In the current and bizarre climate of “Dance Moms,” pageant mothers gone wild, “Princess by Proxy,” and horrifyingly sexualized children, it’s hard to imagine how things could get much worse. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a story about a mother who puts her four-year-old in butt padding and fake boobs.
In such confusing times, should parents simply avoid giving their kids dancing lessons or putting them on the stage until they turn twenty-one? Should they forbid their grade schooler to take gymnastics or acting lessons for fear they’ll be cast as Marilyn Monroe at the age of seven? Of course not. But with the worst examples currently serving as the most publicized norm, how can parents recognize and set the proper boundaries and responsibly protect their children?
I found a welcome, real-life example recently, at a dance recital I happened to attend by the Studio “M” Dancers. This was an extensive recital at an outdoor festival in Northern Colorado which featured dancers of all ages, some as young as three and four. It was particularly refreshing to see children enjoying themselves, dancing to modern but not suggestive music, not dressed up to look like Las Vegas show girls or worse, prostitutes, and wearing little if any makeup. Their costumes were charming and even flashy but not age-inappropriate. It’s possible for children to dance and entertain without being thrust into premature sexuality, but to do that, there must be an adult in charge who understands boundaries and is committed to setting them.
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I spoke to the director of Studio “M” Dance, who said she fights this cultural pressure all the time. I wasn’t surprised. She has even lost a student or two, who may have been more influenced by Jennifer Lopez or Lady Gaga than by…who? Is there a healthy example in the current culture for a young girl today? To find it, you may just have to go to a small town and attend a homegrown dance recital. Cheer for them and support them. Thank you Studio “M” for doing it “right.”