Monday, May 17, 2010

Sexy Dancing or Pushy Parents?

Have you seen this video recently?

GOOD GRIEF.  The dancers in that video are seven and eight year olds from a dance troupe out of Orange County, CA.  I started to cry as I watched the video for the first time; how could this have happened?  It's easy - now that the video has gone viral and been on several news shows- to point the finger of blame at the coach and parents.  Obviously they shoulder the blame for allowing this to come to fruition, but society is the real culprit.  Multiple organizations failed to prevent this performance.

The parents of some of these girls were intereviewed on Good Morning America on May 14th and asked to respond to comments about the suggestive dance moves and costumes.  A comment from World of Dance spokesman Larry Peters pretty much sums up what they had to say "there was NOTHING provocative about what they were doing."  It's clear that both the parents and the organization who sponsored the dance event, World of Dance, see this as nothing out of the ordinary.  I would have to assume the the coach/choreographer feels the same way as the parents, and the administrating organization who runs the dance troupe.  I have to assume that the dance costumer who designs and manufactures lingerie-like costumes in seven year old sizes has no problem with any of this either.  It would be nice if this issue was isolated and we could blame the parents, then move on.  I believe the reason people are so riled up is because this is an epidemic, not an isolated incident.

In the last year we've seen multiple headlines centering on "outrageous" actions of young celebrities; everything from Vanessa Hudgen's nude cell phone pictures and Miley Cyrus' racy photo shoot to Lindsay Lohan's descent into further debauchery through drugs, partying and promiscuousness.  But I have to ask, is it really that radical if it happens so often?  Skimpy dresses and unbecoming conduct that caused Marilyn Monroe to be called "vulgar" by Joan Crawford are common media fodder for teen girl celebs now.  Dancing styles once limited to MTV music videos and pop stars are now being emmulated by grade school aged girls.  It's not just dance troupes either, check this out:

Our culture promotes the sexualization of girls, and it's reaching progressivley younger audiences.  There's a show on TLC called "Toddlers and Tiaras" about beauty pageants for kids.  Like JonBenet Ramsey, these girls are made up, perfectly coiffed and paraded around by their parents.  Is it any shock that girls have gone the road of Abigail Breslin's character in "Little Miss Sunshine" who danced a burlesque number as her talent for a pageant?  Parents have defended this by saying the grils are just doing as they're told and have no understanding of the moves some consider provocative.  So that makes it alright?  Who benefits when these young girls dress suggestively, act suggestively and dance suggestively?  Certainly not the girls who are being taught and shown that without exploiting their looks and "femininity" they won't succeed at anything!

So who's to blame here?  Everyone.  And without a dramatic cultural shift, seven year old being taught sexy dance moves is only going to be the beginning.  Let's re-examine ourselves, stop teaching our youth to misuse their bodies and model good behavior for them.  If one of those parents had watched their daughter practising "Single Ladies" and said "Not MY daughter!", how might things have turned out differently?  We'll never know until we try.


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