I like to think of myself as traditional, but in a balanced, fairly open-minded kind of way. But when I received a text from a friend recently with photos, I found myself more than a little shocked.
Perhaps it’s living in Paris for the past two years and seeing children actually being children–without makeup, without the pressures of being adults before their time, and, perhaps most importantly, without their smart phones in school–that I’ve become so sensitive to the way some Americans raise their children.
Here are the photos:
What troubles me with these two images is the adult nature of the dancing and costumes, which resemble moves and garments more appropriate for NBA or NFL cheerleaders, not 12 year old children. And second, I question the safety of sending that same 12 year old several feet into the air and trusting other 12 year olds to catch her safely.
There are certainly arguments to be made about the benefits of the performing arts for young minds and bodies. The same can be said for athletics, which I participated in throughout my childhood and adolescence.
Likewise, I’ll make an argument that butt-hugging hot pants, provocative dance moves, and flying five or six feet in the air are wardrobes and activities that are more appropriate later in life, if at all.
Call me old-fashioned (again) but I think parents, teachers, and school personnel need to dial it back a little, put a wall up between pop culture and school activities, and insist that children be children while they’re students.
48 thoughts on “Is This Inappropriate To Anyone Besides Me?”
Thanks, Ms. Tully. Lots of comments on this post. – BGT
The socially taboo has become acceptable. All for more views and clicks on social media. Modesty is a rare commodity anymore.
Thank you for posting this Byron. It’s nice to find a forum like this site that makes clear this should not be something to aspire to.
Thanks, Tascha. – BGT
Forgot to mention that I just ordered a hard copy of your new book. Very excited to read it. Congratulations!
Thanks for bringing this up. Getting my copy also!! So excited to read.
Thank you, Melissa! – BGT
Agreed. I took my family to a basketball game just last weekend, the halftime show included a similar display, with even younger girls performing. I felt uncomfortable, all the while wondering how my two teenage sons perceived it, and my 9 year daughter. While it may seem harmless, I think there’re some long term effects to consider when “adult concepts” are imposed on immature minds.
Good point, ACrawl. Being a parent makes seems to make you aware of so many things. Thank you. – BGT
Thank you, Byron for daring to appear an old fogey when it comes to this subject. If you are one, then so am I. I completely agree with your viewpoint. Distant family members of mine have a young daughter (10) who has partipated in dancing while under dressed and over painted since she was six years of age. She practices many hours a week and regularly joins competitions with her team. The dance moves are often suggestive. The heavy make-up and sprayed hair are shocking to me. False eyelashes on a nine year old? Little bare tummies and gyrating baby hips?Do the adults really not notice the sexual nature of these things? Or is it acceptable to them? This little niece of mine is quite sweet, through and through, and her parents are as proud as they can be. I simply cringe. I do worry what the result will be as she matures. More cringing. Again, thank you for your common sense. Breath of fresh air! If I am an old fogey, at least I’m in good company.
Thanks for sharing, Cherie. Psychologists have called it ‘age compression’, referring to the marketing of products and behaviors to younger children. It’s simply about money: how soon can you get a young girl to think that she ‘needs’ makeup and designer clothes? The sooner advertisers can, the sooner they have a customer. The profit motive seems to trump ethics. I realize this only addresses the hair/makeup aspect of this conversation, but it’s still an important point. – BGT
It’s not you. I absolutely agree with you. Unfortunately the opinion we share is not popular here. Good taste is on life support…
Thanks, Heidi. Let’s sit with the patient a little longer, try some antibiotics… – BGT
Agreed quite inappropriate yet assimilation runs ramped in society always has always will.
This forum, which quite delightful, is a rare commodity which is a welcomed sounding board for a time gone by that was then yet is now still a form of past assimilation.
Thanks, K. Lee. Hope you’re well. – BGT
You are not alone. I just quit my gym over issues with an inappropriately dressed young woman (being ogled by a man old enough to be her grandfather) and the young staff at the front desk not caring. This woman was doing (deliberately) yoga poses with her backside in the air. Her pants were gauzy thin. many people (especially younger generations) have been fed a lie that clothes do not matter. The message must be repeated louder, and more frequent, until it sinks in.
Thanks, Melissa. Yes, there are standards, and a time and place for (most) everything. – BGT
I would say appalling, not merely inappropriate. What kind of parents would tolerate, much less encourage, this kind of thing for their children? And what school would want this image to represent their institution?
Thanks for the comment, RMF. We’re getting a lot of opinions on this. It may be time for parents and schools to revisit dress codes and makeup. – BGT
Your not being an old fogey it’s a perfect example of how Grandmothers and mothers are domineering the raising of children and the male Father taking a passive role if any at all. Grandmothers are raising children while the mother works. I see the scenario now. “Wouldn’t Susie look cute in this bikini top dress in her dance show” then the Grandmother will say “I have a friend that will do the make-up”. Where is Dad- Playing with his toys. (Golf, Boat – with Beer playing a roll). In the private school I had my child in Grandparents paid the tuition, Grandparents Paid the Mortgage, and Grandparents held the birthday parties at the local country club. The Dad’s were just passive in the background letting things happen.
