Dance Teachers: Please Put Some Clothes On Your Students

Dance Teachers, we need to talk. You have got to stop sending children out to dance in public in their underwear. Maybe you’ve added some rhinestones to that underwear or maybe you’ve strategically placed a piece of chiffon somewhere but come on…underwear is underwear and we all know it.

And Dance Parents, you shouldn’t allow your children to do this, even if your Dance Teacher thinks its okay.

I go to dance recitals and competitions and feel like I’m in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Surely I’m not the only adult among the hundreds in attendance who thinks it’s inappropriate to send kids on stage to dance in their knickers. Am I?

You may be wondering what qualifies me to state such an opinion, so here are my credentials:

  • I’ve been involved in dance either as a student, a performer or a teacher since somewhere around 1963.
  • I started my daughter’s dance training at a traditional ballet school but when she was lured by the showy world of competition dance, I was sucked into being a Dance Mom.
  • I created an arts education program for kids with special needs and dance represents a significant chunk of what we do at Merrimack Hall.

Surely this sufficiently convinces you that I’m an expert on the topic of dance competitions…but I have been called an opinionated know-it-all before so feel free to disregard my impressive resume and chalk this up to me being obnoxious. It won’t be the first time I’ve stated a strong opinion that I was convinced was irrefutable only to have people tell me I’m being an asshole.

I am not a prude. If you know me, you know that I excel at cussing and have strong liberal leanings. I have an open mind about most things, particularly the arts. But as the years have rolled along, I’ve watched kids’ dance costumes get smaller and smaller and  now…well, costumes seem to have disappeared altogether, replaced by what they call “hot shorts” or “bloomers” worn with what appear to be bras from Victoria Secret while they are performing for an audience, under the glare of stage lighting. I’m not sure what I find the most objectionable – sending 8-year-olds out onstage dressed like this or sending 17-year-olds in this attire.

Maybe Dance Teachers think they are costuming their students like the people they aspire to be…perhaps Misty Copeland or Beyonce. So, I offer you Exhibit A:

MIsty Copeland

Misty Copeland is not covered up in this photo or in the incredible commercial she filmed for the Under Armour campaign. But…

  • She’s Misty Copeland.
  • She’s a grown woman.
  • This is an ad for base garments, otherwise known as UNDERWEAR and is not apparel that is advertised as a dance costume.
  • Notice that both the photo and the video take place in a rehearsal space…not on stage in front of an audience.

And take Exhibit B:


I adore Beyonce and think she is a positive, empowering role model for girls. Obviously, she isn’t wearing much in this photo. But:

  • She’s Beyonce.
  • She’s a grown woman.
  • She’s Beyonce.

I’m guessing that even Mrs. Carter would Exhibit C objectionable:

Single Ladies

I could go on and on about this picture and the dance these 6-years-olds performed, which nearly blew up the internet when the video went viral a few years ago. This specific dance and the controversy around age-appropriateness was a hot topic back in 2010 on Dr.Phil, with Anderson Cooper and with many other reputable journalistic outlets.

But I’m just focusing on the costumes right now.

I’ve seen dozens of teenagers dancing in “costumes” like Exhibit D (which is featured in an online dancewear catalogue) at competitions and recitals:


See what I mean? She might as well be naked. But she’s a professional model, she is in a rehearsal space, there’s no one else in the photo and the catalogue calls this item “activewear,” perfect attire for dance class, yoga, pilates etc. It is important for dancers to be able to see their bodies, to check their turn out and lines while taking class in front of unforgiving mirrors. Dance class is one thing but in front of an audience? I vote no.

This trend seemed to start when young dancers stopped wearing tights. But you can dance barefoot while wearing footless tights, you know. And at least tights would add a layer. I sat next to a man at a competition recently and he told me that he couldn’t watch dancers dressed like this – said it made him extremely uncomfortable so he scrolled through Facebook during these numbers. His daughter is only 7…by the time she’s a teenager, they may just be wearing a thong and pasties.

I thought costumes were supposed to enhance a dance piece or advance the story of the dance. Have a look at Exhibit E:

shutterstock_291046667 copy

This stock photo is representative of a photo I saw where about 25 teenage girls were wearing sequined bikinis while dancing on scaffolding. What story could a dance teacher be telling that requires girls to wear bikinis while dancing on scaffolding? Maybe the dance teacher who chose to costume her students like this is actually preparing kids for careers as erotic dancers. I have nothing against erotic dancers and quite enjoy a well-done strip show…when the performer is over 21, everyone in the audience is over 21 and I’m enjoying a nice cocktail. At a “family friendly” dance competition…not so much.

Now, I realize that there are categories of people who perform in public wearing in very little clothing – like track and field stars or gymnasts. They are wearing garments that are aerodynamic and help improve their speed or they are wearing leotards because anything else would get tangled up on the uneven bars. Of course, dance teachers have to insure that the costume they select won’t trip up their dancers or impede their movement. But there’s a line of good taste and I hate to be the one to tell you but Dance Teachers, you have crossed that line.

So, Dance Teachers, please rethink your costuming choices. And Dance Parents, please voice your objections to costumes like these, if you have them. Barely there costumes like these do not make a dance more competitive and parents shouldn’t be afraid to voice concerns over immodest attire.

Maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m just being an asshole but I think our kids deserve better.

Stay tuned…in future posts, I will offer my expert opinion on tilts, leg extension, crotch shots, props, music selection and much, much more.


