Sexualization of Young Girls Through Dance

Upon reading Andrea’s post, “Sexualization of a Young Girl on Facebook and ‘Ratchet Meme'”, I thought of  “Popular Culture and the Eroticization of Little Girls” by Valerie Walkerdine and I also thought of the sexualization of young girls in a setting where it occurs very often but where there is also  very little dialog about it, in the realm of dance. The video I included is a solo dance performance of a ten year old girl. In this video, Kaycee Rice does a lot of mature dance moves where she is shaking her butt for the judges and leading the gaze to the space between her legs. She is also wearing short shorts with a bandeau and a jean vest. From her dance routine, to her outfit, to the makeup on her face, Kaycee Rice is being sexualized. To add to her sexualization, the lyrics of the song in the opening are:

Who’s in charge of the girls?

Who’s in charge of the girls?

Who’s in charge of the girls?

Who’s in charge of the girls?

I’m in charge of the girls.

So, what do the judges think of her sexualization? They love it. Kaycee Rice won first place in this competition. When my friend showed me this video, I told her all of the things I included in this post, but as a dancer herself, her response was that the judges are looking at her skill and ability to perfect the dance moves rather than her sexualization. Once she said that, it gave me a different perspective on this video, Kaycee Rice does exhibit exceptional dancing skill. I began to think, did I label Kaycee as a sexualized young girl because I can’t help but to associate the female body with sexual images?  I don’t think so. I think the choreography and the outfit are very mature for a ten year old but I do think that because the emphasis is on skill rather than sexual images it provides a space where young girls can be seen as skilled performers. Even though this fosters a creative space for young girls, I think that more care should be taken in the choices of attire and their overall sexualization on stage, whether intentional or not.

4 thoughts on “Sexualization of Young Girls Through Dance

  1. As a dancer myself I am often torn about drawing the line between it just saying this is just how the dance world works and acknowledging the sexualization of young girls in the business. First off dance clothing in general is often very exposing by normal standards. Students in dance classes often wear tiny shorts and belly tops. Costumes are also very minimal. Dancers are also expected to achieve a rather high maturity at a very young age. These norms of dance are often viewed as the sexualization of young girls but I would argue that there is no intention to make these little girls the object of the male gaze. Competition dancing and other related performances are isolated events, where more attention is paid to technique and emotional conviction rather than the skimpy outfits or mature movements. I think it is also necessary to acknowledge the fact that a career as a dancer starts much earlier than other careers. At age 15-16 your professional dance career begins and for those who are lucky have until about age 30 to succeed in their careers. So young girls have to be prepared to dance like a 30 year old at age 15 because at the end of the day everyone is going for the same part.

    This brings to my Tuesday ritual. Every Tuesday I watch Dance Moms and Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition with a group of friends. I am absolutely obsessed with the shows. When I first introduced my friends to the shows they were a bit surprised and concerned about the ages of the girls, the costumes and some of the mature content of their dances. I on other hand completely accepted what was going on as entirely normal. A friend of mine said, “I feel like a perv watching this show!” He said that he consciously had to avoid looking at the young girls sexually. One of the girls was doing a routine on a bull with a lasso and did a leg extension. He did not think it was an appropriate move and had to keep reminding himself of her age (12) because of her constant sexually suggestive movements. He clearly knew the age of the girl and knew that he shouldn’t look at her in a sexual way. But for him it was kind of impossible as she strutted around in a belly top, jean shorts and cowboy boots while doing high kicks. I have come to realize that a lot of what I take for granted as just being stuff that comes along with dance, others rightfully see as sexualization.

  2. Pingback: Sexualization of Young Dancers, continued | Girlpower

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