The Glass Ceiling

Joe Kelly, Nationally Published Writer and Advocate for Father/Daughter relationships, voted DCC Barbie the “Worst Doll of the Year” for 2009.

Booo.  Hiss.

I don’t recall Mr. Kelly at any of our Barbie play dates, yet he writes,

“When you combine two classic symbols of gendered stereotypes – the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and Barbie – you get one terrible toy,”

Even more disturbing, he adds:

“Do we really want to teach our young daughters that they belong on the sidelines, not in the game, and the way to get noticed is show a lot of skin?”

I guess I’m Worst Mom of the Year.  Don’t tell Mr. Kelly, but I would want my daughter on the sidelines and not in the game being plowed into AstroTurf by five or six 300 lb. players leading to a future mid-life knee replacement surgery. Call me gender-biased, but I would have prefered to see Megan in those really cute DCC boots over a slobbery on-field mouth guard.

In his Tips for Dads’ and Kids Watching the Superbowl Together Mr. Kelly encourages dad’s to point out male vs. female announcers and how gender bias might curtail a daughter’s career dreams.

I am so glad my dad used the Superbowl as an opportunity to pass the popcorn bowl, instead of passing a dose of reality to squelch any dream of becoming a newscaster.

My parents never told me there was a glass ceiling.  I was only told,

Valerie, you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.

At age five, I wanted to be an astronaut.  My mom, a woman of practicality and function, bluntly told me I would need a degree in astrophysics and layed out the educational roadmap to that goal.  Sheesh!  No thanks!  I had just graduated from needing a nap on a floor matt.  Mom failed to mention that it would be 20 more years before the world would see Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the shuttle Challenger .  My fly me to the moon dream was short-lived, but I never thought it was an impossibility.

I’m not so obtuse to believe that Mr. Kelly’s life goal is to see his daughters ‘in the game’, donning shoulder pads and cleats.  He clearly has spent his well-intentioned career protecting his girls and encouraging other men to cherish their daughters, too.  In the same way I know he doesn’t want them literally on the Superbowl field, but does he truly believe the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are literally on the sidelines?

To name a few of their activities outside the stadium:

  • The DCC have made more U.S.O. visits to U.S. military troops stationed oversees than the legendary Bob Hope.
  • All the DCC participate in a holiday visitation program, along with the Dallas Cowboys, that extends to five different hospitals throughout Dallas and Fort Worth.
  • Charlotte Jones Anderson, President of the DCC, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for The Salvation Army.  Her efforts have touched lives around the world.

Sidelined?  That’s the starting warm-up of their off the field philanthropy work.

If it’s open game on the gender bias discussion, consider the fact that the average NFL career spans 3.5 seasons.  Compare that now to the life and career of Kelli Finglass, Director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  Ms. Finglass was a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from 1984 to 1989 (five years) where she was the first cheerleader to be invited back without having to go through the customary audition process.  Not limited to the kick line or the sidelines, Ms. Finglass’ boots were made for walkin’ right up the corporate ladder, as she stepped into the position of assistant to the director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (that’s a couple more years).  By 1991 she advanced to Director of the DCC, becoming not only the on-field mother to 36 Texas beauties, but the mother of all invention as she brainstormed and branded the hit series, “The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team.”

Sidelined?  Did I mention that Ms. Finglass garners between $10,000 and $15,000 for speaking engagements?

There seems to be no ceiling on the number of women that can advance within Cowboys Stadium, and Ms. Finglass is joined by the star-spangled excellence of Judy Trammell.  Ms. Trammell cheered from the sidelines from 1980 to 1984, and then advanced to the position of assistant choreographer.  By 1991 she was promoted to head choreographer, and has developed routines and programs that make the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders unparalleled.  If my math is correct, Ms. Trammel’s career now spans 30 years, far exceeding the longevity of a NFL player.

My blogging banter about DCC Barbie is intended to be just good sport.  But the blogs that consider it a penalty to be sidelined strike at my very heart and the life Megan Bosselman lived out in her last days.

My girl was sidelined.

With spinal tumors exerting pressure at every moment, the last days of her life were spent in a horizontal position, as standing upright sent her into indescribable pain.  Her only contribution was to just ‘be’.  With an outside world screaming that you don’t have value on the sidelines, my daily struggle was to affirm her in the value of her quiet and sweet existence.

