Early Sexualization of Girls

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK

A line drawn in crayon is, nevertheless, a line. And that line was crossed this week on the popular reality TV show Dance Moms when dance teacher Abby Lee Miller put her troupe of 8 to 12 year old girls in nude bras and pink fans for an "innocent burlesque routine."

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The level of sensationalism has gone up over the past few years but nowhere is this more apparent than how kids are portrayed on "reality" TV shows. Last season it was considered so shocking when Miller tarted her girls up in hooker costumes with thigh-high fishnets that they made it on the Today show. (Pretty severe punishment, eh?) Apparently public excoriation is just a few dollar signs away from public adulation and so Miller upped the ante.

In case anyone is wondering if the girls understood the meaning of burlesque, Abby makes sure to teach them telling them it's "all about crotch and boobs" and telling the girls to say "I'm hot! I'm mean! You can't have me! You can't afford me!" as they shake their giant fans. You can't afford me? I don't want to get overly dramatic here but in a day where the sex-trafficking of children numbers in the hundreds of thousands this seems like a really bad idea.

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The children do have mothers present. In fact, one even exclaims, "'Nude' is not a word you want associated with your 10-year-old!" And yet they all let the routine continue and even praise Abby's choreography, something which she describes as a "famous classic routine" which if you consider prostitution the world's oldest profession, then I suppose it is. There are some that will say that if someone looks at a child sexually then the problem is on them but I think that argument loses a lot of credence when you actually dress the children up like strippers and teach them to play feathered-fan peekaboo.

When one of the girls protests, "But I'm only 9!" Miller responds, "And that's exactly why you can get away with this." Yikes.

Is this one more example of our anything-for-attention culture or do you think the routine was all in good fun?

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