246 thoughts on “Dance Teachers: Please Put Some Clothes On Your Students

  1. Thank you! From another dancing mom who is over this trend as well. I was recently at a beautiful performance where a scantly clad dancer performed a Native American dance. It was amazingly graceful and showed his strength and body form right up until his junk made its appearance. After a gasp went thru the audience, I noticed that some parents told their children not to watch. Isn’t that the purpose of dancing—for the patrons to enjoy watching the ability and the talent–the story behind the dance. Well his story was not what was intended I’m sure. Even after multiple performances the talk was still of the “wardrobe malfunction”. I can envision him in so many other costumes that would have covered and been powerful addition to the movements. You rock on girl. And from one semi-liberal cursing stage mom to another….keep it coming. We got your back! 👯🎭🎶🎤👯

  2. I can remember being at competitions as a coach of a high school dance team and being appalled at the costumes for some of the itty bitty dancers; I also clearly remember my teenage dancers being horrified.

  3. As a mother of a 2 year old boy. And a beautiful niece. I agree with you. I wouldn’t want to see my niece in skimpy clothing attire. Dance teachers want a trophy and they think since its flashy they will get it with trashy clothing. But for a age group of 5-15 there should be rule guidelines for clothing. I’m mean come on it makes me a mother uncomfortable to see kids show half their bodies. It’s basically porn!!! Yet if we mothers take one photo of our kids in a diaper we automatically get dhs called for child pornogrophy. Basically these new dance outfits are the same thing…. Sorry to you dance teachers or strippers. Y’all do what y’all must to to provide for your family. But for children there should be guidelines.

  4. Perhaps the comments would best be addressed at the judges. As long as they give preference to the ones that are scantily clad, the trend will continue.

  5. i danced for 16 years, from the time I was 3 until I was 19…we didn’t wear costumes that looked like underwear, but I foo remember marching inn parades in sequined covered leotards, & performing in recitals wearing costumes that covered no more than a one piece swimsuit…when my daughter took dancing, she wore a practice outfit (not a leotard) that was two pieces, the top was basically like a sports bra & the bottoms looked like panties with a tiny skirt attached…but she was 3, it wasn’t sexual, it was cute…I do believe that the sexiness of a performance costume is in the eye of the beholder…I personally had a conversation with my husband tonight with regards to the sexual moves that many high school dance teams & cheerleaders perform, so yes, I do believe there is a point where young people are too sexualized, but I’m much more concerned about the performances than what they’re wearing…my daughter has worn a bikini to swim in public pools & at public beaches every summer since she was 2…I don’t find spandex shorts & sports bras to be offensive on 6 year olds in a dance recital…to see those 6 year olds “twerking” their backsides to an audience, I would find completely inappropriate…I know this is an opinion, & from some if the comments I read, I’ll probably get some negative responses…but I honestly don’t think my daughter’s dance teacher was trying to prepare her for a career as a stripper (my daughter wouldn’t even consider a job at a “Hooters” type restaurant…I thought she & her classmates were cute in all of their costumes…

  6. I think those commenting that dancers who wear these costumes will turn into porn stars or erotic dancers when they grow up should be ashamed of themselves. As a dancer who grew up in the exact world and costuming the author condemns, I can guarantee that absolutely NONE of my fellow dancers (or myself) turned out this way and that my dance friends were actually the ones who respected our bodies the most growing up. We were the ones who, through dance, gained confidence and learned the value of what our bodies can do. Because of the confidence dance gave us, we didn’t need to be “whoring” around to get it elsewhere, whereas my “non-dance” friends were the ones whose parents would be ashamed of the things they were doing. Also, we understood that the costumes are all part of a performance, and that it is not real life. Similar to how swimmers don’t think it’s appropriate to wear a speedo around in public, we know costumes are for competition and competition only – in a space where those in attendance USUALLY understand the same thing. Those who are viewing six year olds as sexual need to take a look at themselves and not automatically assume that six year old is going to be a slut for it. Have a little faith in your girls, people… Or they will turn out that way

    • Yes!! Thank you for this! You said exactly what I was thinking. I have 2 teenage girls that have been doing competition dance for over 8 years. They are confident, intelligent, hard working young ladies. Outside of dance they dress very modestly. Nothing about dance is sexual for them!

      • I think the writer was thinking about hoe these young girls look. It’s not only just parents at these events. This is where predators hang out too. It might be innocent to most but to a predator, it’s his next victim. These girls need to cover a little more.

    • you are so right. my daughters danced and no one ever thought that way. you would have to have a sick perverted mind to even think of the girls on stage that way. makes me sick. there are people who walk around in bathing suits that actually show their but and they want to show it. I however am not going to say they are all whoring themselves out. Hey you have a great body you can show it be proud but respect yourself and others. it is like saying her skirt was too short she deserved to be raped . when I was young shorts were short and crop tops were worn with them. I however did not grow up to be a slut married at 20 and still married to the same man. my 28 year old dancer is a foreign Language major and has traveled all over the world and a good girl. my 26 year old is a graphic arts major also not a whore. there are other things to worry about than what dancer have been wearing on stage for many many years. I know many of these dancers have grown to be married and kids of their own and run business; Get a grip people enjoy the art .. even football players take ballet!

    • I think you may have misread that. She wasn’t implying that the dancers would grow up to be any of those thing. She was questioning the intention of the dance teachers in putting the kids in situations that mock those professions.

    • I don’t think the woman who wrote this article was at all saying that if you where these costumes you will definitely become a stripper. She’s just trying to express that those costumes don’t send a good message. Her EXHIBIT C clearly shows an example of when children’s costumes are way overly sexual. These kind of costumes are not flattering (even on grown women, to be honest) and we don’t want girls growing up thinking that they NEED to be sexy. Props to the good moms out there who are raising their daughter’s right- with confidence&respect for themselves and their bodies. Sadly however, his isn’t true of every mom and girl. We should encourage girla as much as we can to feel comfortable and beautiful in anything they put on!! And, there are many, MANY gorgeous costumes to choose from that would cover dancers appropriately. I do agree with you, though, that the nature of the dance has a huge factor in how comfortable I am watching a routine.

  7. I have had daughters in dance for 15 years and have never seen this, perhaps because our studio focuses on classical ballet and does not participate in competitions. I agree that one option is to find a classical, non-competition studio, but that’s not the answer for every dancer. I have one daughter whose natural body fits the slim and narrow ballet aesthetic and she prefers ballet, but my other daughter is naturally curvy and prefers modern dance (though of course she takes ballet for the technical foundation). They both love to dance and they get excellent training from the classical studio but it’s not as good a fit for the curvy modern dancer. However, she’s also very modest and would not want to wear skimpy costumes or participate in provocative choreography. I will keep this post and all the comments in mind as I look for another studio for her. I’m discouraged to read that this may be the norm in the contemporary-oriented studios.

    • Modern and contemporary are two different styles entirely. Modern is an excellent venue for self-expression, strengthening, and movement exploration. Most professional modern companies have youth and young adult training programs. I’d suggest finding a company close to you and enrolling your daughter in classes. 🙂

  8. I think the Olympic committees should read this also…girls who go out on the floor have their arms covered, but that is basically all…the neckline and back is plunging and their bottoms are cut so high the cloth only covers half of their backside and continuing around to the front exposing their hip bones with nothing but a thong covering the front private area….so embarrassed for these young ladies that i cannot watch…..PLEASE cover these girls when performing in front of an audience…

  9. Great post . This year my 11yo daughter fell in love with basketball and quit dance, and I breathed a sigh of relief. But you’re right–it’s ok to be a squeaky wheel. Everything I called around looking for a studio, my two questions were about the quality of the instruction and the costumes. Specifically, do they dress 6 year olds like Britney Spears?

  10. Dancers need to be covered when they compete! I am tired of looking at tilts and seeing way more than I need to! My 3 daughters were in competition and I am a dance teacher of over 40 years with an adult comp. team. What makes me really angry is seeing parents cheering and yelling,” Werk it!” to their own daughters wearing underwear as a costume! So where do we begin to change this…

  11. My 5 year old son is in gymnastics and gets to wear what he feels comfortable in: a t-shirt and athletic shorts. He’s happy, not concerned about his body or clothes, active and having fun.
    Then I look at the girls in the same gym and see them wearing basically swimsuits. Some of the girls are shivering, tugging their tight outfits to cover them more, or looking quite uncomfortable and ill at ease. And sure, some girls look completely happy.

    What bothers me is: my kid wears what he’s comfortable in and the girls can’t. They wear The Female Gymnast Uniform and I’d say a decent portion of them aren’t happy with it. How can we have boys and girls in the same place, doing the same exercises and yet require a different dress code for them? Such a disparity.

    I’m not here to say girls should cover up, I’d just rather the kids wear what they feel confident and strong in. Boys and girls.

  12. You seem to have a lot of support on your blog for your views and that’s wonderful. Why? Those parents can make the choice to send their child to a school that doesn’t dress in two piece costumes. It’s a choice. They can also choose to not have their kids compete and not go to dance competitions where they’ll see bare midriffs. Period.

    Here’s my problem with your post. It’s not the costumes that are the issue. It’s the double standard you’ve set when it comes to dress. It’s okay for adults to be in “underwear” in the case of Misty Copeland because she’s in studio (forgot to mention that she was splashed all over the world in a huge campaign) and Beyonce in a leotard because she’s Beyonce. But, we have to tell our kids to cover up because it’s shameful. We need to stop body shaming and sexualizing children. That’s the problem and I’ve blogged about it here –>>

    As for the costume argument, everyone is going to have to agree to disagree. That’s why every community has lots of dance studios to choose from. You can pick the one that fits your family values and gives your child the dance education that works for you. However, once you do, you need to respect the decision of others to go a different direction. That’s what makes the world go around.

    P.S. Yesterday, I saw a comment from a mom about your pictures. FYI, you can’t just Google and use pictures in your blogs. I am 100% certain that the picture of Misty Copeland, Beyonce and the one you used from a catalog are copyright protected. I would recommend doing a creative commons search before posting anything. Also, if you Google and post pictures of kids that you found on the Internet, they’re not free-reign either. You may wind up with a cease and desist letter from a parent. You would get one from me if I stumbled across my child on your blog. Especially since you are publicly shaming them.

    • ALL. OF. THIS.!! No child should be sexualized for what they wear. They are DANCE COSTUMES & if you don’t like their costumes, don’t look at them. I’m also 100% sure that being comfortable in your skin as an adult, starts by teaching your children to be comfortable in their skin. I see absolutely nothing wrong with their outfits and if you do (the poster) then you are what’s wrong with people. Bravo deb, you nailed it.

      P.s. you aren’t allowed to use pictures of other people’s kids for your post. I imagine the parents that find this are going to be livid. So, good luck with that.

      • If you want to show a child’s talent, flexibility, facials you name it you don’t need these costumes. If people compare these costumes to pole dancers or strippers is only because they are like exactly that. Yes no child should be sexualised by being put into those very inappropriate costumes. Are you trying to convince yourself before anyone else that a competent judge can’t see if a dancer is good enough or if they’re using their muscles correctly if they’re wearing skin coloured tights and a leotard and that it’s everyone else fault that they see these totally inappropriate costumes and choice of music/choreography for what they truly are? You can choose from a variety of songs and there are plenty, and not use single ladies or control to 7 year olds number. Same for costumes.
        Regarding pictures, of course they’re copyright protected yet from the moment you choose to post a picture of your child on the internet is public and can become anyones possession. To use it as an example for a blog it’s according to you unexceptable as it shames the child publicly even though it doesn’t blame the child whatsoever but the adult. Have you ever thought how many peodophiles use theses pictures for personal entertainment? I’m pretty sure it is by far worst.

    • I find it interesting that those of us who find those costumes inappropriate are the ones sexualizing them. I find this logic so mindblowing. If a streetwalker gets dressed for work, it doesn’t take a customer to suddenly make her a prostitute. If an ice cream man is an ice cream man, even if he doesn’t sell an ice cream. If you dress little girls to look like Beyonce, they are selling a sexual image.
      Slut shaming is rampant in this society. No one continues to respect the talent Miley Cyrus has, they scoff her and belittle her for her over-the-top sexual personae. But there is a major difference… she is an adult exploring her sexual side. These are young children who don’t know what a sexual side is and ADULTS are making these bad choices for them.
      My son is autistic. He loves costumes. He gives zero fucks how they actually fit. If he can get it on, it fits. I’ve had to repeatedly tell him that “No. It does not fit.” And it isn’t appropriate for a boy his age to wear something that advertises his junk. Sexual or not, I don’t want to see that. You don’t want to see that. NO ONE NEEDS TO SEE THAT.
      And it makes me sad that people view it as acceptable to dress 3 year olds, 4 year olds, 7, 9, 11 year olds as grown ass women.
      And honestly… if I see Beyonce or Fergie in another fucking leotard, I might hire a hit man. I find it sad when obviously talented women feel they have to sell themselves on sex. Christina Aguilera is incredibly sexual… and tasteful and, in general, I fell her costumes aren’t about “how much skin can I show” but are mostly appropriate to the setting she’s portraying. That girl can rock a 40’s dress.

      • I hate to say this but I don’t know any grown woman that is going to wear a costume with pink rhinestones and feathers unless they’re in Vegas. The picture that this blogger posted of the little girls dressed like Beyonce isn’t the norm. It’s the extreme. Most of the little girl costumes (while they do have bare midriff) are cutesy- at least at our studio. As for your son, if he’s in your home, let him dress however he wants to. He’s just expressing himself and if he’s a little boy, shame on you for calling his private parts “junk.” That’s a prime example of what’s wrong with society. We make people ashamed of their bodies.

    • AMEN ….well said . I find her body shaming article more offensive than what I’ve seen on stage the past 6 years as a dance mom . I think the only thing she did get right was that might be an “asshole”.

    • First of all, it is incredibly tacky for you to come to a blog and offer click bait to get others to come to YOUR blog. While I’m sure you will have some self- rationalizing excuse as to why you did that, it isn’t good etiquette. But I guess I’m just blog shaming you.

      Get real! Expressing an opinion isn’t shaming. Shaming has become one of the most over used words in our constantly offended society. There is no double standard here. We are talking about children, that by definition are under the age of consent, and comparing them to adults that can make a choice as to how they dress. The girls that wear the sexualized costumes are TOLD to by adults. The author here isn’t sexualizing the children. The people putting them into the skimpy, inappropriate costumes that see nothing wrong with them are. These costumes are for the adults, not the children. If you can defend putting them in the skimpy costumes, maybe you should examine why you think this is ok. Like really examine why you think it is ok.

      FYI- One more thing, before giving legal advice you might want to consult with your own attorney. There is such a thing as practicing law without a license that is punishable. I have the degree, so I’m qualified to counsel you on this tidbit. You might want to educate yourself on the public domain laws. There is a solution that involves common sense. If you don’t want your children exploited on the Internet, don’t put their pictures on the Internet. Those pictures could be used for something far more nafarious than a blog post.

    • Your comment is utterly ridiculous. You talk about double standards as if they are a bad thing. But of course it’s reasonable to differentiate between what is appropriate for adults and compared to young children. Why wouldn’t we do that? It’s about choice you say. Well six year old children don’t have the maturity to make an informed choice. And it absolutely IS costumes that are the issue, but it’s not a simple linear issue of how covered or uncovered children are. It’s about costumes AND context. My little nephew sometimes goes nude at the beach and that’s fine, he’s only three. There’s nothing sexualised about that. But those six years in exhibit C are dressed like Paris burlesque strip show dancers. Those outfits are sexualising in a way that makes me want to look away in disgust. And the song makes it even worse. “All the single ladies!” WTAF does that song have to do with a bunch of dancing six year old girls? And how come boys are not fitted out in “sexy” dance kits like this. Why THAT double standard?

    • There is no copyright problem here; the way these pictures are selected and discussed was the epitome of “fair use”.

