I have been debating how to handle Part 2 of the Little Girl post I wrote that highlighted the indecent dance recital outfit my three-year old was given for her tap performance to Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. I received a ton of comments – on the blog, on Facebook, in my inbox. And it raised a half dozen issues I wanted to take up – how hard it is for working moms to be engaged in their kids extra-cirriculars, how inappropriate society is treating our girls, how varied a given experience can be. But here’s what settled me on taking up this second post – little bit had her dress rehearsal for her recital this week. I got her dressed and attended. These were my impressions: many girls were so overmade that there is no “stage” justification for it when they’re three; I felt like I was behind the scenes at one of those toddler reality shows; some performances were lovely but some were already sexualized even though the girls were in grade school. Heck, my daughter’s company was dancing in a bee-bikini to a song about being in a teeny bikini.
Before I go any further, let me say I realize that many moms have had positive healthy experiences at certain dance companies. Music and performances and costumes were appropriate. Their daughters gained confidence from the experience. I applaud you for encouraging that. The reality is, that’s not been my experience. I will not be returning to the dance company in the fall and little bit is excited about the chance to take gymnastics again which, when given the choice of summer classes, she self-selected.
First of all, almost every mom in our dance group that I talked to was upset about the costumes. As far as I could tell, only one other one actually complained to the dance company. This has to be instructor driven because I saw other young tap recital numbers during the dress rehearsal that were positively precious.
Second of all, the ballet and tap performances were absolutely adorable. It’s not actually lost on me that all this corporate cuteness is why a lot of folks might reconsider their decision to pull out of the dance school. And, my little one has quite the stage presence and it might actually nurture this side of her personality. However, as far as I can tell, she has no problem showing us drama at home so I don’t know that her attitude and drama need encouragement.
Third of all, it’s a huge financial commitment. These classes and costumes are expensive. And we’re on a new budget this year with private school coming in the fall. If my point is to encourage either confidence or strength or coordination or activity (all of which I think she already has a good start on at 3), then I will put her in a reasonably priced gymnastics class and get the same benefit.
But principally, and finally, I can’t square this dance company’s ideas for our girls, and many dance companies ideas for our girls, with what I believe God’s ideas for our girls are. I’m sure you couldn’t have missed it, but there was a pastor in the Houston area with a three-year old daughter that wrote an open letter to Victoria’s Secret challenging their decision to debut a new line for middle school girls that were so sexualized as to have Wild emblazoned across the rear of lace black cheekster underwear. I don’t know anything about this man or his positions on faith, but his statements in this letter I wholeheartedly agree with, “I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence. Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? Do I want to go to Texas A&M or University of Texas or some Ivy League School? Should I raise awareness for slave trafficking or lack of water in developing nations? There are many, many more questions that all young women should be asking themselves… not will a boy (or girl) like me if I wear a “call me” thong?”
While the dance company was not that egregious, plastering heavy make-up on preschoolers while having them dance in bikinis to songs about bikinis is pretty far off the mark. How can I teach my boys to treat women with dignity and respect and not sexual objects if I’m parading their sister around in next to nothing dancing to songs like Wild Thing in elementary school? How can we prevent the gross sexual assaults running rampant in our country if we parade girls around as nothing more than sexual objects? While it’s an entirely different post, I encourage you to read Ann Voskamp’s post about Steubenville where she speaks to our sons about the integrity with which a woman should be treated. And she shares how Christ, from the very beginning treasured women and respected them, “That Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men. Christ came to the defense of a hurting woman and the Son of Man stood between her ache and her attackers and He lifted the weight of shame from her and cupped her heart with hope and wrote a new future into the dust and dirt of everything and he saved. her. life. That’s how God loves His daughters with His defense.”
It starts so early, friends. Oh, the line keeps getting moved further and further back. And pretty soon, the line will disappear. We have to stop it. We have to say enough already. We have to say we’re going to let our girls be girls and protect their purity and innocence longer.