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Mississippi native and former NFL cheerleader Bailey Davis was fired after posting a photo to her Instagram account. In this episode of The Scarlet Letter Reports with Amanda Knox, Davis explains how the image that got her fired was just one part of a broader context of treatment; the Saints she says controlled many aspects of cheerleaders' lives, from their social media behavior to their communication with football players.
Davis grew up loving the Saints, dreaming of dancing for them. But her career fell apart after a rumor had spread that Davis had been at a party with one of the players. Within days, she claims to have received a text message from her coach chastising her for posting the photo on Instagram, "especially considering the rumors going around about you." The image that cost Davis her job features her in a black lace outfit with the text, "I want to break glass ceilings, not fit glass slippers."
Davis started seeing "red flags" early into her career. Things like monthly weigh-ins to control the dancers' body size; "You wouldn't eat that day," Davis says, explaining the various measures cheerleaders would take to prevent themselves from being benched. (One colleague allegedly went to the hospital after taking efforts to maintain her weight.) And all of this, Davis says, was in exchange for $10 an hour.
After she lost her job, Davis sued the NFL for gender discrimination, and subsequently became the subject of extreme public criticism. She has had to deal with being attacked by strangers, and alienated from her squad, all while trying to bring greater equality to the NFL; Davis has lodged a complaint on the basis of gender discrimination, and launched a campaign called, Level The Playing Field.
In the third episode of season two of The Scarlet Letter Reports, Davis explains how she became an advocate for women, an experience she didn't anticipate in her life. "I've been labeled as a feminist and, for me, in the South, that's not a thing," Davis tells Knox, explaining how facing discrimination firsthand has motivated her to action. "I'm aware of all these issues now and where we need to go. And before, I just would have turned my head from it."