NBA dancers from the past and present are stepping into the spotlight to bring up issues regarding the working conditions they had to deal with in order to perform their jobs. Much like cheerleaders in the NFL in recent years, enough is finally enough.
Besides the low pay, dancers have spoken out about the constant pressure and body-shaming they faced from their bosses and coaches. In a telling piece from Abby Haglage of Yahoo, current and former dancers described the eating disorders they developed over the years in order to protect their job security and the climate of fear that perpetuated it all.
This is a disturbing, revealing story on NBA team dancers. Can't speak to whether things have changed in the time since some of these stories took place, but unfortunately the Jazz were mentioned prominently in here. https://t.co/8vB5eej1JN— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 11, 2018
"We got weighed monthly; that’s what messed with me most," said Sydney Sorenson, a dancer for the Utah Jazz from 2009 to 2012. "[So] the week of weigh-ins, I came up with all these methods to weigh in smaller, like not eat anything solid for a week… One year they weighed us after Thanksgiving, and a girl had gained weight and couldn’t perform. Point blank, I would say that I definitely had an eating disorder — especially the last year.”
It only gets worse, as some coaches had their dancers keep mandatory food logs to keep track of what they were eating. Some were so desperate to eat that they would go to extreme measures to ensure they were at "ideal weight."
NBA dancers— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) December 10, 2018
*Paid as little as $3-$4 an hour after expenses
*Must perform for free at some events/practices
*Get benched for being a pound or two over team's target weight
*Have to throw up/take laxatives before games to fit into outfitshttps://t.co/O1zcnGJFgz
"My teammates would regularly take laxatives before performances just to be able to eat regularly and still fit into this image," said an L.A. Clippers dancer who opted to remain anonymous. "I did it a few times because it was regular, which is really sad. But it seemed so normal."
Some dancers would even try to induce vomiting right before weigh-ins. Former Dallas Mavericks dancer Kathryn Dunn found her teammate passed out in a bathroom as a result.
It's a truly telling and disturbing story at the lengths these women are faced with in order to keep their job. They just want to be paid fairly and not be subject to harsh conditions while working for a global juggernaut such as the NBA.