Saving Girls’ Dance From Exploitation

By Cordelia Anderson

In the September 2011 issue of People Magazine, the mother of the girl (at right) says her daughter is not doing anything inappropriate or provocative — just a dance routine that is age appropriate.  Part of the insidious and seductive nature of the normalization of sexual harm is that things that have been seen by many as harmful — if not criminal — have become accepted as “just the way it is”.  The ripple effect of this normalization oftentimes results in the person that is questioning this type of dance routine being blamed for suggesting there may be a problem.  In fact, a father at a recent training said that when he raised questions about the choice of costumes and dance moves of chosen for his daughter’s dance class, the teacher and other parents questioned his motives.  They suggested that perhaps it was he who had the problem for looking at the girls in such a way.

Dance is a powerful movement.  It is a great way for children to develop strength, self-confidence, and expression.  Children’s dance costumes and routines should not showcase them as if they are miniature adults, nor as hyper-sexualized objects.  We can Demand the Change for Children.  We can inspire a change of heart by talking to studios, instructors, and other parents about the importance of letting our children be children.  Let’s all take a role in raising our girls to grow up knowing their appeal, strength, and self-worth comes from within  — not as sexual objects.  We can demand the change with the current trend of dance performances featuring girls’ sexiness and sex appeal, and instead provide these opportunities to feature — not to mention celebrate — their hard work, dedication, dance ability as well as their love of dance.

As parents, we can mobilize and Demand the Change by looking for studios that are committed to teaching girls how to dance and perform in ways that showcase the powerful, talented, and wondrous individuals they are.  As caring adults, we all can ask studios to have language in their policies that builds on the assets and strengths of children and in no way diminish such skills by sexualizing or exploiting them.  We all can Demand the Change for Children.

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