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A collegiate cheerleader in a standard uniform.

A cheerleader is a member of an organized, uniformed group that typically appears at a variety of sporting events. Their function is to entertain the spectators with choreographed acrobatic and dance routines during lulls in the action of the main event, as well as to address them with a series of rhythmic chants and yells meant to encourage them to cheer as well.

Although the tradition of cheerleading began in the United States and is predominantly an American institution, its worldwide popularity has spread throughout the years and cheerleading squads can today be seen at the athletic spectacles of many overseas nations (in the U.K. they are called cheergirls).

While males are eligible to participate in many cheerleading squads, the makeup of a typical squad is overwhelmingly female and cheerleading tends to be viewed as a gender-specific female activity.

Also, although professional cheerleading squads exist, cheerleading has its greatest popularity and recognition as a scholastic or university sponsored activity.


The traditional female cheerleading uniform consists of any of a variety of tops (including a sweater, tee, vest, tank or halter) typically emblazoned with a design incorporating the school or team name and colors. This is usually combined with a pleated or flared miniskirt, which matches the top and is often multicolored with a pattern of vertical stripes, or perhaps one contrasting horizontal stripe at or near the hem of the skirt. Beneath the skirt is usually worn a pair of regulation full-cut, heavily-knitted colored briefs of nylon or rayon fabric, called spanky pants. Athletically styled knee or ankle length socks and a pair of tennis shoes complete the ensemble.

Eroticism and sex appeal[edit]

Skimpy uniforms (plus go-go boots) exploited for maximum sex appeal.
Anime drawing of a character in a cheerleader uniform.

A cheerleading uniform is a popular choice for women to wear as a fetish/fantasy costume in sexual or erotic play scenarios. Like the traditional schoolgirl uniform which it resembles, the cheerleading outfit’s combination of a relatively prim and formal overall effect with a startlingly short, playfully-styled skirt suggests a mixture of innocence and raw sex appeal.

Additionally, the uniform may hold for the male participant an association with his adolescent years, when the cheerleaders who attended his school were typically among the most attractive and desirable of those among his fellow female students, and therefore may have been a common subject of his earliest sexual fantasies.

Also adding to the erotic mystique surrounding the cheerleader is the fact that typical cheerleading routines consist of such activities as high kicks, jumps, falls, tumbles and cartwheels; during the course of which it is common for her nether undergarments to become repeatedly put on full display as her abbreviated, loose skirt tends to fly up frequently during her exertions. This casual exposure is often to the delight and titillation of the young (and young-at-heart) male spectators among her audience, in spite of the relative modesty of the briefs worn, considering the otherwise prevailing social taboos against the public display of underwear of any kind (see panty shot).

Sexy cheerleader scene from the film The Replacements.

A woman wearing a cheerleading uniform in the context of an erotic adult situation will usually eschew the traditional athletic briefs formally worn beneath the skirt in favor of somewhat less substantial underwear ranging from regular everyday panties to exotic lingerie. However, the regulation oversize briefs may be retained in an effort to preserve the authenticity of the overall costume. She may also add or substitute other accouterments to the uniform such as additional erotic wear or S&M paraphernalia (for example, combining a cheerleading skirt with a leather bustier).

Exploitation films and pornography[edit]

By the early 1970s, the cheerleader was firmly established as an American icon of wholesome sex appeal. At the same time, R-rated adult films (packed with nudity and simulated sex scenes) were introduced to mainstream theaters and drive-ins. Thus, cheerleaders – along with nurses, teachers, stewardesses, and high school/college schoolgirls – became the inspiration for a new subgenre of lurid sexploitation films. Dozens of low-brow, low-budget sex comedies and nudie-horror films were quickly churned out such as The Cheerleaders (1972), The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974), Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1975), The Pom Pom Girls (1976), Satan's Cheerleaders (1977), Cheerleaders's Wild Weekend (1979), Gimmie an 'F' (1984), and Cheerleader Camp, aka Bloody Pom Poms (1988).

In the 2000s, mainstream cheerleader comedies and comedy-dramas had a resurgence in popularity with Bring It On (2000) – plus four direct-to-video sequels: Bring It On Again (2003), Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006), Bring It On: In It to Win It (2007), and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (2009) – as well as Sugar & Spice (2001), Cheerleader Autopsy (2003), in which cheerleaders get paddled by their coach, Fired Up!, and the horror-comedy Jennifer's Body (both 2009).

Sexy cheerleaders have also been a constant staple of softcore and hardcore pornographic films, starting with Debbie Does Dallas (1978) and its four sequels. To date there are hundreds of adult sex films, spanking videos, and BDSM titles that have used the image of the uniformed cheerleader as a fetish object of sexual fantasy.

Cheerleaders in spanking[edit]

Cheerleading uniforms are sometimes worn by the female participant in adult spanking play scenarios. Such scenarios may be interchangeable with schoolgirl punishment scenes, due to the cheerleader uniform having associations with an academic setting. Additionally the reason for the punishment may involve the infraction of rules which are specific to the imagined cheerleading squad the woman is pretending to be a member of. Also like the schoolgirl uniform, cheerleading outfits may be donned for a domestic ageplay scenario.

Selected films[edit]

Main article: Cheerleaders in films

In adult fantasy films, the cheerleader is second only to the uniformed schoolgirl in popularity. Cheerleader squads are often portrayed as lesbians who live together, shower together, and sometimes discipline each other or engage in spanking initiation rituals. Erotic fetish films are often set in a school environment, especially a locker room or administrative office, where corporal punishment is meted out by a coach, teacher, or principal.

There are also many domestic stories that take place at home where a parent or other relative punishes one or more cheerleaders for misbehaving or getting bad grades at school. BDSM videos often feature an innocent cheerleader character who is abducted and dragged off to a nefarious dungeon setting. At least one spanking video producer, Cheerleader Spankings, is wholly devoted to this sub-genre. Amsterdam-based Spanked In Uniform also produces a series called The Rockford School of Dance which features cheerleaders.

Below is a select list of mostly fetish films in rough chronilogical order from oldest to most recent.

Cheerleader scene from the comedy Not Another Teen Movie.

Cheerleader performance, "Glee" TV series.
USC Cheerleaders

See also[edit]