      “The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC 107

  13. I don’t think you need to be an expert to see it’s not appropriate. Sadly the little girls in the above photo with the red & black outfits look like they work in a strip club & are only missing the pole. I can’t believe someone thought it was OK

    • I totally agree, it’s not appropriate to dress girls in skin revealing clothing of any kind. How about letting the kids help to decide what they want to wear, what they would find comfortable? I have 2 daughters in dance and have never seen these kinds of outfits in our studio worn by anyone. I don’t believe wearing skimpy costumes makes a stripper, however, being comfortable in your own skin and personal confidence does not come from what you wear, you can be happy and healthy and confident wearing clothes that are appropriately covering. The message that is being sent to children and to society is that it is ok to dress children minimally, and in our very sexualized society (we are sexual beings after all) we as parents need to be aware and take responsibility for what our kids do and have conversations with them regarding such.

  14. Please don’t let this be the reason you avoid having your girls in dance. If you are a part of a good studio, they will be open to all parental feedback and will not only never put a child in costumes that parents are uncomfortable with, but will include parents when it comes time to decide on costumes. I’ll admit that I am pretty lax with this as a mom, but I would never judge a mom who insisted on more conservative costumes. I had some serious self-esteem issues as a kid; society puts some serious pressure on girls. I want my girls to feel comfortable in their own skin. Their bellybuttons are adorable and are not something that they should feel shameful about showing or something that should justify them being looked at inappropriately by others… jmo. Some costumes (and dance moves) are very inappropriate and there is no way I would allow my girls to be a part of that (nor would our studio ever put a number like that together). But seeing this on stage has made good teachable moments for my girls. We discuss it. We see this in the real world, too. Any activity that a child is involved in runs the risk of offending parents in some way. If the organizers of such activity are not open to parental feedback, it’s time to move on to the next organizers, not boycott the sport or activity as a whole. My daughters gain so much from dance including confidence, humility, strength, flexibility, friendships, and I could go on and on…. Costume selection is such a minor part dance and a good studio would never want a child in a costume that parents are not comfortable with. If a parent wants their girls to gain all of the benefits from dance, but wants them in more modest clothing, the right studio for that family will make sure that happens. Additionally, it makes no sense to me to say that Beyoncé is a positive role model and that it is OK for her to dress in scarce clothing because she is Beyoncé, but it is inappropriate for her fans to do the same, even while performing on stage. Let’s stop judging others. Let’s not shame those who clearly have good intentions with our children. Let’s not mommy shame and let parents decide what is acceptable and unacceptable for their children. Let’s make the world know that most dance studios are not like the image shown on TV; most studios empower our youth and welcome parental feedback.

  15. I tried to watch the video you shared a link to, I made it through…maybe 30 seconds of the “performance” and had to turn it off. I was too embarassed and like the author am a liberal, openminded, experienced and worldly woman in her forties.

    I blame the hyper-sexualization of young girls on my generation. Madonna certainly paved the way and MTV made sure that everyone saw the videos. What was provocative when I was a teenager is now considered tame. I remember when the video for “Like a Virgin” was so contoversial because of the implied sexuality of an unmarried young woman and what that would “do” to the teen population. And she was fully clothed in the video compared to the young girls performing Beyonce’s song.

    What to do? Yes, cover the young girls up, especially when performing a provocative dance routine like that. But more importantly, why are they dancing to this song when there are hundred of perfectly great musical options. When I was in dance, we always choreographed to the classic show tunes or 50’s rock and roll. SO much fun with great costuming to boot!

    This sort of education – what is and is not appropriate for young girls to listen, watch, dance and dress like starts at home. Parents need to take responsibility for this, not only is it not “cute,” it is not comfortable for the viewer. Young girls are not young women, young women have the sexuality developed to pull this off, young girls are supposed to be innocent and adorable.

  16. My 12 year old daughter is in a dance company where the base costume for all ages is black leotard and black leggings. The director then has three different dances with three different costumes she puts on top. The costumes are clothes that can be worn afterward and very affordable. And the dance recital at the end of every year is incredible!

  17. I agree completely. It is a form of exploiting children. Face it, even if you, as a parent, student or teacher, don’t see the problem, many of us, sometimes the wrong ones, do. Like the dad next to the author said, is very uncomfortable. You may respond with, then those of you seeing it wrong need to control your thoughts… No, stop exploiting your kids and cover them up. There is just no need. It is risque to be risque, to draw an audience -sometimes the wrong audience – face it. I wouldn’t want some creep sitting in his house watching a vital video of my young daughter dancing around in any fashion nearly nude.

    I dance with my kids at Alabama Youth Ballet. I appreciate that our girls are dressed appropriately, especially having my 14 year old son dancing. Starting partnering was “weird” and uncomfortable enough for him, I can’t imagine he would even participated if he were touching bare skin, etc. I’m familiar with Merrimack Hall, and love what you are doing there! Thank you so much for this post, I’ve been saying this for years, sadly, many don’t want to listen to me… Maybe they will listen to you!

  18. It is extremely interesting how even competition dancers have no dress codes. The absolute worst is to see a dancer onstage, whether in a competition OR local dance recital WITHOUT TIGHTS! I do not understand the point of NOT wearing tights. Tights have always made legs look uniform in color and becoming to any dancers type of legs. BUT THE REAL REASON TO WEAR TIGHTS ON STAGE AND DURING CLASSES IS FOR SWEAT ABSORBTION AND SANITARY REASONS!! ( and please NO Hello Kitty underwear sticking out of them!). Ok. Rant over! 👯👯👯

  19. My daughter dances and i actually perfer her to have tight clothes on while dancing. Have you ever tried to dance in a long skirt , even short skirts and bulky tops. Well they can get their foot caught in the skirt and cause them to fall and break something. My daughter has been there done that. When tops are bulky they fly up in their face and they lose their ability to see. Dance has a lot of different moves and motions to it they are not always on both feet with hands to their side. Most dancers turn on one foot, or turn upside down.

