufactured barbies and even on the Lakers’ site, some of their pics looked so touched up. I enjoyed reading their profiles, about their fitness knowledge, and blog posts. Most of them sounds really passionate about dancing and on television, they looked like they were having fun.

I later expressed my thoughts to a friend of mine, Hanaly:

“These women are intelligent and beautiful, but I can’t help but feel they are boxing themselves into a stereotype of the porcelain female body. Most of them are quite muscular, and for example, Veronica, one of the girls, even plays basketball. So, why isn’t she on a team? Because of the system?”

Hanaly was boiling water for mate and listening to me. I enjoy debating with her and respect her knowledge on the feminist movement here in Buenos Aires. She listened as I continued getting fired up:

“I believe that in any type of feminist movement, this type of woman needs to be included. They can’t just be labelled as the ‘skinny girls’ and defaulted as enemies. They are part of the image of being a woman and I think it is an unfair to just exclude them. I think it will also end up being harmful if any impact is desired on younger generations.”

Now Hanaly spoke:

“The thing is Cinthia, these women represent a certain image of the female form that reminds us of only one thing…prostitution.”

She was kinda right; all their matching cute uniforms and the way they were presented. On television they make them look all the same. Only online, after reading about them, could I see them as distinct individuals. I wasn’t ready to give up on the argument:

“But this representation of the female form will always exist. As a feminist, we have to accept all women, doesn’t matter their body types. I feel we are alienating younger generations more by excluding certain body types that we decide are ‘anti-feminist’.”

Hanaly nodded. We started talking about body types in society and how on television there is a greater range of male body types. For the female, it is a bit more limited. These representations of the body are ever-changing, but I believe it is important, especially for the younger generations, to create acceptance of all body types.

I was left wondering if the Laker Girls are role models or not. Maybe it is just the NBA system I should be frustrated with and not these women who all seem to love their job. More than 500 women tried out to be a Laker Girl, and how many girls are on the squad now? 21.

Both images from this post taken from http://www.nba.com.


What do you think about the Laker Girls?

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4 responses to “Laker Girls

  1. I don’t think feminism excludes ANY body types. In the feminist group I am in, most of the younger women have bodies very similar to the Laker Girls. The difference is the processing of that body.

    I do agree that inclusion instead of exclusion is the answer, but I think the argument here is a false dichotomy: Those feminists are excluding so many potential feminists for being skinny and beautiful!

    This argument seems like apologizing to the mainstream for liking those bodies. The Laker girls are supposed to be sexy, they are there to turn people on. Men do this when they are male strippers or pin-ups. I think the prostitution analogy is apt, and I think that feminism damn better well accept hookers and whoever else comes along.

    I would rather modify the argument to this:

    1) In public spaces, the images of females that we see are overwhelmingly similar to the Laker Girls and there are paltry few who look like my mom or like you or like Venus Williams.

    2) Feminists do, and should, actively promote the INCLUSION of other body types and styles into the visual landscape.

    3) If fighting tooth and nail to get up to 15% or 25% of the images of women to be a different type than a Laker girl represents a form of discrimination on the part of feminists, and has to be called out and squashed, we are lost because to remedy the unfair exclusion of Laker girl types of women, we would have to increase the visibility of young, thin, artificially tanned, artificially hair-colored, made up, augmented and barely clothed female forms onto TV and Print. As if we didn’t already see a DISPROPORTIONAL number of those body types.

    In fact, as a feminist, I would vote FOR a proportional representation of women’s bodies, i.e. see a Laker Girl type as often in print as on the street. Sounds fair to me.

    • Hey Charlotte,
      Yeah, some sort of regulations about mass media’s use of the female body would be nice. It is so brainwashing sometimes walking down Santa Fe, or Cabildo, or Triunvirato and see one underwear model after another. I’m not saying they should be taken out completely..but a little bit less? And maybe another body type put up there. I would even say do the same for the male models, even though I get the sensation that there are less images of males.

      I know Dove had a great campaign to promote different body types for women, but it needs to be done more actively..not once in awhile for some products.

      Everything you say makes sense…you are really great at solidifying the argument. Teach me! Thanks for the comment.

  2. I knew on of the dancers on the Rockets in Houston. The Laker Girls may be different but the Rock-ets were paid close to nothing, along with the NFL Texan Dancers. It was almost as if they were volunteering. They also had multiple mandatory public appearances and community service projects. I was told a lot of them do it for the exposure and experience, a hopeful stepping stone to go on and do something that would later pay their bills in entirety. It doesn’t surprise me that these women are *moving and shaking more than just what you see at halftime and time outs.

    *making things happen for themselves

    PS. Liking the posts. Keep up the good work!

    • That’s interesting Pat. You’d think they’d get paid well..I mean, it’s the Lakers. Maybe I should go out and interview one of these girls. Or the Argentine cheerleader equivalent..Thanks for the comment!

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