At times like this I want to hit my imaginary “overwhelm” button that I have hidden here on my desk, somewhere under all these papers and books.
Mothers, Dads, Youth Pastors, Pastors – are you watching this? I don’t even want to post the video because I think the photo is revealing enough and suggestive enough for you to get the full intention of this post. Our culture is leading our young girls, even as young as pre-school, riding on a “long black train” that leads them to the middle of nowhere.
When I walk through the aisles of Target and Walmart or see any of the store fronts in malls across America, one thing is clear: designers of children’s clothing want to make them look like little adults. That’s fine and dandy if you want to put your little dude in a suit for Easter, or a dress for Mother’s Day (I see many cute ones at the children’s ministry door at church); but it is not ok if you want to dress your daughter in halter tops and string bikinis and high heels. Since when did that become norm?
Vicki Courtney, a woman with an extensive ministry to moms and daughters, said this about the above picture (you can read the rest of it here on her blog):
Sad as it is that these girls have unwillingly been placed on a fast-track by their parents, we can all learn a few sobering lessons from this travesty. When you read the comments pouring in at Popeater.com, the overwhelming consensus is that the parents are to blame. I completely concur. Yes, the media’s ongoing sexualization of our girls is a huge contributing factor, but the buck ultimately stops with Mom and Dad. They could have easily found more wholesome outlets to cultivate their daughters’ love of dance. They could have said “no” when they took their daughters to the uniform fitting and caught wind of the costumes. They could have stepped up during the dance practices and rehearsals and insisted some of the provocative moves be replaced with more age-appropriate choreography. But for whatever reasons, they chose not to. And their failure to do so is what intrigues those of us in the general public who are left scratching our collective heads at their turn-a-blind-eye parenting philosophy.
I was appalled at the defense statements made by a couple of the parents of the girls in the video in follow-up news interviews. A mother of one of the pint-sized dancers defended the costumes, saying “that judges need to be able to see the girl’s movement and technical skills.” She went on to say, “The costumes are designed for movement, unrestricted movement and to show body lines.” Excuse me? Do you mean the “body lines” of your own 8 year-old daughter? What planet is this mother living on? My daughter was in competitive cheer for over three years and I witnessed my fair share of borderline inappropriate costumes at some of the competitions, but never once did I see anything this provocative on the little girls who performed.
A father of one of the girls offered further insight into the parents’ warped group-think mentality: “On behalf of the parents, our best interest is for the kids.” He continued, “Just know that the kids are doing something that they completely love to do. They compete in dance competitions … in front of family and friends.” Well now, Pops, they have increased their audience beyond “family and friends” to include the World Wide Web. How can a dad can sit back and watch his little girl perform such suggestive dance moves in hot pants, a sequined sports bra and mock garter socks and not experience a God-given urge to go taekwondo on the dance coach? Or at the very least, rush the stage and cover his baby girl up with a jacket and usher her out of the strip club dance competition? I’m not a dad, but can someone please answer me that question? This dad not only enjoys watching his daughter perform, he even justifies and defends the costumes and dance moves! Someone please get these parents the help they need. In an effort to boost their own fledgling self-esteem they have completely lost touch with reality. Like many parents, they have become desensitized to what is truly in the “best interest for the kids.”
Sir, what is in the “best interest of the kids” is to allow these little girls to be little girls. They will not get a redo on their fleeting season of girlhood. It is your job as a parent to protect their innocence at all costs. Parents make mistakes and I’ve made plenty of my own when it comes to raising my kids. In my book, Your Girl, I shared a personal account of my daughter’s early days in gymnastics and a season where I attempted to live through my child in an effort to boost my own self esteem. At the young age of seven, my daughter was a talented little gymnast, spending three days a week in a gym for a total of seven hours a week. And yes, gymnastics was her passion just as the father above claimed dance is his daughter’s passion. However, as the hours of practice increased, it became less of her passion and more of mine.
Parents, you most likely pay for your daughter’s clothes…what are you paying for? Moms – your daughter are watching you to see how they should dress – what are you modeling for them? Dads – are you teaching your daughters that what they where does matter to guys?
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.