Back in the olden days, when a high school cheerleader broke up with her boyfriend, she had to worry about rumors in the cafeteria. Today, she has to worry about comments from hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, some of whom aren't even teens. The relationship drama of "cheerlebrities" is an IRL soap opera that fans follow intensely. Last night, cheer fans went nuts when one cheerleb posted a photo of herself with another cheerleb's ex-boyfriend.
When The Wire first investigated the cheerlebrity phenomenon in the distant days of mid-December 2013, Texas high school sweethearts Carly Manning and Matt Smith were the reigning It couple of Cheer World. Carly has over 370,000 followers on Instagram and at least 5 different Facebook fan pages. Matt, a male cheerleader, has about 45,000 Insta followers. He's popular, but girls rule the cheerlebrity roost. Together, though, fans loved them — some even made Youtube video tributes to the couple, and some dressed up like the couple for Halloween. But over the course of December, Carly and Matt deleted all their Instagram photos together, leading fans to panic that "Marly" broke up. One commenter seems sure it's over: "It's pretty obvious. They deleted all the pictures of each other and changed their relationship statuses."
Now, it appears Matt spent New Year's Eve with another blonde cheerlebrity, Cami Branson. He posted a photo last week that sparked insane drama among fans. Cami is about as popular as Carly, commanding more than 330,000 Instagram followers.
After Matt posted the photo, some commenters asserted that he and Cami are now dating. Others claimed Matt cheated on Carly with yet another blonde cheerleb, Peyton Mabry. Carly, Peyton, and Matt all attend the same gym, Cheer Athletics, in Texas. Cami used to cheer at CA, but now she cheers at Spirit of Texas. The photo has almost 300 comments.
Carly is a CA Wildcat known for her kick double (below). Cami has a perfectly-extended star basket (right). Both girls are revered by other cheerleaders for these tricks. One fan posted a Mean Girls meme to Tumblr: "One time, I based Carly Manning's kick double and she kicked me in the face. It was AWESOME!" Matt Smith cheers on CA Cheetahs, Cami's old team.
Adding fuel to the fire, Cami reposted Matt's photo to Instagram last night, this time with a blushing emoji. That inscrutable message seems to have freaked out fans even more.
Cami's photo has been "liked" over 16,000 times. Commenter cateboudreaux, who doesn't seem to know any of the cheerlebs involved, is really upset:
why matt?! you cheated on carly for peyton! this isn't cool. you know carly really loved you and you just played her. why would you do this? you need to get your act together..
There are hundreds of other comments to that effect. Some have asked Cami why she would steal her "friend's bf." Pinterest photos suggest that Cami and Carly were, at least at one point, friends.
Carly has responded to the drama on Twitter by asserting her single status, and reminiscing about times gone by:
weird how things change so easily— Carly Manning (@carlygonewild) January 6, 2014
Now, fans are choosing sides in a girl-fight that may or may not exist. The #teamcarly hashtag has been picking up steam on Instagram since Sunday night. But one commenter doesn't want to choose between her favorite cheerlebs (who are real teenagers who attend high school, not stars on the WB):
Another insists that the drama is "none of our business" :
Cheerlebrities, who have become Insta-famous by posting a mix of cheerleading shots and selfies, do get the perks of fame. Plenty of fans post positive comments on their photos, and most cheerlebs have some kind of endorsement deal with a hair bow company. But the Carly-Matt-Cami episode shows that being wildly popular on social media as a 16-year-old, famous or not, isn't always fun. Instagram, it seems, just magnifies how terrible high school can be.
Correction: This article originally identified Carly as a CA Panther and Cami as a CA Cheetah. Carly has since moved to the CA Wildcats, and Cami now cheers for Spirit of Texas.