Dance costumes. Everyone has an opinion. Especially this gal.
Disclaimer: I hate to give this blog an ounce of traffic but I have no choice. I read it. Was pissed off. Started to write a response and then it got long. That's when it became a blog about dance costumes. Or is it?
Debra Jenkins is a self-proclaimed Dance Mom who wrote a blog called “Dance Teachers: Put Some Clothes on Your Dancers” earlier this week. It seems that she feels that “it's inappropriate to send kids to stage to dance in their knickers.” She has some pretty strong opinions about costuming and apparently thinks that the dance costumes she sees on stage lately are much less modest than past years. She's wrong. Dancers have been shaking their booties on stage in bare-midriff costumes ever since we entered the dance world twelve years ago.
We've been on both sides of the dancing world. We started at a competitive studio. Moved towards a pre-professional ballet program and then when my daughter was a teenager, returned to the competitive arena. Dress in both studios is dramatically different. At the ballet studio, it was tights and leotards. Our competitive studio, is bra tops and booty shorts. I have no problem with either dress code because as a parent I can choose the type of studio that my child attends if modest dress is a consideration. For me, a solid dance education and my child's happiness were more important. Especially since I pay thousands of dollars a year. I'm not going to get caught up on my kid's tummy showing.
Debra has an issue with what seems to be costumes made from Victoria's Secret bras. Guess what? They really are bras, but they're from Target because we're cheap and would rather put the money into rhinestones. And, because our dance teachers are not wanting our kids to be provocative, they're usually purchased much larger than the child's bra size to make sure there's enough coverage. They're also glued or taped to our kids bodies so there's nothing left to chance. Know what else? We sometimes use lingerie for costumes too. See the gorgeous number below.
It's the same thing if our dancers are wearing briefs (I think this is what she's calling bloomers). Those babies are sized to completely cover a bum and they're also glued on. Just like with a gymnast (she's okay with leotards), briefs allow a dancer to move freely and they're aerodynamic (which she supports) because dancers do jump, leap and turn. We don't wear tights (which she likes) because they suck. They look awful on stage because no one's legs are ever that color. Period.
Are the costumes modest? Nope and that's the standard in the competitive arena. It's not the exception, it's the rule. Custom-made costumes lend a lot to the dance (even though she'll disagree) and they win awards. Studios are known for gorgeous costumes and so are costume designers. That's a fact (and for the record, my kid is a teenager and she's not wearing a thong and pasties).
Before I go any further, I'm going to say this. If you as a parent, don't want your child to dance with a bare midriff, you have a choice. Choose a studio with more modest dance costumes. It's personal preference. The end.
My real problem with this gal's post? It's hypocritical. To illustrate her point about inappropriate dress, she shows Misty Copeland in the Under Armour campaign and Beyonce on stage (interesting enough it's okay that Beyonce is dressed like that because she's Beyonce and it's okay that Misty is in what she calls “underwear” because she's not on stage). So, let me get this straight. You can wear booty shorts and a top if you're an adult and you're not in public? That doesn't exactly send the right message.
If we tell our kids that they have to cover their bodies, we are telling them that there's something wrong or shameful about showing their belly button. We're suggesting that it's sexual even though it's not. We're teaching our kids that it's okay for adults to be comfortable in their skin, but they can't be. We're telling them that they have to cover up because God forbid someone might look at them inappropriately even though they're not trying to attract that kind of attention.
As parents, we need to teach our kids that body shaming is wrong. And, when appropriate, we need to discuss with them the issues surrounding objectifying women because that's wrong as well. It's not a problem with dance costumes. It's a problem with society and it needs to stop.
Debra thinks “our kids deserve better” and she's right. Our kids deserve to be able to have their moment on stage, free from judgment. They work hard at their sport, practice long hours and quite honestly work their butts off. They deserve to feel like a million bucks in their costumes and if you don't like the way they look, don't come to a dance competition. Simple as that.