Four words spoken by a male Father would stop the nonsense your photo illustrates. “Over my dead body”. Instead everything is “cute”.
Thank you, Bob. I think Dad’s could step up on this and delay the make-up and hair business until daughters turn 16 or 18. So many young ladies here in Paris go without makeup in their teens. It’s a fresh, clean look. – BGT
I think there are two perspectives at play here. The first is utter outrage with 12 year old girls being dressed up in skimpy outfits, with make-up and hair done, gyrating and doing moves that people might think are completely unacceptable given their ages. And as a parent I can understand and even agree with that thinking to a point.
There is another perspective. That of an athlete. When I first looked at that photo, I saw a competitive cheerleader. Not a cheerleader that cheers for their team on the sidelines. Competitive cheerleading combines gymnastics, dance and cheer into one highly regulated sport. This sport has some of the most stringent safety requirements around. What you are seeing in that picture is the result of hundreds of hours in the gym learning moves on very thick practice mats. They practice several hours a day together learning the proper way to hold and catch a flier (that’s the girls in the air), to build pyramids that are safe, to learn how to tumble and dance in sync with each other and to music, and to properly project their voices. In a nutshell, they are highly trained athletes.
As far as their uniforms go, what they are wearing is actually standard for their sport. If you watched a 12 year old gymnast competing at the Junior National Level (15 years and under) dressed in a forming fitting leotard with make-up on doing her floor routine with the same dance moves or doing her uneven bars routine there would be no outrage because what she is wearing is acceptable for the sport. In fact, most people would be amazed that she was so skilled and not even notice her outfit or her make-up and hair. A cheerleader uniform is the same premise. It might look skimpy, but it is designed for their sport just as a leotard is designed for a gymnast.
I know there maybe many that disagree and I completely understand that. I’m just giving my perspective. And thank you, Byron, as always for a very thought provoking question.
Thanks Kellie for taking the time to explain both perspectives. Parents need to know this is standard for this particular sport. This will help them make the personal decision: Is this sport appropriate for my child?
Have a great week ahead everyone!
Thank you, Kellie, for the nuanced and articulate perspective. I don’t understand 12 year olds in makeup, especially for sports, and the health risks are documented in a chapter section in ‘Old Money, New Woman.” I do see your point on the uniforms. I’m sure I’d prefer to see gymnasts and cheerleaders sans cosmetics, and in uniforms that cover them from shoulders to hips. Again, the second opinion is much appreciated. – BGT
It is only ‘standard’ because parents have allowed it. Instead of standing up and taking a stand (if they even wanted to or see the need to) many would rather knuckle under and go along with the crowd. Usually, the one or two parents (I hope more) who do speak out are treated like the oddballs. We do not live in a utopian society. Kids to not always know the impact of their words, actions and attire (thank goodness) which is why parents must step up and speak out. Kids do not know they need to be protected. It is up to parents to make sure their children stay children for as long as possible. There are many dance/cheer leading costumes that are not revealing. The sexualization of young girls in our society must stop. The only people who can do that are the parents and judges at these events. ‘Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.’ G.K. Chesterton
I like that quote, Melissa! And I agree 100% with your thoughts on this. (In the olden days of the nineties), my original show choir uniform was just a fitted dress, and it was far more comfortable for a growing, self-conscious girl. I became so obsessed and anxious about my body when we got new, very skimpy ones that I couldn’t concentrate on my singing and dancing at all, and I quit. That had been the one thing I loved about school, and suddenly it was no fun anymore. Our cheerleaders’ tops also covered their midsections, and their skirts covered their backsides. This changed as well during my time in school.
… Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, et al. had become popular at that very same time, now that I think about it. Coincidence? 🙂
Great thoughts and a great quote, Melissa. thank you. – BGT
Cheerleading fits neatly into the kind of culture — fast food, popular music, reality TV, social media — that America has brought the world. Gymnastics, on the other hand, which strives for perfect form and elegant execution, and requires no fanfare, deserves a place in any grammar or high school curriculum.
Good call, JL. Thank you, sir. – BGT
The most widely celebrated individuals within our society are largely not those making a positive difference in the world – and if they are, it’s not what they’re being congratulated on because there’s nothing glamorous about hard work or sacrifice. Of course children are going to get the impression that success is measured by Views and Likes and not by lasting accomplishment. It’s easier now to claim 5 minutes of fame than to build something worthwhile – whether that be personal character or a legacy. It’s easier, I’m afraid, for parents to say yes than to say no; yes means no arguments, no accusations of ‘But you do it’, no proclamation of ‘This is so unfair’. Arguemevts which, in my opinion, are worth having if it means the future happiness and success of the child.
