Health and Beauty

Skin Care By Gabriela

“Crack Whores” and “Jelly Bellies”: A Former NFL Cheerleader Reveals the Bullying and Body-Shaming Off the Field

Gabriella Davis, 20, first started cheerleading in middle school in Dallas, Texas; around the same time, she became infatuated with those high priestesses of spirit fingers, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

“I’d go to Cowboys games, and I remember just watching the cheerleaders the whole time,” Davis told me recently by phone. “I was like, ‘They are so beautiful. I can’t wait to do that one day.’”

Davis cheered in high school, and in the national, competitive All-Star league, and in two years of college at Texas State University. It was about more than just beauty to her—a confluence of athletics (there aren’t many other sports whose squads can do a backflip while catching a football on the dismount), discipline, and sisterhood. But just as she’d “hung up her pom-poms” in college, she couldn’t shake the urge last spring to drive three hours from Texas State in San Marcos to Houston to try out for the Texans squad; to become an N.F.L. cheerleader, and one of the women she was so dazzled by as a tween. Everything happens for a reason, she believes: Davis made the team.