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underthecity
04-22-2010, 07:35 PM
In the new story I'm working on, the MC is a 17 year old high school sophomore, average person, good student, is in band, and unpopular.

She's also overweight.

In an effort to be liked by her peers and possibly gain some popularity, some day run for student council, she wants to try out for cheerleading.

It's pointed out to her that all the cheerleaders at her school are "skinny girls."

But she moves with grace, and when she was a kid she had ballerina lessons. She's also memorized all the cheerleader moves and is confident she is as good as any of them. She also believes that an overweight girl in cheerleading could set some kind of new trend.

The MC is not skinny. I have her at fifty pounds right now. She is dieting, watching what she eats, but losing the weight is hard.

One of her motivations in this story is social acceptance, which she is finding difficult, even though she's like every other girl she knows.

Is fifty pounds too much? I'm a guy and I don't know much about the lives of cheerleaders, but I don't recall ever seeing any heavy ones.

Would a lesser weight be more realistic, say thirty pounds?

What do you think?

scarletpeaches
04-22-2010, 07:37 PM
So she weighs three and a half stones and she's overweight?

CheekyWench
04-22-2010, 07:39 PM
Do you mean fifty pounds over weight? Or she weighs fifty pounds? My 6 year old weighs almost 50 pounds. lol

scarletpeaches
04-22-2010, 07:40 PM
Or kilos? I have no idea about kilos. I still think in imperial measurements.

underthecity
04-22-2010, 07:40 PM
I meant fifty pounds overweight.

alleycat
04-22-2010, 07:42 PM
These days it might be like that girl on American Idol (I think it was AI). People's talent and personality sometimes shines through other people's typical perceptions.

On the other hand, thirty pounds for a 17-year-old girl does seem more reasonably for the plot.

ChaosTitan
04-22-2010, 07:42 PM
I think he means about fifty pounds over average weight.

Too much or not, though, depends on other things, like her height and bone structure. Fifty pounds overweight on a girl who's 5'3" is going to look and carry differently than if she's 5'10".

ink wench
04-22-2010, 07:45 PM
Too much or not, though, depends on other things, like her height and bone structure. Fifty pounds overweight on a girl who's 5'3" is going to look and carry differently than if she's 5'10".This.

Also, 17 is old for a sophomore. She should be about 15, maybe 16 depending on when her birthday is.

som1luvsmi
04-22-2010, 07:46 PM
I had friends who were cheerleaders who weren't skinny. They weren't grossly overweight, either. They were typically "spotters" during the stunts and on the bottom of the pyramids.

Seriously tiny girls were usually "flyers", the ones who would get tossed up in the air during stunts.

And in order to do the stunts and choreography, I would think 20-30 lbs. overweight is the most plausible.

CheekyWench
04-22-2010, 07:47 PM
This.

Also, 17 is old for a sophomore. She should be about 15, maybe 16 depending on when her birthday is.

Yeah, I was supposed to graduate at 17 if I hadn't tried the 5 year high school program. woopsie!

And yes, the height is also a factor too. Again with my history, I am 5'8 and at 17 I weighed 160ish pounds. I wasn't overweight at all for my frame (no matter how I felt about it then.)
The MC's self esteem could have a lot to do with it too.

underthecity
04-22-2010, 07:53 PM
She'd be about 5'7 or so. Not tiny, not tall, either.

And as I said, I know nothing about cheerleading.

And you know what? I screwed up when I said "sophomore." (Although in the story, she first tried out in her sophomore year, but that was before the story takes place.)

So, she is in fact a junior.

Regarding her self esteem, she know she's overweight, but is not happy about it. However, it doesn't stop her from trying out for things that she might not be good at. (Failing at the cheerleading tryouts pushes the story forward.)

WriteKnight
04-22-2010, 08:10 PM
As others have pointed out - cheerleading nowadays has a LOT to do with acrobatics and even gymnastics. It would be extremely difficult to perform many of the stunts they do - if you are overweight by fifty pounds. Hard to do - difficult on the 'spotters' and 'catchers'.

