When new head coach Kathleen Fallon and new assistant coach Jenny Gomez began the 2018-19 season, they started by sitting down and talking to the members of the dance team about any concerns that they had.
“Something that they brought up and they really stressed to us [was] that this isn’t a reputation that they themselves created. This is something that they have just been assigned to because of things past girls did or did not do. [It’s] not really for us to say or judge,” Gomez said.
This reputation has been heard by many through rumors that all the girls on the team do is party, drink and sleep around. Others have heard that they are stuck-up, privileged and think they are perfect and better than everyone else. That they are all the same: “The poms.”
“We’re not the stereotype, and we never will be. I feel like people only choose to see the parts of us that kind of fit, and then they make it fit. Like they push us into them,” said Chloe Gretter ’20. “But in reality, no one knows I volunteer as a tutor two hours every week. No one pays attention to the fact that me and Anna [Haney ’19] are on Best Buddies, and Sydney [Sherwood ’20] dances every night at Nolte, and Jordan [Forbes ’20] volunteers at the gymnastics center. … If you step back and saw the whole picture, you’d be like, ‘They’re just normal girls.’”
While being interviewed for a separate article, a fellow student had come up and assumed that dance team member Piper Brady ’22 was being interviewed about poms. When asked why the student had assumed that, the student had simply responded saying because [poms] is the only thing [Brady] does.
“We are very different in so many ways, each and every single one of us, like completely different people. But then people are like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re the poms,’” Haney said. “We have to be close, but that doesn’t mean people can label us as one. That’s one thing that I hate, whenever I hear, ‘The poms.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m my own person.’”
Last year when a list of 94 names came out at West ranking female students, many were appalled; however, for Chloe, being objectified in that manner did not come as a shock to her because it was not something new.
“The list on a smaller scale [is] kind of like … what a lot of people do a ton to us,” Chloe said. “Honestly, I’ve gotten used to it since freshman year, which is weird. But now it doesn’t really phase [me] anymore, because it’s just like I have accepted it as a part of [being on poms] … So, you know, it sucks, but that’s just kind of the way it is.”
She has accepted that somehow being part of the dance team means getting objectified to a point where it doesn’t seem shocking. The ones doing the objectification come in all genders.
“I feel like when it comes to poms, people have no empathy because of what they think [of] us,” said Liz Nodia ‘19. “There’s no stepping into a poms girl’s shoes ever.”