What Did the Cheerleader Do Wrong?

Are all blonds dumb? Do all Canadians like hockey? Do all writers think their first drafts suck?

We all know that there is truth behind stereotypes. Sorry. It’s true (and yes, your first draft of anything probably does suck).

But I want to know exactly what the cheerleaders did to receive an entire (or nearly so) genre’s disdain?

I’ve spent the last ten years agreeing with the anti-cheerleader crowd. I even slam the head-bobbers a time or two in my ms, Saw It Coming (SIC). The funniest part of this whole post is that I was a cheerleader. In fact, I was the most evil of all cheerleaders. (GASP!) I was the head cheerleader. (Please don’t hate me, please don’t hate me!)

When I was in high school, it was awesome to be a cheerleader. I was PROUD to be a cheerleader. But once I got into the real world, it became my dirty little secret. People would say, “What did you do in high school?” I always responded, “Oh (fumble, stall) I danced for a private dance company.” Or I’d say I was a Student Body Officer (head cheerleader was an elected position at my school, I wasn’t lying).

There were mean cheerleaders. There were cheerleaders who stole boyfriends (this is not a confession). There were cheerleaders who weren’t on the Honor Roll. But for the most part, we were a bunch of girls who had fun.

My mom always said that the rest of the world hated cheerleaders because they were jealous. Maybe she was right.

As adults I think we excise the demons we’ve pent up since high school in our writing. We take out our personal vendettas on the side characters by basing them on a stereotypes of someone who bothered us, bullied us, or irritated us in high school.

OR, I could be way off the mark. Maybe it’s just me that does that.

There is a side character in SIC that is totally based on the jock-girls I knew in high school. She’s smart, sassy, and totally, totally rude. Were all the sports chicks like that? No. Did a lot of them make fun of me (and the rest of my squad)? You bet. My character slams cheerleaders in my book, which reads pretty accurately.

So here’s my question for the day: Do you use stereotypes as you build characters? Do you have a dumb blond, a smart Asian, a fabulous gay guy? And, is there any particular character that you give negative personality traits because you’ve built that character on a real-life model?

P.S. Kathryn brought up in my previous post a YA paranormal romance, Evermore, where the main character was a cheerleader named . Yes, in her flashbacks she was a cheerleader and she was still a nice girl (I know, miracles never cease). But as she reflects on the friends she had during her time as a cheerleader she realizes that they were shallow backstabbers. In fact, her best friend (also a cheerleader) steals her boyfriend (a jock) once she’s out of the picture. Even though the author gave a little wiggle room for a singular cheerleader to be good, she still manages to slam the whole group.

P.S.S. I just re-read Kathryn’s comment and wonder if we’re talking about completely different books. Evermore is by Alyson Noel. You said Nevermore. I could be totally off base, which would not be a new thing. Sorry.


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