Something not addressed in your story - and it's different in different schools - is the actual SELECTION process for cheerleader. WHO gets to decide? WHAT is the process?

Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away - I was a cheerleader. We had tryouts in front of the entire student body - and then the student body got to VOTE. (At the time, you also had to run as a COUPLE - so you had to select a partner to tryout with - one male, one female cheerleader)

What is the procedure for YOUR story? Can she be voted in by the student body, despite not being able to perform the stunts? Does ONE person have a deciding vote (The Cheerleading 'sponsor'?)

What does your story NEED for the outcome?

underthecity
04-22-2010, 08:16 PM
WriteKnight,

Thanks for the response. To tell you the truth, I don't know how cheerleaders are selected, so for my story to work, it could be just about any kind of selection process.

The characters have already said the current cheerleaders were all skinny, and a few were pretty stuck up (except for one, who's a friend of the MC). The selection process could be the current group voting in the new ones, I have no idea. It might not work for the whole student body to be watching (making the MC a laughingstock, or something I don't quite want to happen).

Since you and others have mentioned "spotters and catchers," I would have to say that she is too big to be either one of these, and despite her enthusiasm and confidence, this one thing is out of her reach. But she tries regardless, because that's what kind of gal she is.

The outcome is that she does not make it in. She is upset by this, and feels that her weight was the deciding factor.

ChaosTitan
04-22-2010, 08:17 PM
As others have pointed out - cheerleading nowadays has a LOT to do with acrobatics and even gymnastics. It would be extremely difficult to perform many of the stunts they do - if you are overweight by fifty pounds. Hard to do - difficult on the 'spotters' and 'catchers'.

It depends on the size of the high school, too. My high school cheerleaders did pretty basic cheers. Some of them could manage basic backflips, most did cartwheels and such, and they did pyramids, but none of the crazy in-air gymnastics. They didn't compete as cheerleaders, they were there to support the football/basketball teams.

So the size of the school and the function of the squad is also something for the OP to consider.

veinglory
04-22-2010, 08:17 PM
I would have to agree that in most school the cheerleaders are not model thin. And some who are on the base are even noticeably on the chubby side. But it depends a bit on the school. Teams vary a lot on what they do and how they function socially.

Kitty Pryde
04-22-2010, 08:35 PM
I graduated HS in 2001. About half the cheerleaders on our school's squad were 25-50 pounds overweight. The whole squad just did the cheering and dancing, not the acrobatic stuff. And cheerleaders were not the 'popular kids' at the school, though my school was not cliquey. On a squad like that, your MC would stand a decent chance of getting in.

underthecity
04-22-2010, 09:33 PM
I appreciate the feedback, and this has been enlightening. I was sure I could just google image "high school cheerleaders," but for various reasons, I've been trying to avoid doing that. But the photos I've seen online of cheerleading teams show the girls in various body sizes.

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that at this particular school, the MC might not be welcome in the cheerleading squad due to her being overweight. HOWEVER, it could also be due to incompetence. Maybe she isn't as good and graceful as she thinks she is. Maybe she really can't do the basic moves required for her to qualify.

It's kind of like writing a book. You think you've written something publishable, but in fact, it's not ready.

I'll have to think about it.

WendyNYC
04-22-2010, 09:40 PM
I recently visited Disneyworld during the national cheerleading competition, and let me tell you, those girls all looked *exactly* the same. Seriously! It was like an army of perky clones with hair bows. Maybe if you have a very competitive squad with a history of winning these kind of competitions, they might be less welcoming of someone overweight.

ETA: Most of the girls I saw looked athletic rather than skinny.

DrZoidberg
04-22-2010, 09:48 PM
Sweden has no culture of cheer-leading at events, but we still have women who compete in it as a sport in itself. So I'm not sure how apt that is, but those girls are basically gymnasts. They've all got serious arm muscles and six packs.

CheyElizabeth
04-22-2010, 09:50 PM
About half of my HS cheerleaders were 'chubby'

I've been out of school for 5 years now, but I go to games occassionally, and there's still 4-5 cheerleaders who are definitely overweight. It seems to be the norm now.

Calla Lily
04-22-2010, 10:00 PM
Oh my aching heart. Who let you into my childhood?!

This is how it was for me in the mid 1970s: I was a fat kid. When I was 12 (and about 5' tall) the dr. put me on a strict diet and I lost 20 lbs. I went from fat kid to svelte kid and it was great.

Except I was still the nerd. In a small HS (450 kids max) where the only way to be popular was to be a cheerleader (females) or a basketball player (males). So I got the bright idea in my sophomore year that I'd try out for cheerleading and magically become popular. I am also not graceful, but, hey, cheerleading isn't ballroom dancing, right?

And people look at me funny when I say I'd sell my soul not to relive HS.

The most athletic our squad got was cartwheels and a 6-girl pyramid. No flips, nothing extreme. Standard cheers.

I wrote a cheer. I practiced with my friend who balanced between being popular and hanging out with us nerds--and who was a cheerleader. I had spirit! Spunk! Excitement! Enthusiasm!

I didn't make the squad. Not having the capacity to see the obvious, I tried out again the next year. I still remember going to my friend's house afterward and crying for what seemed like half an hour.

What a clueless nerdy outsider idiot I was.



If you were to see pics of me from HS, you'd probably think: Not bad looking; nice eyes. I looked in the mirror and still saw the girl who was so fat she couldn't wear a dress that came with a belt. Yet my weight was excellent then, and stayed that way till my second kid.

You're welcome to use any of this long-dead angst and sorrow.

underthecity
04-22-2010, 10:10 PM
Callalily, I may send you a PM with a few questions.

backslashbaby
04-22-2010, 10:20 PM
We had skinny or athletic girls only on our school's squad. And when one girl gained weight, all the whispers were how she should be pulled from the team.

Sometimes those movies are like real life!

I was on the kick team. 40 girls, and that's where a few pounds didn't matter, as long as you could high-kick and do splits :) No flying through the air required.

Calla Lily
04-22-2010, 10:38 PM
Callalily, I may send you a PM with a few questions.

My angst is your fodder. :)

Libbie
04-23-2010, 01:10 AM
One of the best and most popular cheer leaders in my high school was pretty close to fifty pounds heavier than the other girls. she was definitely round. She wasn't so big that she couldn't do all the moves just as well as everybody else, but she had a poochy tummy, a big bum, big boobs, large thighs, and a round face. She was also stunningly beautiful and all the boys had a crush on her in spite of the fact that she didn't have a perfect body (undoubtedly, they all liked her because she was naturally outgoing and confident enough that she'd try out for and excel at cheerleading.) By our senior year, or maybe before, she was the captain of the cheer squad.

She was a short girl, maybe 5'6", and I can't say how many pounds overweight she was, but I'd guess that fifty was probably pretty close to accurate. I think once you get up above that range, most people are going to have a harder time keeping up with the other cheerleaders. It's a very physical sport.

I'm much more concerned by her age than her size. Seventeen is more like the age of a junior or a senior early on in the school year. Most sophomores are going to be in the 15 - 16 bracket.

veinglory
04-23-2010, 01:18 AM
The national comps are like the elite (and wealthier) teams from all the thousands of schools. Pretty much every school has a team and they, um, I'll be dipomatic and just say that they aren't quite the same to look at.

~*Kate*~
04-23-2010, 01:28 AM
My HS had an enrollment of about 2500. Our cheerleaders were fairly competitive and did lots of stunts, tumbling, splits, etc. Popularity wasn't much tied to their spot on the squad, and they worked hard-- practice anywhere from 4-6 days a week, depending on the time of year.

