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From Strong to Sexy: 25 Captivating Images of the Evolution of Cheerleaders

Cheerleaders

They don't make 'em like they used to

On Feb. 5, all eyes will be on the New England Patriots and the New York Giants as they face off in Super Bowl XLVI, but almost as many eyes will likely take a glance at the sidelines at the teams’ biggest supporters: the cheerleaders. What started out as a male-dominated sport has come a long, long way in the 113 years it has been in existence.

The very first official cheerleader showed his school spirit at the University of Minnesota on November 2, 1898, chanting, “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” Women joined the sport in 1923 and began dominating during World War II. Today, 97 percent of cheerleaders are female, although at the collegiate level the split is 50/50.

From megaphones and pom poms, human pyramids, splits and flips, from pants and long skirts to practically no clothes at all, the moves and looks of cheerleaders have evolved significantly since its inception to today.

In the spirit of the upcoming Super Bowl, take a walk down memory lane from the 1920s to the present with these super-cool photos of the history of the look of cheerleading (courtesy of Retronaut.co):

nggallery id=’123892′

  • 1920s 1 of 25
    1920s
    A rather preppy look.
  • 1920s 2 of 25
    1920s
    This look seems more fashionable than functional, as if they're more about their words than their moves.
  • 1920s 3 of 25
    1920s
    The girls have arrived!
  • 1930s 4 of 25
    1930s
    Hooray!
  • 1930s 5 of 25
    1930s
    A unisex squad
  • 1930s 6 of 25
    1930s
    The human pyramid
  • 1940s 7 of 25
    1940s
    They seem dressed for a funeral rather than a cheer, but at least they're smiling.
  • 1940s 8 of 25
    1940s
    Still no sign of their legs, but a hint of their arms.
  • 1940s 9 of 25
    1940s
    A leg! A leg!
  • 1950s 10 of 25
    1950s
    An ankle! An ankle!
  • 1950s 11 of 25
    1950s
    Rah! Rah! Rah!
  • 1950s 12 of 25
    1950s
    An early Chorus Line?
  • 1960s 13 of 25
    1960s
    Brought to you in living color.
  • 1960s 14 of 25
    1960s
    Whoa! Now there's some leg. (Welcome to the 60s.)
  • 1970s 15 of 25
    1970s
    Unmistakably the 70s.
  • 1970s 16 of 25
    1970s
    All hail the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
  • 1980s 17 of 25
    1980s
    There are the legs — again! And, yup, the panties!
  • 1980s 18 of 25
    1980s
    And now . . . the bellies!
  • 1990s 19 of 25
    1990s
    And now . . . the cleavage!
  • 2000s 20 of 25
    2000s
    This cheerleader shows . . . a lot.
  • 2000s 21 of 25
    2000s
    Shake it all about!
  • 2000s 22 of 25
    2000s
    You do the hokey pokey?
  • 2000s 23 of 25
    2000s
    Abs of steel.
  • 2010s 24 of 25
    2010s
    Not for the weak, or the modest.
  • 2010s 25 of 25
    2010s
    Modern day cheering.

All images courtesy of Retronaut.co

Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter

 

Check out Hollywood’s most spirited cheerleaders: Celeb Kid Sports!

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