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.
What do you think about the Laker Girls?