The Pom-Pom Paradox: a Post that Is and Is Not about Pom-Poms

by Belinda Munoz on April 5, 2010


Whether you’re a grown man, woman or a baby, chances are you’ve encountered pom-poms either actively or subliminally.  Pom-poms, you ask?  Yes, pom-poms, I say.


No, they don’t have the overt prominence that buttons, studs or even grommets enjoy.  But whether or not you’re attuned to their seeming ubiquity, they have earned their permanent place in many facets of our lives as peppy pieces of somewhat silly doodads that arguably add cheer to otherwise ordinary objects.

From peeking out of athletic ankle socks, to sitting atop hand-crocheted unisex caps, to adorning the seat of a snuggly stuff animal, pom poms put a perky pouf where there once was nothing but pedestrian plainness.

At dinner parties, they spruce up our table settings as flower-like decorations handmade from tissue paper by those among us who are craftier than others.


At high school or college sporting events, no match is complete without chirpy cheerleaders and their poised-for-action pom-poms.  The rustling sounds of these balls of synthetic strands extend and express the electric energy of the eager adulator.

As the cheerleaders pound and pulse their pom-poms, the crowd responds with pumped up passion, keeping the sagging spirits of the losing team from sinking to the very bottom.

Not unlike the power of choosing positivity, pom-pom power is both a panacea to the faithful believer and a placebo to the unconvinced skeptic.  As a faithful believer’s panacea, it works its magic to keep morale and motivation at mountain peak.  As a placebo to the unconvinced skeptic, it loses its luster and stops working to prevent an eventual loss in a game or in life.


The jury’s still out on pom-poms.

As a clothing embellishment, it’s not nearly as enthusiastically embraced as lace, sequins monograms or applique.  As a tail on a stuff animal, the believability of its rendering is limited.  On a teddy bear, dinosaur, turtle, doggy or kitty cat, a pom-pom tail is nothing short of a mockery.  On a sweater zipper, it’s often annoying and superfluous.  On a coat or a jacket, it adds an unnecessary illusion of heft; an unwelcome feature at a time when sleek lines and svelte figures are still the gold standard for healthful fitness.

And yet, it is impossibly cute as a tail on an Easter bunny.  It’s justifiably jaunty on a fashionable bright red knit-cap worn on a breezy afternoon bike ride.  And in the hands of a lively cheerleader, you gotta admit, they add undeniable verve and zing to spicing up a happy hooray.

So then, why is it that we don’t go about our daily business with our belts, scarves, shoes and pom-poms?  I mean, we all could use cheering up from time to time couldn’t we?

Is it because we believe the hype of our illusory self-sufficience hook line and sinker?

Is it because we humans don’t readily admit our desire and our need for supportive cheer?

Is it because we’re so stuck in our seriousness and  that we think pom-poms are just silly and annoying?

Is it because we think it’s only acceptable to display and receive boisterous, pom-pommy cheers at sporting events?

Or is it because in the absence of a field or a court or a ball, we don’t always know when to offer support?  We don’t always know how to ask for support?  We don’t always believe we deserve to receive support?  We don’t always know how to admit that we could use some cheering on?  We don’t always know the power we possess to lend a helping hand?

Or perhaps, pom-poms, like human beings, are still evolving, still developing their form and functionality, and are exactly where they need to be in the universal time-space continuum.


What do you think?  Wouldn’t you instantly lighten up if someone pulled out a pom-pom from their bag to cheer you on and cheer you up?  Would you consider having pom-poms at the ready and pulling them out at the appropriate time?  How would you like a world where, pom-pom or no pom-pom, we all knew about our dependence upon one another as well as our immense power to help others?


Image by San Diego Shooter

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tony Single April 5, 2010 at 4:58 am

I’m afraid I’m not a fan of pom-poms at all, or the pom-pom mentality. These things don’t cheer me up or on or in any way whatsoever. Rather, I’m usually left feeling more lethargic and apathetic when pom-poms and their enthusiastic bearers have packed up and gone home. 😛

I wish I knew why that is.


2 J.D. Meier April 5, 2010 at 9:03 am

> The rustling sounds of these balls of synthetic strands extend and express the electric energy of the eager adulator.
I’ll never look at pom-poms the same way again.


3 Nadia - Happy Lotus April 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hi Belinda,

The thing that always floors me is that people no longer seem to have any sense of joy or fun. Maybe it is a Northeast thing but I have had people come up to me so many times and ask me in wonderment as to how can I be such a happy person. The first time it happened, I thought it was strange. But it has happened so many times, it makes me sad.

I think people need to realize that we are in the same boat and we are all connected to one another. Yes, life is tough but so what. No one is immune from suffering and pain. That is a part of reality.

And by all means, people need to lighten up and enjoy life. This adventure won’t last forever!

Great post and message, my friend! 🙂


4 Kristen @ Motherese April 5, 2010 at 10:43 am

Although I’m not a big fan of cheerleading as an institution, I did smile when I pictured someone pulling out a shiny pom-pom to cheer me up on a gray day. I love the connection you drew between pom-poms and a culture that isn’t generally well-versed on asking for and giving support.

Personally, I need to work on asking for help from my own small cheering section and then accepting it when it’s offered – with or without pom-poms.


5 Eran April 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm

If someone pulled out a pom-pom to cheer me up on a gloomy day, I think it might possibly be one of the best things they could do! especially if it went hand-in-hand with a “GOOOO Team!” cheer 🙂 Sometimes something totally ridiculous (like pom-poms) is the only thing that can really pull me out of a slump 🙂

Loved this post!


6 Eva April 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Whoa, I wasn’t sure where this post would lead, Belinda, but you tied it together beautifully! What a great metaphor! I do agree a pom-pom on a knit winter hat is just perfect.

