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Katherine Heigl Outraged by Treatment of Children on “Dance Moms”

In a CelebVillage blog series on iVillage, actress Katherine Heigl offers passionate posts on her personal experience as a mother. Her desire for her daughter Naleigh, she reveals, is to help her “live up to her potential in life.”

In her final post, “My Struggle to Make Sure My Daughter Knows Her Worth,” Heigl writes extensively about the reality show “Dance Moms.” In her opinion, it represents a warped idea of how to teach and motivate a young child to dance. And I completely agree.

I have not seen a whole episode of “Dance Moms” because I find it very disturbing. However, I’ve seen clips and can’t understand how this show is even allowed on the air. I feel that the teacher is emotionally abusive to the young girls. Heigl says it best in her blog; following are some of the excerpts:

[I] watched with open-mouthed amazement as girls as young as seven were encouraged to dress provocatively and shimmy around a 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! I was also horrified by the way their instructor spoke to them when she felt they weren’t up to snuff. It was demeaning, belittling, and downright unkind.

It terrifies me, the amount of value we place on a woman’s looks, body, and ability to drop it like it’s hot on the dancefloor. It’s one thing to walk into a club and see twentysomethings embracing their sexuality and having some fun, but it’s another thing altogether watching seven-year-olds shake their booties, bellies, and nonexistent boobies on a stage in a room full of adults and be handed a trophy for it. What in the world are we telling them? That sexy is the prize and is the talent they have?

We will have to find a way to convince our children that what they see in the world around them is not always right and true even when it’s far more prevalent than what we tell them is right and true.

Heigl’s absolutely correct. Society and the media have established their own sense of what’s normal behavior through reality shows, and young girls are picking up on it. We’ve discussed the sexualization of young girls in our post Too Young, Too Sexy, Too Fast and how it destroys a child’s innocent years. It also negatively affects a young girl’s self-worth in the long run.

It’s crazy that so many adults are willing to accept little girls becoming sexualized for the sake of fame and money. The moms in these shows are the primary caregivers of these children and yet they allow this to happen. Some do question the dance teacher’s methods, but then allow her to abuse them and their children anyway. I wish these “dance moms” had the same attitude as Heigl.

The good news is that Heigl is publicizing her concerns. Her suggestion that families instill their own good values to combat media pressure is praiseworthy. “We will have to perpetually battle and kick against the values mass media prioritize” she writes, “and emphasize those that truly matter.” It’s nice to know that even in Hollywood there are celebrities determined to raise their children as children.

I applaud Heigl for being so outspoken about the sexualization of young children in show business. I wish more Hollywood celebrities would not only reject shows like “Dance Moms,” but insist on instilling positive values in their own children’s lives, just as Heigl is trying to do. This would make a refreshing change in an industry that’s lost sight of wholesome family values.

Do you watch “Dance Moms”? What do you think about Heigl’s feelings about the show?

Image: Getty Images

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15 Comments

  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by georgia13 on March 27, 2012 at 16:57

    Is it a sin to watch this show? I’ve been struggling with this for awhile.. Please help ):

  2. pinkpenguin318

    Posted by pinkpenguin318 on February 12, 2012 at 14:27

    There’s a show that’s WORSE than TODDLERS IN TIARAS?? That’s sooo.. sad! It kills me that young girls who haven’t even hit puberty are being rewarded for dancing sexy. I can totally understand why my parent’s don’t buy cable for our TV’s. There’s a whole lot of garbage on TV and it’s very upsetting! 🙁

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by Mary K8 on February 12, 2012 at 11:24

    I had never heard of this show, so i watched a few clips on their website, and it is ridiculous! The moms act like they are in middle school! I feel so awful for the girls- that’s the only example of grown women they ever see 😛

  4. Project Inspired

    Posted by calieiscalie on February 9, 2012 at 13:20

    I love the show dance moms. To be honest i highly doubt she treats those kids like that on a regular basis. Just for the show and they know it. Also she must have seen the episode where she made those kids dance risque (its wrong) but she definatly learned her leson after she got chewed out by the moms as WELL as the terrible score she got. Its a good show and Abbey Lee has gotten nicer to the kids. And i love the new girl Kendle