Tryouts for cheerleading and dance team/pom squads were judged by members of the local university squads. At the junior high level, only the judges and graduating team members watched tryouts. At the high school level, everyone trying out got to watch, but no one else.

FWIW, my best friend tried out for pom one year. She was on the bigger side, but talented, and didn't make it because of her poor teacher recommendations.

Also, just a random detail that might help you in writing it-- we all had to dress alike for tryouts. Everyone had to provide their own shirt and shorts in school colors. Picking out those tryout clothes was stressful.

eta: I was on junior high pom. Not nearly flexible or athletic enough to make the HS squad. Joined the literary magazine instead. ;)

glutton
04-23-2010, 02:11 AM
Since you and others have mentioned "spotters and catchers," I would have to say that she is too big to be either one of these, and despite her enthusiasm and confidence, this one thing is out of her reach.


Actually, I would think that spotting and catching would be among the roles where size might actually be an advantage... provided she is still fit for her weight at least.

Rowan
04-23-2010, 04:04 AM
I was a cheerleader in high school... Most CLs were pretty fit, as with other sports. Heck, we even had to go to cheerleading camp and compete--we had summer camp just like the football players. We had a couple of really small/petite members who got pitched around and were on top of the pyramids, etc. but for the most part, everyone was in shape. And that's because the practices were brutal! It wasn't necessarily a popularity contest but I'm not going to lie to you--that played a role.

The selection process was pretty straightforward: for JV cheerleaders, the Varsity captain and a selected group of the Varsity cheerleaders selected the squad. For Varsity, the outgoing cheerleaders--led by the Captain--ran tryouts and as a committee they voted. Watch that movie, "Bring it On" (you don't even need to watch the entire thing).

We had to perform a specific cheer AND one we made up ourselves...and perform a number of basic moves and jumps, etc.

I hope that helps! I highly suggest watching some of "Bring it On"! :)



WriteKnight,

Thanks for the response. To tell you the truth, I don't know how cheerleaders are selected, so for my story to work, it could be just about any kind of selection process.

The characters have already said the current cheerleaders were all skinny, and a few were pretty stuck up (except for one, who's a friend of the MC). The selection process could be the current group voting in the new ones, I have no idea. It might not work for the whole student body to be watching (making the MC a laughingstock, or something I don't quite want to happen).

Since you and others have mentioned "spotters and catchers," I would have to say that she is too big to be either one of these, and despite her enthusiasm and confidence, this one thing is out of her reach. But she tries regardless, because that's what kind of gal she is.

The outcome is that she does not make it in. She is upset by this, and feels that her weight was the deciding factor.

mdin
04-23-2010, 06:14 PM
If I'm not mistaken, cheerleading tryouts are usually right at the very, very beginning of the school year because football starts right away. In fact, if the school takes the cheerleading seriously, the tryouts might even be at the end of the previous year or during the summer for varsity.

Therefore, most of her classmates will be 16 at the start of the junior year. They'll start having birthdays right away, but in most schools, if you are 17 on the first day of school you would be a senior. If you end up being 19 when you graduate, it's (usually) because you started school late or you repeated a year.

~*Kate*~
04-23-2010, 07:41 PM
If I'm not mistaken, cheerleading tryouts are usually right at the very, very beginning of the school year because football starts right away. In fact, if the school takes the cheerleading seriously, the tryouts might even be at the end of the previous year or during the summer for varsity.

Therefore, most of her classmates will be 16 at the start of the junior year. They'll start having birthdays right away, but in most schools, if you are 17 on the first day of school you would be a senior. If you end up being 19 when you graduate, it's (usually) because you started school late or you repeated a year.

Ours were end of previous year, as were all extracurriculars (show choir, etc.)

