I’m the youngest of three and the only girl in my family. Dragged from soccer game to soccer game from the time I was an infant, it was only natural that my parents put me on my own little pee-wee soccer team once I turned 5. A short period of gymnastics followed when I was 8, then a few years of softball, until I settled and stuck with volleyball until I graduated from high school. Sometime around middle school/early high school I started bugging my mom about why she had never put me in dance classes. One of my best friends was an incredible dancer and I was envious of her grace, poise, and talent. From that day on, I vowed that if God ever chose to bless me with a daughter, I would make sure she had at least some dance classes.
Think you read the title of this post wrong?
Brandon and I were talking the other night about how dance is one of the activities we are fairly set against any of our future daughters (or sons) participating in. Here are a few of our reasons.
1) The sexualization of little girls. This is probably our biggest reason. While neither of us has a problem with dancing per se, we do have a problem with much of the style of dancing that is increasingly being taught at a young age. We see no reason for our 5, 8, or 12 year old to be taught how to shake different parts of her body or move in a sensual manner. While we do realize not all styles of dance fall into this category, the sex factor seems to be becoming more and more pervasive. (i.e. consider how shows like Dancing with the Stars have impacted ballroom dancing). Additionally, even though our children might not be participating in a certain dance style, we see no need for her to be exposed to it at a studio.
2) The costumes. This ties in fairly close with #1. I would never put my little girl in a bikini or booty shorts - so why would it be okay for me to send her on stage to perform in such an outfit? Again, while there are some studios that are more conservative in this area, the general consensus seems to be that cute little tutus fade out once you hit 6.
3) The expense. Dance is expensive. The classes, the costumes, the shoes....it all adds up fast! This past weekend I was talking to some friends who mentioned their parents paid upwards of $8,000 a year for their middle school daughter to be involved in dance (ironically the 7th grader had just quit). Brandon and I are open to our children trying new things, and both loved playing sports ourselves, but we are not willing to spend anywhere near that on an extracurricular activity. Even if you aren’t spending that much, costs still quickly add up.
4) The community. Ever see the Lifetime show Dance Moms? If you haven’t, don’t worry, you aren’t missing anything (although I have been known to watch the last few minutes of the show to see these incredibly talented 8-12 year olds perform). Essentially, the show centers around several clique, catty, and nasty women who bicker over their daughters dance careers. Like most reality TV shows, I figured the drama was an exaggeration. Then recently I sat down with 2 friends who had both spent their K-12 years dancing....and they assured me the show wasn’t far from the truth. Both also had siblings who had been involved in other sports, and while they agreed that there could be catty and aggressive parents in other activities, they also agreed that there was something about dance that seemed to breed negativity and jealousy.
5) The ED fear. The friend whose dancing skills I admired growing up shared something in common with me - anorexia. Obviously I didn’t dance and still ended up with an eating disorder, but if you hear her tell her story, she will tell you that her distorted body image developed after years of pressure from her dance friends and teachers to remain thin and spending hours dancing, examining, and criticizing herself in front of a mirror. While gymnasts and ice skaters are also known for being more susceptible to eating disorders, dancers are at the top of the list.
I should close with saying that I’m sure there are some wonderful, more conservative, Christian dance programs out there, and neither Brandon nor I have anything against appropriate dancing. While we are open to investigating the situation if we have a daughter who is particularly interested in taking a class, it certainly won’t be an extracurricular activity that we automatically place our daughter in, nor will we be easily convinced that it is something our family should participate in.