Cincinnati Cheerleaders More Than The Sum Of Their Pretty Parts

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Men's magazines are so much better than women's magazines. For starters, they don't condescend, have an evolved sense of humor and they're sorta naughty (but not in a trying-too-hard Cosmo sort of way). And they actually seem much more devoted to writing interesting — albeit occasionally obnoxious — pieces on women than any of their ladymag sisters. Take this month's GQ. The Conde Nast men's magazine devotes an entire nine pages to the plight of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals, the pro cheerleading squad for the City of Chili's NFL team. Special care is given to presenting the Ben-Gals as a group of complicated women with a complicated job ("complicated" meaning, cheap: A pro cheerleader makes $75 a week, and, according to GQ, it costs a Ben-Gal approximately $1,000 a month to just achieve and maintain her "total package". Talk about labors of love).



Sure, there are some superficial moments in the GQ piece. (Two of the Ben-Gals in the locker room preparing for a game: "We look so awesome." "Oh, my God, we do!") And yes, the women tease their hair, fake their tans, paint their lips with orange lipstick and obsess over every pound gained and lost. But before you toss these women off as flippant and the story as chauvinistic, take a moment to appreciate the fact that they are allowed to speak in their own voices in the piece, a smart journalistic move which eliminates any possibility for the reader to assume any tone of condescension and shows many of these women for who they are: Just as smart as they are sexy. There's Rhone:

I have a bachelor's in chemistry and a bachelor's in biology. I just finished my master's in public health with an emphasis in environmental-health science. For two years, I worked on a project dealing with air quality within chemical-fume hoods. We came up with something called the smoke-particle-challenge method. I did monoclonal-antibody research for BD Transduction Laboratories. I worked for the U.S. government at the Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine... For me the Ben-Gals is about fulfilling a dream. Not many people out there can say they're an NFL cheerleader. I have never been so proud to wear such an ugly color of lipstick....[W]hen a small-town girl tries out for NFL cheerleading and makes it, that's huge. I made the front page of our local newspaper.
There's Sarah:
People think we're so weird...Like, a guy will ask you out on a date on a Wednesday night, and you can't say, "I can't eat, because I have to weigh in tomorrow." But you can't go and not eat, either. So it is hard. I usually say to a guy, "Let's wait until Friday night, because I have four days to get my weight back down after that"....Of course, guys look at it as some type of sex symbol. But I don't think it's a thing that guys want their girlfriend to look like, you know what I mean? It's like a costume. It's not something I think a guy would like to look at every day.
There's Adrienne:
My mom was killed. She was murdered by my stepdad. I had just turned 1 year old. I break down sometimes. You can't think: Why me? Things happen for a reason. You just can't think about the unknown... With the Ben-Gals, with thirty girls in one group, you'd think it'd be a bunch of backstabbers, cliques, but it's not like that. They say I'm this role model because I have a little girl I'm raising on my own and I work construction. They say I'm an inspiration. They say that they're amazed I do all this....Being a Ben-Gal in general is just awesome.

Meet the NFL Cheerleader: G-L-O-R-Y [GQ]

Earlier: Angelina Jolie: A Woman For All Seasons (And Sexes)