Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


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Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401


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In Defense of Powderpuff

The Powderpuff performance returns after a three year hiatus, bringing up questions of its morality
Rachel Jeune
Band senior Grant Conley flicks his wrist in the air as the senior Powderpuff boys line up and perform the choreography created by theatre senior Keiona Nesbitt (Rachel Jeune, The Muse, February 1st, 2019)

During 2019 Spirit Week, students participated in the annual Powderpuff routine. Boys donned makeup and crop tops as they prepared to leap, cheer, and twirl. However, they were oblivious to something growing under the surface: such strong animosity for the event that it would not take place for another four years. 

Traditionally, Powderpuffs involve a girls football game and boys cheer team. However, since our school does not have a football team, our Powderpuff performances took place during Spirit Week, with a girls basketball team and a boys dance performance. 

But after the last Powderpuff, students and staff began to recognize potential issues surrounding the concept of the event — specifically those related to gender stereotypes. Some believe it demeans women’s athletic abilities, questioning why they shouldn’t be allowed to participate in sports every other day of the year. The boys cheerleading portion of Powderpuff also came under scrutiny, as some boys who dress in a “feminine” manner regularly, wearing skirts, crop tops, or makeup felt targeted.

At a school with such a large LGBTQ+ population, with only 58.6% of students considering themselves to be straight, according to a casual survey of 865 students conducted by The Muse, it is important to consider everyone’s feelings when planning events. Making a certain group feel discriminated against should never be okay.

I don’t think this means we should take Powderpuff away but rather make it enjoyable for all, especially since the creation of Powderpuff was originally progressive. According to The State Journal-Register, a group of college girls at Eastern State Teacher’s College in 1945 came together and decided that while the boys in their school were fighting in World War II, they should still have a football game. Although it was looked down upon, they were allowed to play an all girl’s game, giving the girls a chance to experience something that broke a gender norm. 

I believe that the event itself is innocent, but that some people’s attitude about the event is to blame for the stigma surrounding the event. Unfortunately, some individuals who participate in Powderpuff have bullied students who actually break gender norms outside of the game. Not only does this come across as hypocritical, but it also allows Powderpuff participants to use the dance to make fun of these students.

As years have gone by, times have changed for the better in terms of acceptance, and Powderpuff is less likely to be used as a tool of discrimination. Not only do we have a successful girls basketball team, but boys are also welcome on our cheer team. When the Powderpuff cheer performance happens this year, it is not the only time boys at our school can dress “femininely” or dance — any student can express themselves however they choose year-round. 

Still, for students who may be in social circles where being themselves on normal days can earn stares or scrutiny, Powderpuff can help them to feel comfortable with presenting themselves in a way they normally wouldn’t. Presenting this femininity as a joke or performance during a boy’s cheerleading event on Spirit Week may allow them to express themselves without feeling judged.

Powderpuff is returning this year under a different name. Since the basketball game and the dance routine involve both boys and girls, the Powderpuff show will be called “the cheer squad” in an effort to rebrand the  event. Although I don’t necessarily think we need to change the name, if that’s what it takes to be able to see this performance, I’m glad this switch occurred.

At the end of the day, the students I know that are participating in Powderpuff don’t have any bad intentions. In fact, some identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves. Regardless of how seriously the students in Powderpuff are taking it, they are having fun dancing and showing off their school spirit, and we should not take this away from them.

For the dissidents of Powderpuff, I urge you to really think about why you disagree with the event. At the end of the day, Spirit Week is to have fun and express yourself, and those performing in Powderpuff are doing just that.

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About the Contributor
Ellie Symons, Coverage Editor
Ellie Symons is a second-year staffer and coverage editor on The Muse. When not writing or editing for the publication, she may be found watching a sitcom and sipping on an iced chai. She looks forward to creating awesome content on the staff this year with the team.
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