It begs the question, why isn’t our society as a whole giving future generations more to aspire to than the abilities to wear a crop top and use a video game controller?
Well said, LPW. Hopefully, some parents will be holding the line. Thank you. – BGT
I thought you meant is a red and white striped shirt with white pants and a black belt inappropriate.
Ha! Thanks, Amy. – BGT
I’ve followed this blog for a number of years and always felt that many here are of the more liberal mindset. With that said, the overall theme here is…not exactly progressive.
I’ve wondered when something like this post would finally hit our gracious host. I think, generally, everyone here is about civility first, basic decency regardless of political persuasions. We should all think about this and try to unite around it. We should try to figure out where our views actually fit in all of this. Unfortunately, we are greatly outnumbered in current society.
Byron, I completely agree with your thoughts on this post. I’ve been saying it for years too…
This issue is not ‘progressive’ vs. ‘conservative.’ Very few things in this world are actually dichotomous. Most people are not extremists, regardless of what the Internet would have us believe (for likes, clicks, shares, and revenue). I’m from Mississippi. I’m a Democrat, and not the old kind. I am aghast and upset to see young girls dressed like swimsuit models and paraded for their looks. I don’t come from a wealthy family — yet I went to a private high school that ‘used to be,’ as I learned very late in my education, a segregation academy. I dropped out halfway through my senior year and moved away rather than have a diploma from there — and I’m VERY proud of my GED and intermittent, protracted college education. I could never have been proud of the alternative. I would never have gotten anywhere in life or gained true, deep compassion for others without the hard work that it took, and that I was happy to do, to succeed.
I had also left show choir, which was the only thing I liked about going to school, in middle school because we got new uniforms that looked much like the picture above. At that time, I was ashamed and blamed myself because the real reason for my balking at the uniforms was poor body image. I was skinny and wouldn’t have looked like a Victoria’s Secret model, so I was ashamed. I didn’t know any better, and I thought what was expected of me by my elders was what was right. In retrospect, I hope my exit from that could be seen as self-respect as well, even though that part of me was not developed or even really extant yet at such a young age. Now I’m just glad there are no photos like this of me floating around. I respect their athleticism and was an athlete, too — I know how much dedication it takes! But I feel sorry for these girls. It’s not their fault. Much worse are the pageants, into which parents start entering their kids (with a full face of makeup) when they’re out of diapers and old enough to walk. That should not even be allowed. They learn that their value lies in their appearance, and depression and anxiety and sadness follow as there’s always more to do to be perfect. It’s never enough. Gratuitous sexualization of children — or anyone, for that matter — is not a feminist cause.
Well said, Jess. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this. It’s obvious you’ve been thinking for yourself for quite awhile. Good for you. Keep it up. And thanks for pointing out that this isn’t a political issue. Children’s well-being should cross party lines. – BGT
Thank you, MGL. I think we run the full spectrum politically here, but we unite around Old Money Core Values. And I’m grateful that you pointed out the civility of 99.9% of the comments here. That’s a compliment to everyone who comments here, you included. Thanks again. – BGT
It would be nice to say I was not one of those girls when I was young, but I was. My mom had me in competitive dance when I was 3, the costumes and dance moves didn’t make me think twice until I was a mom myself. Now 31, and I would consider myself a young mom still, not an older “unaware” parent, yet I will not be putting my daughter in any type of recreational team like this. I truly agree with your comments and wish that more parents would think about the benefits of modesty and childhood.
Thank you, Stacy. It’s great to hear about your experience, and your choices as a mother now. – BGT
I fully agree on the dance and the clothing being inappropriate. My jury is out on the ‘catching’ part as their are some very young, yet high-level gymnasts out there. My money is on a bet that their parents are in the audience thereby having enabled what you see.
Just this past Saturday in the immigration queue in the US there was a family ahead of me. They had a daughter of about thirteen or fourteen. She was dressed in an off-the-shoulder sweater with underwear visible for all to see. And she was making the most of it. Again, the parents enabled it. It reminds me of the workplace. If you want to know why the employees behave a certain way, look at the management. You will soon find out.
I forget if I have mentioned to you that a group of young people that have always impressed me in Paris are the Scouts. ‘Les Scouts’. A different gene-pool ! Support them by buying one of their calendars or other projects next time they are selling.
Thank you, David. I’ll check out Les Scouts. A bientot…- BGT
Welcome to the 21st century, the age of extreme narcissism and showing off. And if you can cash in on it along the way, it’s an added bonus.
Sad but often true. We’ll turn the tide…with a lot of effort and a little patience. Thanks, Rob. – BGT
So I noticed.
David, let’s have a coffee in the next week or two. I’ll send an email. Hope you’re well. – BGT
pluralism in a democratic society
listen carefully to this meditation and enjoy
Thank you, sir. Much appreciated. – BGT