Ice girls: poor pay, lousy conditions, great exposure

Nothing says hockey like women in skimpy outfits cleaning the ice.

“Ice girls” are the offspring of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, the group that started the sports trend of mixing sport with lots of flesh.

What kind of life is it? Mother Jones, which recently reported on the outrageous working conditions of “cheerleaders” for NFL teams, this week wrote about ice girls, specifically those for the Los Angeles Kings, the team that is about to win the Stanley Cup.

The parallels are apparent: lousy pay, poor working conditions, and plenty of exposure.

There’s no arguing that professional cheerleaders are hired, in part, as eye candy for fans. Yet the Kings’ ice girls said they were expected not only to do their own hair and makeup, but to pay for their supplies. They were also instructed to consult their manager before cutting or dying their hair. And while other beauty standards weren’t explicit, the women knew they were expected to look good. One woman recalled her boss saying, “The Ducks girls [Anaheim’s hockey team] get weighed in, and you don’t, so you should feel lucky.” (A Ducks spokesman told me that the ice team does do fitness testing, but the women are not weighed in.)

The Kings women I spoke with were paid about $15 per hour for corporate and charity appearances, and less for games—they worked between 10 and 30 hours per week. But some of them spent as much as $350 per month on makeup, including foundation (camera flash-ready, not loose powder), eyebrow waxing, teeth whitening, and hair supplies. The Flyers women had professional makeup people and hair stylists, but they made significantly less money—$50 for about seven hours of work on game day. A Kings representative declined to comment on the women’s claims, and the Flyers did not respond to detailed voice and email messages.