Juneluv12
04-23-2010, 07:46 PM
I'll just throw out my story real quick. I graduated in 97 and was a heavier cheerleader. There were two heavier girls also on my squad, and overall, none of hte girls were thin, thin like they are now.

However, we were sidelines cheerleaders, not competition. We merely did the cheers, jumps, and dances. I had a dance background, so I was good at all that. I would've never made a competiton squad, lol.

I also coached cheerleading for three years, and I've had heavier girls who were good and made it as well. We provided a shirt for the girls(it was part of the cost of the cheer clinic) that is matching, and then they have to all wear blue or black shorts. It was the same way when I cheered except we had to buy our own plain white t.


I think 30lbs is feasible if she's 5'7 b/c girls are soooo ultrathin now.

WriteKnight
04-23-2010, 08:18 PM
Ours was at the end of the previous year as well. I was only a cheerleader in my Senior year. To tell you the truth - I HATED high school sports. But a good friend who WAS a cheerleader 'signed me up' without my knowing it. As I mentioned, in my large school - you had to run and be elected as a 'couple'. There were tons of girls who wanted to try out, and never enough boys.

"Oh, don't worry - you'll never get elected - just do it for Kathy" my friend advised me. So, I showed up, learned the cheers, did the whole pep-rally try out in front of the entire school - and went home, confident I was done with the nonsense.

As a side note - this was the year that 18 year olds got the right to vote. So the city put honest to god VOTING machines in the high schools - to use for this purpose - giving prospective seniors a chance to go into a booth and 'pull the lever'. It was a big deal and made the news.

I got a call that evening, from the local newspaper (This was in the fourth largest city in the US) "How does it feel being elected?" I was asked. "Elected to what?" My last name begins with an "A" - so my partner and I were at the top of the list. We got the most votes.

I went from being a NERD to part of the IN CROWD overnight.

Yeah, I wrote a 'cinderella' short story about it.

Cyia
04-23-2010, 08:27 PM
I was on a competition (non-school) cheer squad that started out as a little league cheer squad for city football. Under 5 feet tall, but in the 30+ pounds over weight category. (And hated every second of it.)

We tried out before a board of coaches and trainers and were scored on memorization, athletic ability, connection with the crowd, strength, etc.

I was usually a spotter for things like basket tosses and the (now illegal) helicopter spins and a pyramid base. Our flier was about 4'10" and weighed around 90 lbs. (she was seriously like picking up a ten year old).

Taller girls - around 5'10" and up - are the braces on a pyramid while the stronger ones are bases. (Intricate or moving structures where there may be 2 or 3 stacks.) Tall ones work best for extensions (where the girl on top is supported solely by the base's hands on her feet). Compact ones are best for the intricate structures that rely on strength over grace.

We had girls of all size, and some of the "fit" ones carried as much muscle weight as a male athlete.

suki
04-23-2010, 08:35 PM
Underthecity, you've already received some posts with insights, but I wanted to provide the link to an article that may help you see how to shape the story for maximum marketability.
http://www.theinsider.com/news/2760100_Teen_lit_alive_with_positive_characters_of _size

The trends of the last few years are to have characters embrace their size, as opposed to the stories we were seeing earlier where the characters lost weight and then became popular/happy/secure/etc.

So, just think about your character and her struggles/transformations in light of the modern trend toward acceptance.

good luck with the story.

~suki

Horserider
04-26-2010, 11:19 PM
All of what I say is based on experiences in MY high school. I have two cousins that are both cheerleaders (one's overweight, but she's in seventh grade), and an aunt that's a coach.


In the new story I'm working on, the MC is a 17 year old high school sophomore, average person, good student, is in band, and unpopular.

17 would be junior/senior. I'm graduating at 17. Did she get held back a couple years? Another thing that I want to mention is I'm not sure if someone would be able to be in band and cheerlead. At my school, band runs year round. And if she does sideline cheer at football games, she wouldn't also be able to play in the band at football games.