  20. When a culture and society has exploited females and sexuality for as long as this one has…children have fallen victim to adults and even to their own parents for centuries. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump…unfortunately, the open acceptance of this reflects the acceptance of what goes on behind closed doors. Everyone thinks it’s cute until the JonBenet Ramseys of society shows up dead! That is usually when people speak out…so kudos to you for writing this post.

  21. It’s just the over-sexualization of children. There is no reason to put young girls into outfits that would be perfectly appropriate on adults. They don’t have breasts yet, so why are they wearing bra like tops? Why can’t we just let children, be children?

  22. While you certainly back up your idea with plenty of examples, the real solution is to STOP SEXUALIZING THESE GIRLS. What they’re wearing is equivalent to a bathing suit which is worn in a much more public place than a dance competition. If society didn’t always have to think that skin is sexy and if it could just accept that it’s our body and that we should be comfortable with it, our problem would be solved. I understand that you (think) you’re upset with “skimpy” costumes, but what is really bothering you is society’s sick and twisted way of sexualizing anything and everything. Please stop nagging on an outfit and maybe find something important to rant about, like society.

  23. I too am a former dancer. Now 45, with a soon to be five year old daughter. This is one of the reasons I have been reluctant to place her in dance. There is absolutely NO REASON for these girls to be showing their midriff. It does nothing to enhance their dancing, or add to the performance. It is simply sexualizing these girls and putting them on display for adults. Yes, the girls are unaware of what it means to have so much skin showing or what dancing provocatively means, but the adults in their lives do know. And they should want better for their girls. It makes me crazy mad. I am also an asshole who is concerned for the future of my girl.

  24. Thank you so much for this amazing article. It’s about time someone said something. I feel like it should be sent to every dance studio. There is no reason why little children (they are not even girls yet) need to dance in their underwear and need to be objectified. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Very well written article. Please get this published more widely or send it in to some tv channels. Your opinion needs to to be shared as it resembles the opinion of a lot of moms.

  25. It too studied dancing for 13 years in my teenage years – Tap, ballet, and Modern Jazz. My daughter was in dancing for a short while when she was 4 and 5, and now my grand-daughter is in dancing. What they are teaching now is not dancing, and looks very similar to what I have seen on t.v. by actors portraying strippers!

    • It has nothing to do with teaching them to be ashamed of their bodies! For the love of Pete! By that logic, we should just let them run around naked! It’s about adults not specializing innocent children. They are tiny! They shouldn’t be twerking, thrusting, strutting, or any other provocative or sexual moves. By the same token, they shouldn’t be wearing outfits that look like they were designed for a stripper! When you dress your child in something modest and appropriate, do you tell them you have to wear this because you should be ashamed of your body? No, you don’t. As a responsible parent, you decide what is age appropriate and socially acceptable for that child to wear. It doesn’t translate into body shaming. It translates into good parenting!

      Like it or not, there are a lot of sick people out there. You never know who they are, or where they will be. Do you really want to put your baby daughter on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers, wearing barely anything, and doing provocative, sexual moves? Talk about bad parenting! If you did that in your home and put it on the internet you would go to jail! Why is it acceptable on a stage, or in a competition? I once attended a dance performance where an 8 year-old girl was dressed scantily, and was dancing to the song “My Sherona.” In case you’re not familiar with that song, it’s about having sex with an under age girl. I. Was. Gobsmacked! Who in their right mind does that! Shame in her parents, and her so-called teacher for allowing that! Good Lord, what is wrong with people?!?!

  26. Thanks for being courageous — and posting what so many mothers are thinking – but didn’t want other moms to jump down their throats about! (I can see you’re getting some throat jumpers) — Way to be brave! (from a mom of two — who did not sigh either up for dance or “athletic cheer groups” because of this exact issue.)

  27. I feel the same way about volleyball uniforms for high school aged girls! Some of which were showing up in grade school teams this past season. When my daughter makes the team I’m afraid this mother will have to put her foot down. I’ll buy her some shorts that are appropriate in the same color and if that’s not good enough, it’ll be a teachable moment for my daughter. It’s just not worth it. She is a modest person and she will gain so much more respect for herself by standing up for this!
    My husband has a hard time watching volleyball games because of this issue. There are some bodies that these uniforms look very, very bad in and are inappropriate to have butt checks spilling out of them!
    No one else seems to be really bothered by this. I don’t get it!

    • My daughter plays club volleyball at the HS level. Both her HS team and her club team have them buy their own black spandex shorts. Many of the roll theirs Ronald them shorter or buy the super short (underwear looking) ones. My daughter chooses the ones that are slightly longer. They look like shorts rather than underwear. No one has given her a hard time so far….and for sure it doesn’t change her play.

  28. I didn’t realize that a prude is one who doesn’t cuss and does not have liberal leanings. So I guess I can say I am proud to be a prude..
    I agree about the costumes that are being put on young people. Too revealing for those young eyes of boys and men.

  29. My 13yr old daughter has been competing at dance competitions in FL for the last 6yrs and she goes as a registered independent performing her own choreography. She trains at different studios along with my son but she never wears anything that exposes her stomach or butt cheeks. The costumes we buy cover the butt and mid section. The song content and choreography all glorifies God. Our son is 9 and his solos are never shirtless or shirt open. When you put kids on stage half naked then you are inviting a potential problem and it sets the tone for how they value their body as teens and adults. Modesty is always the best policy. I want to see technique and dancing not a vegas renue pushing the limits of child abuse laws. No one down in S. FL understands our conservative values but in the end my kids still stand strong in the top ten at awards and they don’t win because of their sex appeal . Our own the choreography, buy the costumes and control the music choices and editing. In the end we have to answer to God for how we raised our kids.

