A troupe of young girls becomes a YouTube sensation due to an energetic dance routine to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, and triggers a moral panic across the nation, due to their costumes and dance moves. And frankly, the people that are worrying about how these girls performance is going to destroy childhood/the future of feminism/ etc are missing the point. Here are a group of passionate, energetic girls with spades and spades of talent, and instead of congratulating them on a job well done, we are telling them that they are bad influences.
Why is it that many adults whine and complain that young children are too exposed to technology at too young an age, that children don’t get enough physical activity in their daily lives, that children aren’t motivated enough, and then, when incredibly active, passionate, talented children get national attention, they seem to jump at the chance to pick them apart (They are wearing too much makeup! Those outfits are trashy! The choreography is inappropriate! Where are their parents? What parent would let these kids to such a thing? )
I spent a great deal of my young life in acting and dance classes, so complaints that these girls appearances are some sort of reflection on the evils of an over-sexed, patriarchal society ring false. Performers (of all genders) wear makeup at dance recitals and competitions to be seen by the audience. Just as in theatre and film, facial expressions are important when performing in a dance routine, so it’s important that the audience sees your face. And when I told my dance teachers that eyeliner/mascara irritated my eyes, they understood, and didn’t make me wear it. And strangely enough, ten years or so of performing in various and sundry costumes, wigs and makeup hasn’t harmed me much. Hell, it’s my calling.
. While I do think that two-pieced, fringed dance outfits aren’t’ the best choice for 7-year olds to wear, I think that it’s a bit of a stretch to say that these children are going to be irrevocably harmed, or that they are dragging Society As We Know It down to Hell in a sparkly dance bag. I can vouch that dance costumes were just as ri-goddamn-diculous thirteen years ago as they are now. My first dance costume (when I was seven) was reminiscent of a Vegas showgirls costume. And strangely enough, when I wasn’t decked out in my costume and makeup, I behaved like a fairly normal seven year old. I climbed trees. I got my clothes dirty. I collected frogs. I did not spend a lot of time trying to become a 90’s Lolita
That’s the thing about performance: When you are onstage singing/dancing/acting/a combination of the three, you are not the same person who walked into the dressing room wearing sweats, with your costume in a drycleaner’s bag, carrying your tackle box full of makeup. And besides practicing your dance steps while waiting in line at the grocery store, you return to your normal, sweat-pantsed life when you take off your costume, and wash off your makeup.
These girls and their choreographer probably created this routine because they wanted to have fun with a popular song. Not because they were trying to be sexy. Hell, even babies have been filmed dancing to “Single Ladies”. And when compared to entering babies in beauty pageants, and those awful high heeled shoes for babies, a baby awkwardly dancing is perfectly fine.
There is an oil spill comparable to the Exxon/Valdez catastrophe that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. is still recovering from a massive economic meltdown. There are two wars being fought in the Middle East. Why are we treating this as anything more than what it is: just another viral Youtube phenomenon?

  • Sarahbear

    I don’t think I could have said it better myself. As a former dancer and flag girl I was pretty shocked by the response to that video. Of the things that we as a nation should be uncomfortable and outraged about, dancing little girls is pretty low on the priority list.

  • The Beautiful Kind

    I think there are plenty of ways to celebrate youth, talent, entertainment, and performance without hypersexualizing young girls. I would LOVE to check in with those girls 15 years from now and see what they’re up to compared to a similar sample group. Will they be getting A’s in college? Will they have a career in dance? Will they be drugged out porn pawns?

    I showed the video to my 9 year old daughter and asked her what she thought of it. She said, “I think they should have a right to do that, but I think they should do it at home and not on a stage in front of a bunch of grownups.” In other words, she thought they were being exploited.
    .-= The Beautiful Kind´s last blog ..You Are The Beautiful Kind: Shanna Katz/Essin’ Em =-.

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  • CaramelAh

    When I was a little girl, I performed in dance as well, and one outfit that just sprang to mind was for a song called “Dancing Poodle”. The outfit was just as revealing as these girls’, but in a virginal white.
    I am sure that a main difference is that my parents would have objected to the specific dance moves (some of them are in low taste), you hit the mark–the point is, these girls are excited to be dancing and proud that they are good at what they do. That is a recipe for a healthy self-esteem. It isn’t like these girls get dressed up and parade around the their neighborhoods or schools like this. It is so easy for us to overlook while criticizing these girls that clothing stores now have grown-woman styles in child sizes–that mothers can now buy matching provocative outfits with their 5-, 7-, 9-year old daughters (child-size heels; little girl training bras now have padding as the standard). Perhaps that passive slipping in fashion is what is really doing the damage on most of America–after all, it is passing by relatively unnoticed.

  • Airen

    I have to agree. I thought the routine was amazingly difficult and was executed with passion. I loved it.

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