Recently, reality television has evolved to include children as entertainment to American viewers. Popular shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and “Dance Moms” have received much criticism for the way children, mostly young girls, are being exploited. As Sarah Porter mentions in her blog about “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the amount of preparation for pageants is a lot of work and pressure for young girls. This is also seen in “Dance Moms,” which follows a group of girls ages 6-13 in the Abbey Lee Dance Company. The show highlights all of the hard work and pressures that it takes to be a successful dancer. The young girls in the show spend hours everyday at the dance studio practicing, and on the weekends compete in dance competitions all over the country. In recent controversy, actress Katherine Heigl, slammed the show “Dance Moms” for how it exploits young girls. Heigl mentions in her blog, “girls as young as seven were encouraged to dress provocatively and shimmy around stage doing a dance performance that could just as easily been a burlesque routine. I kept thinking all these girls were missing is a pole!” Heigl goes on to rant more about how Abbey Lee, the dance instructor for the young girls is too harsh with them and yells at them instead of encouraging them. Heigl insists that shows like “Dance Moms” encourage children to think that acting sexy is the best way to succeed, when instead children could be performing with age appropriate routines.
When reading Kasson’s article, “Behind Shirley Temple’s Smile,” I immediately thought of the girls on “Dance Moms.” Like Shirley Temple, the girls on “Dance Moms” are expected to always be at their best in performances and put in many hours to succeed. Also, they have in common the aspect of flirtatiousness in their performances. While people loved Shirley Temple long ago, it seems we are still entertained by the same themes today.
Below is a video of the Abbey Lee Dance Company performance, ‘Electricity’