In an effort to be liked by her peers and possibly gain some popularity, some day run for student council, she wants to try out for cheerleading.

One of the most true stereotypes I know is that cheerleaders are backstabbing witches. Just so you know.


Is fifty pounds too much? I'm a guy and I don't know much about the lives of cheerleaders, but I don't recall ever seeing any heavy ones.

Likely? No. Possible? Yes. I do know overweight cheerleaders. One thing you need to know about cheerleading is in Michigan there are three rounds. The first round is mostly cheering and jumps. The second round is more difficult stunts, such as back walkovers and splits. The third round is the one you typically see on TV with the really good stunts where they lift "fliers" up in the air. The people that hold them are "bases." Now since bases have to be strong, any overweight cheerleader is likely to be made a base. The best school in the area has an overweight cheerleader that does all three rounds. I think she can even do the back tucks, which is a very coveted thing here.

It really depends on what she can DO. If she can be a base, she'd be a third round cheerleader only. If she can do back walkovers and base, she'd be in rounds two and three. [Note: This only applies to Michigan. I've heard most other states are different, but since I've never been to a cheerleading competition there, I wouldn't know.]

If she's not good enough, she's likely to be bumped down to the JV team instead of varsity. Yes, I have seen juniors on the JV team, though that's usually pretty rare.

StephanieFox
04-27-2010, 04:18 AM
One note: In many places, being in band was what nerdy kids did.

(I was in band because if you took band you did marching band and that fufilled the Physical Education requirement which, before Title 9, which made schools give girls equality in sports programs, was horrible.)

backslashbaby
04-27-2010, 04:24 AM
Really good catch about band and cheering/kick team! Football season, you couldn't do both. They were our music, lol :) I should have thought of that.

~*Kate*~
04-27-2010, 04:36 AM
We had spirit group members who just marched in their uniforms, then went back to the squad. I think my dad did the same w/ football and band.

Dance team was my PE requirement too. *shudders at PE memories*

underthecity
04-27-2010, 03:37 PM
Thanks for the continuing feedback. At the moment, I'm still trying to work out how I want to handle the MC and further define her goals. Due to all the info in this thread, now I'm not sure exactly what she's going to do.



17 would be junior/senior. I'm graduating at 17. Did she get held back a couple years? Another thing that I want to mention is I'm not sure if someone would be able to be in band and cheerlead. At my school, band runs year round. And if she does sideline cheer at football games, she wouldn't also be able to play in the band at football games. Regarding her age, I pointed out in a later post that I mis-typed "sophomore" in the OP, I meant to say she was a junior.

Also, the idea is that she's in band right now, but wants to be a cheerleader. Maybe: band this year, cheerleader next? Don't know.



One of the most true stereotypes I know is that cheerleaders are backstabbing witches. Just so you know. I do know the stereotype. The notion was that the cheerleaders at MC's school fit into that stereotype.



It really depends on what she can DO. If she can be a base, she'd be a third round cheerleader only. If she can do back walkovers and base, she'd be in rounds two and three. All good information.


One note: In many places, being in band was what nerdy kids did.
I know, which is why I put her there.

underthecity
04-27-2010, 04:51 PM
I've given it some more thought.

What I'm thinking is that the MC wants to try out for cheerleading, but this doesn't become the main (subplot-wise) focus in the book. Instead, she is overweight, and losing the weight is one of her driving forces.

She plays keyboard in band. At home, she takes piano lessons, practices piano. One part of her would love to be a musician as a career. But she favors interior design.

Due to her weight, she feels she doesn't have many friends and nobody likes her. This is quite the oppposite in "real life." Lots of people like her, she just doesn't realize it.

In an early chapter, she tries out for cheerleading but doesn't make it. (While waiting in line/trying out/whichever, she notes that most other girls weigh much less than her.) This helps drive her to lose the weight. Then, at the end of the book, she has lost the weight and is ready to try out again.

(Note, of course this all secondary to the main plot.)