Pom Pom Squad’s Mia Berrin on her queer subversion of a high school trope: ‘Cheerleaders were a symbol of everything that I couldn’t be as a Black, Puerto Rican teenager’

Subversions of cheerleader iconography have always been prevalent in popular music, from Toni Basil’s “Mickey” video to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers.” But for 23-year-old Mia Berrin, the queer leader of self-described “quiet grrrl” band Pom Pom Squad, loaded cheerleader symbolism is closely tied to her sexual, political, and artistic awakening.

Berrin tells Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume it was when she was “15 or 16 and started to look around me and say, ‘I don’t really like what I’m seeing’” that a rebel cheerleader made a huge impression on her. “I ended up getting bullied out of public school when I was in middle school, so my parents sent me to a private school from freshman year to senior year because they were worried about my wellbeing and safety. And that school like was a John Hughes movie,” she recalls. “The cheerleaders came to school in their uniforms, and the tradition was on the day of the game the cheerleaders had to bake or bring food for their assigned football player, which is ridiculous And I happened to be friends with one specific cheerleader who was extremely headstrong and was like, ‘I’m not going to bake for this dude.