Strict & Surprising Rules Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Have To Follow

From who they can date to how they "should" look.
a blonde dallas cowboys cheerleader wears a blue cropped jacket and white shorts, holding a pop pom in the air
Image: Getty

There’s no role in the world of cheerleading as covetable as being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. The Texan team’s cheer squad are the cream of the crop—but that prestige comes with a cost.

Since the team rose to icon status in the 1970s, DCC have had to abide by a set of rules, including about who they can date and how they can dress. While they rulebook has changed over time, the regulations are strongly enforced and being part of the troupe means sticking to them. A handful of these rules, both old and new, have been highlighted in a new Netflix docuseries about the team, titled America’s Sweethearts.

From touching on how little they get paid to the strict aesthetic requirements they’re held to; the docuseries highlighted some of the grit behind the glamour, giving us a peak inside the DCC locker room. Ahead, we round up some of the most surprising rules Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have to follow.

Image: Netflix

1. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Are Not Allowed To Date Football Players

American teen movies may typically pair up the cheer captain and the quarterback, but don’t expect to see this play out within the Dallas Cowboys institution.

While it’s not entirely clear whether this is still enforced, in the 1970s and 80s it was a strict rule that cheerleaders weren’t to fraternize with players.

“Cowboys cheerleaders were off limits, and I think that only added to the aura of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, which separated them from a lot of other cheerleader groups around the country,” retired TV sports reporter Dale Hansen explained on America’s Girls, a podcast about DCC.

However, there is nothing to stop cheerleaders dating Dallas Cowboys players once they have retired from the squad, as there are no restrictions on who the footballers can date. DCC’s own website points to Niki Green as an example. Green cheered for the team at the Super Bowl XXX in 1996, and went on to marry Cowboys punter Toby Gowin following her retirement.

2. Tattoos Have To Be Hidden

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are not prohibited from having tattoos—but don’t expect to spot any ink on the field.

The organisation’s website states that tattoos are not an issue, however, they cannot be visible when in uniform.

3. No Chewing Gum

America’s Sweethearts features a clip of Suzanne Mitchell, who was the DCC’s director from 1976 to 1989, chastising a cheerleader for chewing gum.

It was a part of Mitchell’s rulebook that troupe members were prohibited from chewing gum. While it is unclear whether this is still enforced, you will be hard-pressed to catch a DCC with a Juicy Fruit on the side lines.

dallas cowboys cheerleaders line up in practice. They have arms over each other's shoulders and wear a red sports bra and black shorts
Image: Netflix

4. Cheerleaders Must Attend Every Rehearsal

A copy of Mitchell’s list of rules features in the 2018 documentary Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story Of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. It includes, ” Candidates who do not feel they can attend all rehearsals should not contemplate being a Dallas Cowboy[s] Cheerleader.”

This note still stands today, with the statement’s exact wording published on the organisation’s website—in all capital letters, no less.

Netflix’s documentary spotlights several DCC who work physically demanding, full-time day jobs and still make it to practice every day!

5. Cheerleaders Have To Maintain A Certain Look

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are expected to maintain a clean image, both on and off the field. In Candy Evans’ 1`982 book A Decade of Dreams, which details the history of the DCC, alum Presley Killmer explained that outside of performances, the women were expected to be “squeaky clean.”

While they were expected to look and act “sexy” on game day, the rest of the time it was, “High heels, pantyhose, business suit, makeup and hair done, mannerly, good etiquette,” according to Killmer, who was DCC in the ’80s.

They even have a guide on their website to what companies provide the cheerleader’s products and services, including their tan, hair and meal prep. The site also features tutorials from DCC on how to replicate their signature hair and makeup.

a dallas cowboys cheerleader with a small afro wears a blue cropped short, white vest, white shorts and white boots; she holds silver and blue pom poms
Image: Getty

However, the organisation’s control over the cheerleader’s appearance goes deeper than hair and makeup.

Mitchell’s aforementioned list is explicit in stating “cheerleaders gaining weight are dropped from the roster.” While current director, Kelli Finglass is less direct with her wording on-camera, and the organisation states it does not have any height or weight requirements, there are multiple instances in America’s Sweethearts where management remark on the size or shape of a cheerleader’s body in the notoriously revealing uniforms.

“You don’t get a new uniform. Once you’re fitted for that uniform, that size is the size that you get. You don’t get to go up. If you go up, they’re like, ‘Why does this not fit you?’ ” a veteran cheerleader says in the series.

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