One of her last heroic efforts to preform came on my 51st birthday (24 days before Megan’s death).  With cane in hand, my girl managed to hobble down to the kitchen in the hopes of making me a full breakfast.  She got as far as the coffee, and after starting the pot and writing a little note, returned to her bed in sobbing pain.  I came out to the kitchen that February 27 to find her little note which remains my most sacred birthday memory.  As I ascended to her room, with cup of coffee in hand, my girl cried over what she couldn’t do.

I reminded her that it was enough to just be.

It leaves me humbled to know that a massive organization such as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would reach out to me after my daughter’s death.  Every minute someone dies with cancer, and it is staggering to think that they encouraged me with no motive of recognition, to thought of thanks, and no pre-knowledge that my blog would soon be read by thousands.  The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Mr. Kelly, are anything but sidelined.

Key Notes:

  • I miss my girl on the sidelines.
  • There is no glass ceiling at Cowboys Stadium, but a retractable steel ceiling that has pushed the limits of human and architectural possibility. The monumental arches represent the longest single-span roof structure in the world at 1,225 feet.
  • I grew up to own a national sticker business, selling thousands of stickers for home party companies and charity fundraisers.  I sidelined my 20 year business to care for my daughter, and I’m in the process of rebuilding.
  • My father Charles Wilscam Jr., who built a multi-million dollar architecture business from nothing, was instrumental in helping me start my sticker business.  He never told me ‘you can’t make a living in art.’
  • The life and career of Charlotte Jones Anderson and her father Jerry Jones should be documented research on excellence in father/daughter relationships.

On a Lighter Note:

  • DCC Barbie has more skin covered per square inch than Speedo Ken.
  • Though writing for Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, Mr. Kelly’s blog is flanked with commercial ads to purchase his best-selling books.

Category: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders - Making the Team



  1. Oh my. What an article. I happened upon this completely be accident. I was searching the net for news on Charlotte’s recent promotion to chairman of charities….or something like that and found this instead. Thank you!!! I think that well intentioned people are confusing less savory professions which involve skin and dancing (and dollar bills and a pole) with professional cheerleading. I completely agree with your point!! VERY well written and I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story and your views.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Like any blogger, you often wonder if anybody is reading!

      Charlotte is a most remarkable woman. Good luck in your news search!

  2. You know, there are times when adults project too much of their own way of thinking onto children. Healthy children aren’t thinking about glass ceilings or gender bias (or any other kind of bias typically, for that matter). A kid, boy or girl, just wants to hear that his/her parent believes in his/her potential and that he/she can do anything he/she puts his/her mind to. Too often, adult thinking is centered on practicality — that is, all the limitations that can keep something from happening. Healthy children are too busy thinking along the lines of possibility — that is, all the reasons why their dreams CAN happen. Forcing adult practicality onto children who carry the dreams of possibility makes practical sense to some adults (who usually have forgotten the wonder of being a child), but in reality it is just cruel, as it robs children of just getting to be innocent children for a while. The fact is that the DCC have achieved something that isn’t easy to achieve. I applaud them for pursuing their own childhood dreams and for achieving them.

  3. To see Megan’s handwriting almost made me cry. I still treasure all the wonderful notes she sent me. So precious.

  4. Wow! I am crying! Tears that span from sadness to gratitude! It is no wonder your blog is read by thousands! I was reading and feeling so grateful for everything the DCC has done for so many and then you made the strongest point ever. Your daughter was sidelined…it really struck a chord with me. So many people complain about their lives daily. Unhappy for whatever reason. I don’t choose to live there and your blog today reminded me why! Because of the mere fact I opened my eyes today I am grateful! I have ALWAYS loved the DCC! Ever since I was young I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan. Not because I love football or even because I wanted to be a DCC but because of all the things they stood for back when I was growing up. To hear of the amazing contributions made by the DCC makes me an even bigger fan! I want to be DCC & I am 45 and so out of shape there is no way I could become one…but I can have the Barbie and be proud of all the things it stands for! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Beth,

      Thank you for your beautiful note. We can all be a DCC player by giving our lives away to our community. I know the DCC has a junior division. We should make a proposal for a DCC Senior Division (I’m 53!). I’m pretty sure I could rock those boots, though my abs have rocked nothing since the birth of my two children 🙂

      Until then, you are free to come to my home and shake the DCC Junior Pom Poms (Blue/hot pink/silver), compliments of Kelli Finglass and the DCC. My treasured gift has given me hope and a huge measure of fun for my life without Megan.

      All the best,

      P.S. I did almost call you to help me shoot a video of my DCC Barbie for Youtube! Let’s put it on a bucket list of things to share together! DCC Barbie goes to a Husker game?

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain

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