  30. Agree completely. I am equally worried about the provocative body language that these little girls are encouraged to display. I have two granddaughters in dance who refused these provocative movements, and were given alternates.

  31. I don’t think children older than 15 should be limited to what dance/sports clothes they should wear although they should cover all necessary areas appropriately and the clothing should suit the school or studios dress codes. No skimpy tops or see through and no “booty” shorts or shorts that ride up when you move. However, sometimes having tight fitted clothing for sports or dance can be easier to move in and to do certain style of dances. On the other hand, those children under 15 should not be wearing these types of outfits because you never know who’s watching or going to these events. Not only are they wearing them young, but as they grow they will probably think this type of clothing is the norm and thus finding trouble throughout life. But in this article I think we should take a step back and see what is right and what is wrong. I think those of a younger age should wear clothes that are more appropriate, but not restrict there ability to dance or play sports. So quit complaining about how older gals/guys are dressing for dance or sports and support them, eventually they will find out if wearing that type of clothing for dance or sports is a good fit for them, especially if they don’t like the attention they are getting. For the young ones, I agree that they should not be as tight forming, but they also should be appropriate for their age level. If the parents don’t like the clothing, then say something or remove them from dance or the sport, but keep in mind YOUR the one who is ruining the future of your child.

  32. Totally agree with you. I have disregarded dance companies for my daughter based on their costumes. One in particular accentuated the breasts of preteen girls. I would never ever ever allow my daughter to wear such a costume.

  33. Great post. Props to you if you can change that world. I’m a bunhead through and through and so have spent little time in the “competition” world, but have seen plenty of objectionable choreo and costumes. Maybe if you rally enough parents (read: consumers) you can instigate change.~D

  34. Just as dancers need to see their bodies when they are at rehearsal or are training; the judges also must be able to see the alignment of the body to be able to judge on proper technique

  35. I don’t get it. Little children are put on stage in skimpy clothes, doing overtly sexual provocative moves and the concern is that wearing more conservative, functional dancewear will teach teach them to be ashamed of their bodies??? To the contrary. I suspect wearing more appropriate clothing teaches them that their bodies are to be valued & respected.

    Lets face it. Sadly, whether we like it or not, in these outfits and with these steps, these kids can easily be perceived as sexual objects. There is a growing problem with child exploitation, child pornography, and outright child abuse. These disturbed individuals can easily use these images to confirm that there own desires are OK. We are teaching them that prepubertal girls are sexual beings/objects. The images are out there and then we get upset when these individuals act on what they are seeing.

    This is not a new topic. The classic novel “Lolita”, written in 1959, shocked the world because the story’s leading female character (12 years old) was actively seductive to her willing older stepfather. The teenage “Long Island Lolita” shocked us when she made headlines for attempting to murder her married lover’s wife. Other novels, and historical information show us that a young girl virgin would command a premium price in a brothel.

    Please, our world can be difficult and jaded enough. Lets let little girls be little girls and remain innocent children a little longer. They will grow up too soon and too fast. They face the schizophrenic reality and challenges of our overtly sexual society. Give them the strength and ability to feel confident, attractive, and strong without having to pull sex into the equation.

  36. I agree. I like dance and my daughter enjoyed dance at a modest studios but Ive seen young girls grinding the floor like strippers I have seen do it at clubs With barely nothing on I reckon the dance mums live threw there kids.
    Like there is a blur in the line of adult child!

  37. Watched your video link through a slit in my fingers, which were covering my eyes because I was so embarrassed for these little girls.

    Then, because I guess I hadn’t had enough shock value for one day, I watched the next one below it. Dear God, it’s appalling!! Overtly sexual 8-year-olds twerking and grinding, barely covered…it’s every pedophile’s dream! I can’t imagine any sane parent who would think this is OK. Whatever happened to 8-year-olds dancing as daisies??? And for those who think, well, it’s just the culture and this is what we have to do to get ahead…there’s more to life than just being a dance mom. 99% of your little girls will never be in a commercial or on TV. All you’re teaching them is that the ends justify the means, at the cost of their dignity and despite the morality you’re otherwise espousing at home.

    There are ways to be appropriate while still allowing for the lines, the movement, etc. NO girl under 18 needs to be prancing around in a bra and hot pants. We cover not because we want our girls to be ashamed. We cover because they are beautiful and precious.

  38. What’s the difference between any of those costumes and a swimsuit? This is what’s wrong with society. Stop sexualizing girls and women. Our bodies are beautiful things that we should take pride in, not be ashamed of. If you aren’t comfortable putting your child in a specific costume, that’s fine. You have no business interfering with other parents or the teacher’s artistic expression. I’ve been a dancer my whole life and it’s absurd to me that someone can look at a 10 year old and think “No, that outfit is too sexy.” Wear whatever you want. It’s a body not a sexual play thing.

    • So dance is one of those universal ways that people can exhibit the common human themes … until there is some kind of overtly sexual display or obviously lascivious and prurient gyrations, then it’s “artistic expression” that nobody is allowed to criticize?

      Is that really your stupid theory?

  39. At the very least make the costume so that the girls can wear a bra, yes many dancers are flat or small chested – not all. And all that bouncing is not good. My daughter danced Irish step dancing for 15 years and for many years she had to wear a strapless dress – yes we had clear straps on the dress and clear straps or a strapless bra but let’s be honest they do not work as well as a sports bra to support the chest.

