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.
I regularly read your blog, but never post. I love your post on this subject! With 2 young daughters of my own, ages 3 and 5, I wholeheartedly agree with this post. I keep telling my husband that if we don’t teach them modesty now, how can we expect them to be modest when they are teenagers. I am also a working mom, struggling to find the balance between all the commitments, and I really enjoying reading all of your post.
Thank you Mindy for commenting. I was worried I would take a lot of heat for this, but I’m really concerned about what’s becoming “mainstream” for our young girls…thanks for the encouragement.
I’ve never commented on your blog, but I want to say, “WAY TO GO!” I wish more parents would stand up for their beliefs. Unfortunately, this is not just limited to dance costumes. I took my daughter shopping for spring clothes and we left many stores because the outfits they sold just were not appropriate for little girls.
You’re right Leslie – I’m so worred about when we leave the “Ts” – we’re in 4T now & I’ve seen the girls clothing department and am hoping to find some good options outside of what’s taking over the market (even at Carter’s the shorts are super shortie!)
AGREE completely! I signed my daughter up for a dance class thinking it would be sweet. And, for the most part, it has been. (Aside from the drama with the teacher’s 8 year old daughter causing problems with the little darlings in class as she was the “helper”). Our recital costumes are pretty cute-very “princess-y” and they are dancing to a song about Mr. Golden Sun. But, just this week I heard about the make up. I expected a light dusting of my bare minerals and some lip gloss. Apparently I am way off the mark. The teacher was like, “The hardest part at this age is the false lashes.” Um, that will be a big heck to the no. They already grow up so fast, I just feel like society pushes them along even faster.
We found a “Christian” dance theater. Based on what others experience, I think ours is somewhat better. But, I’m not going to lie, some of the older (5, 6,7 year olds) kids are put in things that I think are inappropriate. Silly me, I pictured ballet with the leotards and flowing skirts….not the glitz, glam, and hip hop type stuff that is down the pipe line. I think next year we will stick with Tumblebus and forego dance altogether.
Falsh eyelashes! Oh my mercy!!! What killed me was the three year old with hair extensions – are you kidding?!?!?
Kristin Taylor says
My girl Cate (she’s almost 6) did ballet for a semester and it was fine. I appreciated that it was only ballet and they taught manners as part of it. But, really, my girl probably isn’t going to be a ballerina. (She doesn’t have that kind of build!) I don’t think it’s an area to pursue because we are banning dance team and cheerleadering. So while the class she was in wasn’t bad at all, we don’t see where it will lead.
I’m proud of you for standing up for these values and making decisions that reflect a big picture of how you want to train your kids.
Well said, friend!
Thanks Kristin! If this is what ballet/tap is, then my guess is cheeleading will definitely be out by the time she gets around to it 🙂
I am so glad that my 5 year old continues to not want to take dance classes. She has done soccer at school and is now going to do a local running series for the next 2 months. Her good friend is 11 and we go to watch her dance frequently. Her friend is on the junior dance team and my complaint with that is the fact that she is 11 and has to dance 5 to 7 nights a week, no kidding. During pagent season she is sometimes at practice for 3+ hours. Well they have turned her off of it, she has decided to not do it next year. I have also noticed a focus on how she looks and perhaps that is because she is 11, I am not sure. The costumes and dance routines have been very modest to shocking.
I will have to say that one thing that really has me mad is the padded bras in the preteen section. We pad training bras now?? I see them everytime I look for my daughter’s size 5 clothes and yes, size 5 and up clothing designers evidently now think they are mini teenagers evidently.
Oh good grief Carrie – what a mess. I had no idea. We have to teach our girls to be strong and comfortable not doing what so much of the “mainstream” suggests is the thing to do……
Hi Gindi–I am a new reader of your blog, and I have to say, I just love your posts. You have written so many things about the Christian walk that have really impacted me in a positive way. I love love love how you wrote about Jesus here, and how amazingly protective and loving He was/is towards women. Thank you for sharing that! I am so bothered by the over-sexualization of young girls in our culture as well, and I really appreciate you taking a stand for your daughter.
Mary – thank you SO much. I really am grateful for the encouragement. I’m always having to rely on my faith to keep me from being scared at how sexualized young girls are becoming all around, but all we can do is change what is within our power to change. So I’ll be the annoying mom that says, NO!
Woot woot for you, Gindi! Our girls were in dance school years ago when they were 3 and 6 (they are 25 and 28 now). While the costumes were appropriate—the theme was Under the Sea—we felt the cost was just too much. We paid a great deal every month for dance lessons Sept-June, but Jan-June was spent drilling for the show in June, so they weren’t learning anything new. And yes, we had to pay a lot for tickets to see our kids in the show. We only did one year, and we nicknamed the school the Jenkins School of Check Writing.
I think you did the right thing. You may find you are alone in doing it most of the time, however. It is a lonely place to be, doing the right thing—having fought with the school system for decades myself—but it’s the only way I can sleep at night, knowing I said something.
Thanks Kim – it’s always good to hear the encouragement from moms who have been there before me!