Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders before a home game in September. N.F.L. cheerleaders say they do not speak up about sexual harassment because teams warn them that they will be dismissed if they complain. Credit Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire, via Getty Images

Photographs by Associated Press and Getty Images

Cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers, known as the TopCats, must arrive at the stadium on game days at least five hours before kickoff. Body piercings and tattoos must be removed or covered. Water breaks can be taken only when the Panthers are on offense. TopCats must leave the stadium to change into their personal attire. By 

Bailey Davis, a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, was fired for violating a social media policy that does not apply to the team’s male players. Davis has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Credit Zack Wittman for The New York Times


The women spoke of starvation diets that had lasted for weeks. The visitor, a New York Times reporter, noted that the cheerleaders were paid next to nothing: $15 a game ($14.72 after taxes). They had stringent practice schedules — as much as five hours a night, five nights a week — and they could not appear where alcohol was served, attend parties of any sort or wear jewelry with their uniforms. By Jessica Bennett


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