Dance Mom Moments

I have already revealed that I find the lobby of my daughter’s dance studio to be one of the most stressful and existential crisis-inducing locations in my life. I am routinely consumed with either irritation toward other mothers or with good old-fashioned self-loathing while waiting for my daughter to get her tap and ballet on. I have come to find, however, that there is one venue worse than the lobby: backstage during the recital. It is basically a horror show of sass, sequins, and skimpy costumes better suited for Vegas than for the body of a child.

I suppose I should have known I was in trouble when I read the informational packet for the recital. In addition to strict guidelines regarding how her hair was to be curled and styled, my four-year-old daughter was instructed to wear red lipstick, brown blush, and black mascara. Say what??!! What is this—Toddlers and Tiaras? Mercifully, she is not quite old enough for the mandated false eyelashes, which is excellent, because I am fairly certain that curling my daughter’s hair alone took five years off of my life. I am genuinely surprised that none of the neighbors called the authorities based on the blood-curdling screams coming from our home. After all, I was “hurting her” and “burning her”— all in the name of beauty, of course. You see, my girl does not love to get done up, my girl loves to dance. And isn’t that what a DANCE recital is supposed to be about?

While I completely recognize that getting gussied up is part of the dance recital package, and that I should know what I’m signing up for and just deal with it, what I find most alarming about the current state of dance lessons is that they no longer focus on the performance. I took dance lessons for the better part of twenty years; I’m simply shocked at how quickly things have devolved in the dance world. Gone are the days of tutus, tight hairbuns and stunning form, technique, and grace. The days of seven-year-olds in hair extensions, costumes with cut-outs and booty shorts, and dance moves that rival Nicki Minaj are upon us. And it freaks this dance mom the heck out!

What freaks me out even more is that (at least from outward appearances,) I appear to be the anomaly—the freak mom in all of this. All of the moms I saw backstage were fully embracing the made up and sexed up component of the recital with enthusiasm. Four and five-year-old girls were in tears as their moms slathered on the makeup, the body glitter, and went cray cray with the hairspray. And for what? Forgive me for overanalyzing here, but what kind of message does this send to our little girls?

I really struggled with getting sucked in, because I didn’t want to seem like that mom. While I did dutifully curl my daughter’s hair, doing permanent damage to her psyche and her trust-level in the process, I steadfastly refused to put make-up on her, judging moms be damned. I honestly didn’t do it to make a point or to push my own philosophical agenda. I didn’t put makeup on my daughter because she didn’t want me to, because she is too young for makeup, and because she is just too incredibly beautiful as she is. I want her to hold onto that for as long as she can. Soon enough, she’ll begin to see the flaws, the differences, the things she wants to cover or enhance. But just for now, I want her to see herself as a breathtakingly beautiful and talented dancer, simply and naturally.

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About Becky Jha

Born and raised in rural Connecticut , Becky DeMattia-Jha attended Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and has her M.Ed. She has been teaching high school English for 15 years and currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband, their two children, and their German Shepherd. She spends her precious summer vacations indulging in passions other than literature: serving as a lactation peer coach, practicing herbal medicine, organic gardening, making natural cleansers and cosmetics, and preparing quick and easy organic recipes for her family. She hopes to share her efficient, chemical-free, eco-conscious, frugal, and simplistic homemaking and homesteading tips with you.

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  1. Thanks for the update. I really appreciate the efforts you have made for this blog.

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