  40. I used to coach competitive cheer at the collegiate level and many of my athletes thought me very conservative (actually I lean left politically), but both the uniforms and dance moves I vetoed many thought I was overly conservative. When at one national competition a group of my athletes were with me while we watched a team where the oldest girl was 12. This team was wearing skirts that I call “belts”- they are so short the bloomers are longer, and crop tops that stopped just below the bra line. Then they proceeded to pump, shake, and slap their way through their dance while their parents hollered “get it girls” and “shake it baby”. My comment to my athletes “and their parents are surprised that they turn that vertical dance horizontal before the age of 16?!?” I told my girls our team needed to be role models that these girls look up to you – that we need to show them you can be an amazing athlete and you don’t have to do that. Our kids grow up too fast. It is OK and important that we as parents say “that’s for adults” or “that’s not ok for kids your age”.

  41. I really have no issue if a soloist chooses one of these for their outfit, or if a person wears it to practice. My issue is that I know, as a former dancer, that not all dancers are comfortable in these outfits. In fact, many if not most would prefer much more coverage. It also makes dancers who are overweight more likely to drop out (which, frankly, too many studios encourage). Those kids are the exact kids who NEED enjoyable exercise in their lives!

    This also goes for practice. If you can adequately see the “lines” in a boy wearing a t-shirt and athletic pants, you should be able to see them in a girl. Leotards are great, if the dancer is comfortable. Many are not and would prefer less form fitting outfits.

  42. My 8 year old daughter participated in competition dance for her first time last year. I don’t object to girls wearing two piece costumes as long as the music isn’t edgy. What I really struggled with is why the boys were dancing with their shirts off, and especially to music that clearly has a sexual theme. The routine I complained to the owner about was a cowboy themed dance. The music included parts from Big & Riches “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” This song is specifically about cowboys trying to get girls drunk and sleep with them. I went to the owner about the music and she said that she nor the choreographer had any idea that this song was about sex. She also said that the costume was appropriate for a cowboy themed dance. Shirtless with a small black vest on. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with the costume until she said; “it’s not like they are strippers like in Magic Mike!”. I googled Magic Mike and was sickened by what I found. In that movie the male strippers were wearing an identical costume (at least they started out in an identical costume) as what the teenage boys were wearing in this cowboy routine, and they were stripping to the same song by Big & Rich, “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy”. I knew that I was already uncomfortable watching this routine because of the song, but now that I know that the costume is identical to the Magic Mike movie, I really questioned the message and feeling that the dance teacher was going for. It seems that she wants the dance to feel a bit like a strip tease on the boys part. I kept thinking, “if my daughter was in this routine I would be so embarrassed for my parents to come and watch her.” These are teenagers, children, some as young as 8 years old. Please choose more appropriate costumes and music for them to dance to. They have time for the more sexual stuff when they are adults and are old enough to make those choices for themselves.

    Parents should be speaking up more often. Through this journey I had the opportunity to speak to a few parents that admit that they don’t like the costumes or a lot of the music, but they keep there kids in competition dance because the kids want to stay with their friends. If more parents spoke up for more appropriate music and costumes then the teachers would start to change. It’s only because most of us stay silent that things remain the same, or get worse.

    FYI. The dance studio pulled the cowboy routine from the competition schedule for this year. The owner said that she didn’t want anyone in the audience to feel the same way that I did while watching this dance to that music. I think that is a win for me as a parent that is concerned about my daughters future in this dance company, and for the kids that were in that inappropriate routine.

  43. Of course it’s inappropriate, and across our culture we’re increasingly losing grounds to object to anything because to object isn’t “body positive”. We know the inspiration for these dances and costumes comes from pop music, and pop music and its imagery are specifically designed to titillate. Nobody looks at Beyonce performing and claims that it’s not extremely sexy/sexual, to do so would be an insult to the performer because it would mean she failed in her aims. The thumping beat, the provocative lyrics, the slightly moaned vocals, the clothing and dance moves which intentionally borrow elements from striptease, the oiled up skin, sex bomb hair and makeup… Okay, now adapt this to an eight year old. Suddenly none of it is associated with sex or selling sex, it’s just like kids at the beach? Stop lying.

    Beyonce is very mainstream and certainly not even the raunchiest pop performer out there herself (although she has dialed up the explicitness in her music in the last several years) but just because we’re all acclimated to explicitly sexual music and imagery saturating our everyday life doesn’t mean it isn’t sexual.

    I was an elementary school girl when Britney was big and I remember wanting to be beautiful, charismatic and admired like her (who herself was only a high school girl at the time). I didn’t really fully know what sex even was but I could see the social status and power that came from being pretty, come hither and half naked. That was the aspirational imagery that surrounded me. Kids are very tuned into these things. Look at the facial expressions on some of these young dancers, they have picked up subtleties of seductive body language from watching adult performers. Monkey see monkey do. Are you sure that that’s how you want your daughters to learn how to respect their bodies?

  44. I think this is stupid. I may not be an “expert” like this woman claims to be, but I see nothing wrong with what they’re wearing. Kids of that age are allowed to go swimming, yes? That’s in public for strangers to see. What’s the difference. Kids wear bikinis and skin tight bathing suits. This message is only saying kids need to hide their bodies or be ashamed of them. That who they see in the media is wrong and they shouldn’t do it. It’s just skin. What they are wearing and being completely naked are not even close to being the same. This is just another older generation’s conservative ideals being expressed.

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