Yes, I think we need more cheering and support in our society. Is there anything better than getting an honest compliment from a coworker or friend? And what does it cost for us to give compliments? Nothing! And to be able to ask for help – openly, without fear of judgment – is a valuable thing. I’m not sure I do it well, but it is something I will work on.


7 Amber April 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Belinda, this post was not only well written but articulated soundly.

I think we as a society tend to focus so much on what divides us, that we fail to recognize what binds us together. Adversity is what each mortal will encounter in this life. As you put it, why not notice that people are experiencing hard ships and cheer them up a little! A smile is small yet goes a long way.


8 Patty - Why Not Start Now? April 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Only you, Belinda, could philosophize about pom-poms in such a fascinating way! I admit I do like those little ones on the back of athletic socks. Little pom-poms are such a bit of whimsy. When I think of a pom-pom, though, I tend to think of cheerleaders. And wouldn’t it be nice right now if we could all (collectively, I mean) let go of our respective teams for awhile and cheer on one great big team? Now that’s something I’d be willing to pick up a pair of pom-poms for!


9 Lauren April 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm


You are funny! Pom poms, who woulda thunk it?

Playfulness is so FUN! I prefer tickling myself. Or playing squirt gun with my 8-year old nephew with the super duper ones that shoot massive amounts of water…or, well, you get the point. You already had the point!

Regarding support. A great topic. Although I am pretty darned self-sufficient, the support of my friends means everything to me. Being loved and supported nourishes me on a deep level. I just love that my friends give me this kind of support.

I can tell that you are one of those people who is a good source of support for your friends and I’ll just bet that you have people who love you and offer support in return – pom pom girlie!


10 Greg Blencoe April 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Hey Belinda,

What a CREATIVE post! I never thought to consider if pom-poms should more a part of daily life!

I’m a bit quirky and love positivity, so I’m all for expanding the use of pom-poms. I think we could all use some more fun moments and encouragement throughout the day. And it would be very hard to not have a smile on your face if somebody pulled out some pom-poms to cheer you up.

I’m for it!


11 Belinda Munoz April 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm

@Tony, no worries. Thanks for weighing in.

@J.D., I can only hope that’s a good thing. Thanks for stopping by.

@Nadia, it’s alarming when people have to ask why someone is so happy. As though the norm is to be miserable and you’re an oddity to want to celebrate life. And yes, I’m all for lightening up! Thanks for your thoughts.

@Kristen, I’d smile too! As for learning to ask for and accepting assistance, I hear you. Thanks for your insight.

@Eran, welcome to The Halfway Point! It would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?! Sometimes, a good dose of the ridiculous is just the thing to give us perspective. Thanks for dropping in.

@Eva, I have a tendency to go on a little tour. Glad you liked it. And yes, a smile, a compliment, to feel free to ask with no fear, these should be easy enough to do and still, so many of us struggle. Thanks for your take on things.

@Amber, so true. One of the many things that bind us is adversity. It’s not unfamiliar to anybody. And yes, a smile, for me, goes a long way, too. Thanks for chiming in.

@Patty, I love your idea of moving on from our respective teams to cheer on the ultimate team. That is pom-pom worthy! Glad to have you back this week. Thanks.

@Lauren, pretty funny, huh? I was a cheerleader for a minute in junior high and it was not at all what I expected. It took a lot of work, a lot of coordination, a lot of fun, and everyone on the team had to have great grades. My husband and used to play with squirt guns in the park. It was a riot! I feel like I need to teach my son first about non-violence before he holds any kind of toy gun. But, very likely, I’m over-thinking things. And yes, how very sharp of you to peg me for a pom-pom girlie! Thanks.

@Greg, glad you liked the little show of creativity here. Like you, I’d be open to expanding the use of pom-poms. Hey, maybe it’ll be the next big thing, huh? I’ve never had anyone bust out a pom-pom out of their purse to wave at me to cheer me up, but if someone were to do it, I think I just might love it! Thanks for exploring this possibility with me!


12 Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities April 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm

“Or perhaps, pom-poms, like human beings, are still evolving, still developing their form and functionality, and are exactly where they need to be in the universal time-space continuum.”

Love it.

What do I think?

I think this pom-pom post is profound. Thank you for making me think.


13 Charlotte Rains Dixon April 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I love that you are pondering pom poms. Who would have thought? And, I want someone to walk behind me with a bag of them to pull out and shake at me when I’m down. I think it would be impossible to be grumpy then.


14 Tess The Bold Life April 6, 2010 at 7:08 am

Hi Belinda,
You’ve brought me back to being 15 and assemblies in high school. I love pom poms and I’m all for cheering on the entire team like Patti suggests. Leave it to her to take it the extra mile and make it something to heal the world. Don’t ya just love blogging? Thanks for the memories.


15 BigLittleWolf April 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

A pom-pom post. I love it!

They may be silly. They may be retro. They may be cheesy. But they are fun. And that’s something we ought to hang on to – or shake our pom-poms, to celebrate.


16 Angela Artemis April 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

Belinda, just thinking of Pom Poms puts a big smile on my face. I’m sure I’d find it hard to resist cracking up no matter what my mood was if someone pulled to fluffy pom poms from their purse and did a cheer for me!


17 Brianna April 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm

What a cool post. I always love reading your blog.


18 Baker April 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Hello Belinda,
This was an interesting post. I wouldn’t mind if someone pulled out pom poms for me and randomly started cheering, I think that would be a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want more fun? 🙂


19 Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice April 7, 2010 at 5:52 am

LOL I’m not sure how I feel about pom poms but you’ve now implanted the idea in my head to somehow include them in my comedy set for this Saturday! 🙂


20 Zengirl @happy heart and mind April 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Interesting read! I always associated pom poms with cheerleaders and not with anything else! 🙂


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: