We are continuing to film our new resource. In June we interviewed many national experts about hypersexualization in children’s dance. Let me name just a few: Dr. John Foubert, Dr. Donna Hughes, Dr. Walter DeKeseredy, Dr. Sandra Morgan, Dr. Celina Pina Shemo, Dr. Laura Clark, Dr. Don Hilton, Dr. Brook Parker-Bello, and many more. Now we plan to include the most important person in our new DA:NCE resource: the child who deserves our support, our love and our protection. In the film we are producing, one child will serve as the symbol for innocence: a child who needs to be protected from adult costumes, choreography and music. She is a little girl who loves to dance. She’s real. What a joy to connect and spend time together creating age- appropriate movement. The camera rolled on Wednesday September 25, 2019 and she captured our hearts. Thanks to her parents who shared her for this new resource!

Why do we include her? Dance can be a wonderful thing when it is age appropriate and develops a child in mind, body and spirit. Healthy dance insures research based positive outcomes in brain and psychological development. But, like most things, it can be a terrible thing in the wrong context. Harmful, age-inappropriate dance normalizes hypersexualization in adult costumes, choreography and music with results that show up all through life(APA):

•       Co-dependence

•       Eating disorders

•       Higher risk of porn use

•       Poor academics

•       Promiscuity

•       Promotes objectification

•       Promotes rape culture

•       Teen pregnancy

•       Inability to identify sexual abuse

•       Cognitive development

Life is full of choices; this little girl represents healthy dance awareness that allows children to retain their innocence.

Let me share a portion of one filmed interview from Dr. Laura Clark on the hypersexualization of children in dance: “It has become the norm. Parents are signing their children up for dance or competition cheer-leading and these kids are at a very young age, and these kids really don’t have a voice, and they are expected to follow instructions, follow the movement, and they are being groomed at a very young age to be hypersexualized. I grew up as a gymnast and after that, I was a competition cheer-leader and, based on the choreography, we were instructed to perform and move in a certain way, and it became the norm. And I was very unaware of the way we moved, that it was sending a message to the audience, and it was really a grooming process, and, set me up as an adult, to the way I danced, which was very sexually inappropriate, and it became normal. We need to lean on the adults and the parents and the instructors and to have a standard and I don’t feel that we have that; we’re not doing a very good job. We’re failing our children; they’re looking to us as leaders and models to dress appropriately, to move appropriately, and I believe that’s the  solution.”

Now let’s hear from part of the interview with Dr. Brook Parker-Bello:  “Do we understand the United States is the world’s largest producer of child pornography and it always starts subtle and so when you see youth, barely dressed, 7,8,9 years old, dancing in a way that is erotic, and something that an adult would do, it’s not only harmful to them but it’s harmful to the kids that view them because it absolutely is a hypersexualization of our culture which kind of, is changing the trajectory of how we view innocence in America. The iterations of technology are powerful and wonderful and I love technology. But because I work with More to life, we work with child victims, starting from the age of 7 on up, I think that when they’re watching certain music videos and certain imagery, they’re actually are getting some of their identity and their disposition from harmful imagery…..……..I think that the solution to hypersexualized, derogatory dancing within our culture is vast and broad but I think it starts with the prevention in homes and schools about what innocence actually looks like, what innocence should look like; we have to allow children to be children.”

Deep thoughts to ponder. To further your reflection, here’s an article I’d like to share from a caring adult: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/developing-age-appropriate-content/article29121057.ece

My friends, think about this quote: “If we should ever become brave, what on earth would happen to us?” Joy Lewis

Let’s be brave.