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by Kate on February 9, 2012 at 07:19

    I like Katherine Heigl. While I don’t always agree with what she says in interviews and the kind of movies she makes, she’s a strong woman who dosn’t always need to be ‘popular.’ I love the fact that she adopted a special needs baby 🙂

  6. dancing4Jesus

    Posted by dancing4Jesus on February 8, 2012 at 08:38

    i watch every single episode of dance mom and i absptely love the show! i totally agree the way the teacher acts it terrible and i also disagree with the costumes they have to wear but i mostly watch it cause i love watching the dances

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by Kida on February 8, 2012 at 05:24

    I love how you don’t play favorites with the celebrities, but take each action and look at it for what it is. That never happens in my house. Either they’re hated and are capable of “I guess it’s a good thing but they probably aren’t doing it for the right reasons” or they’re adored and it’s “Well, that was bad but they’re only human, so who cares?” I admit I’ve been part of it but it makes me sick to hear my parents cutting down people they’ve never even met.

    • tmgaouette

      Posted by tmgaouette on February 8, 2012 at 20:21

      Thank you, Kida. We are supposed to judge based on a person’s actions in order to know how we should act. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” -Matthew 7:16

  8. Paris

    Posted by Paris on February 7, 2012 at 21:04

    I like “Dance Moms” because I am a dancer myself,but I don’t like how they are treated sometimes. I also don’t think that there is anything wrong with the outfits because dance outfits are meant to be fitting,comfortable and easy to move in. I also think there is nothing wrong with the dancing because there are certian types and that’s why they have to do certian types of moves that involve moving in a sensual manner.

  9. Jenna-worthit13

    Posted by Jenna-worthit13 on February 7, 2012 at 19:46

    I totally agree with Katherine. I cannot STAND that show! Every single time I see that woman, I just want to tie her to a chair, tape her mouth shut and yell some sense into her. I greatly dislike her (I’m putting it nicely).

  10. kara719

    Posted by kara719 on February 7, 2012 at 19:28

    I saw Dance Moms once and hated it!! The teacher does emtionally abuse them. One of the girls started crying and the teacher got really mad! that little girl isn’t confident enough. she performed and all the teacher saw was flaws. That show needs to be cancled. I agree with Heigl! I loved her husbands song Naleigh Moon btw :)especially the video. my sister was adopted from China so the video is kind of special to me.

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by Ann Marie on February 7, 2012 at 17:05

    I do not watch “Dance Moms” I watched one episode tonight because my friend knows how I hate that kind of thing. It was horrible. I totally agree with Heigl.

  12. Project Inspired

    Posted by Maddie on February 7, 2012 at 16:43

    I agree with Heigl’s statement. It is very good of her to speak up about this issue instead of passing it off as “just Hollywood”. Too bad “Dance Moms” is still airing. I am praying for these people, especially those on the show. Now, sexualization of young girls begins as soon as they walk. I continually pray for these reality shows and the individuals who star in them. If there’s anyone who can change the hearts of men and women, its God. I’m gonna rely on him for this one.

  13. Project Inspired

    Posted by JennaBel on February 7, 2012 at 14:24

    I’ve never actually seen or heard of this show before, so to get a little background info and reference on it, I looked it up. And now I know, this is disturbing. It’s terrible how they sexualize and treat these young girls. It’s also disgusting, the moves, the outfits, the makeup, EVERYTHING. I heard a mom say in one of the clips “My little girl doesn’t even know what sexy means.” And yet, the little girl is prancing around that stage like a Vegas showgirl in an outfit that shouldn’t even be legal for them to make it in her size. Has our modern society lost sight of the words “modest”, “wholesome”, and “morals”?!?! It’s so, so sad.

  14. Project Inspired

    Posted by Rae on February 7, 2012 at 12:35

    I love Katherine Heigl, mostly for her role in Love Comes Softly. I’m so glad to know that she feels this way! That’s awesome!