Jan 28, 2012

How sexy is too sexy?

I'd like to introduce Jenny Hall, writer of the Ice Charades  blog, and one of the people who was really supportive of me when I started blogging. Jenny was a show skater (hey IS a show skater--once a show skater always a show skater or so my daughter says) and wrote the popular (and funny) novel Ice Charades. For any of you that have or are a skater thinking of going into an ice show, you may want to stop by her blog once in a while. She wants a caveat on that, though, "most of my musings on ice show life are anecdotal and decades old, but it's a start."

Jenny brings up an important issue, especially obvious this week, with some very suggestive skating from some very young skaters at U.S. Nationals.
So here's my theory ... I got to thinking about it because my 8 yr old is starting to recognize the term “sexy.” She knows that this is something not for kids and she is asking about it. Living in Germany, we are probably faced with this more than other places. On the train for example, on our morning commute to school, someone will be reading an article in the financial section of how the euro's going to implode, with a naked model suggestively posing next to it. Women sunbathe topless in the park near our apartment, while kids up to 8 yrs old swim naked in the river (when it is warm, which it almost never is, which is why we see them naked, rather than being up to their necks in the water.) And of course, there's the infamous Reeperbahn Street on our way into town that is filled with clubs and bars with the word “sexy” adorning them. Right by the Beatles Museum we went to.

I didn't think this would happen until the teenage years, but I bet I'm way off on that. And I'm wondering how to deal with this. My theory is that because I performed to quasi-sexy songs (think Chicago's “All That Jazz”) it welcomes my daughter into the quasi-sexy performance aspect (she takes dance classes). Remember the You Tube video that went around and people were upset by the little 6-8 year old darlings dancing to Beyonce's “Single Ladies” rather suggestively? Gotta say, I was impressed with those high kicks, but I wonder, what's their behavior off the dance floor like? Did dancing to songs help or hinder their attitude?

A performance is just a performance, right?  Or was I just too much of a band nerd that I couldn't have been promiscuous if I tried.

Has anyone else had that experience with their skating son or daughter? Where do you draw the line on "adult content" in skating programs?


  1. Where do I start?! 10 year olds skating to the sound track to Black Swan... Oh, and 8 year olds skating at Christmas...All I want for Christmas is You and Santa Baby?!

    Those are pretty mild examples, I can't think of the really blatant ones off the top of my head. What comes to mind is Dance Moms last season...child abuse and abduction? Probably done more for ratings, but still, these kids danced it...really horrendous...

    It happens all the time. Our kids are growing up way to fast. They see so much on TV and in print. For our skating club photo, we had a couple of 12 year olds posing pretty provocatively, lying in the front of the group on the ice yikes! They don't really get it yet, just that they see it in print and it looks cool. People around them respond to the print ads, so they emulate the models.

    In general, I think that the younger ones don't understand what they are skating to when age inappropriate music is chosen for them. Kids are such mimics. They do what they are shown and get positive reinforcement for it. I really haven't seen the behavior carry over into their regular lives. They are still little kids off the ice.

    I wish some coaches and parents would wake up and realize that there are so many ways to appropriately show off your skater. Off the top of my head, examples come to mind in the Novice and Intermediate "men" programs from Jr. Nationals this year and last, some of the boys are very young, but they are doing things like race cars, dragon tamers and video game characters. And winning I might add. Totally age appropriate and really good, solid programs! Why can't we do that for our girls?

    I'm all for letting our kids be kids as long as they can, unfortunately that means no media, and blindfolding them when walking out in public for all the ads that are out there. I know I'm in the minority, but I am glad I fought for keeping my child's innocence for as long as I could. He had as much of an "old fashioned" childhood as he could in this day and age, and I do not regret it one bit.

    There is plenty of time for him to do Tangos and Carmen and Bolero, Grease, Bacchanal etc later in his skating career. Luckily his coaches are very mindful of this.

    I help with the club competitions and there are countless times we hear judges (and other parents) commenting on the age-inappropriate dress or music. Note: Some judges do score those Baby Evitas lower because of this.

    Maybe that is the only way to stop the "sexploitation" of our kids, hit them where it counts, in the placements...

    {climbing down off of my soap box now...}

    1. More people need to be on this soapbox. The Ice Rink of the Damned did All the Single Ladies for one of the high groups with children as young as ten, complete with suggestive choreo. ALL the mothers complained, but not to the coach, just to me, and only one of them pulled their child from the group. Nothing will change as long as we don't vote with our wallets, or complain up the hierarchy until someone actually listens.

    2. At our rink last year, the Ice Babies class (Snowplow Sam levels, 3-5 year olds) performed to "Santa Baby" at the Holiday Show. I was wondering if the coaches and the skating director have actually listened to the song, or just read the title :-)

      This year, the FreeSkate class performed to the same song, and my 5 year old was in that class. I must say, I didn't see much harm in it. I don't think my daughter cared much about the words. She just enjoyed skating. However, when the song is age-appropriate and she does care about it, and she feels the character, she skates much better. But the class performance was not a big deal to us, so that's why I didn't say anything.

      Maria, mom of 2 skaters: FreeSkate 4 and Basic 3

  2. My nine year-old daughter is doing her first programme this year. We don't get to choose music, the coach does that. She chose an instrumental piece from Snow White that I didn't recognize. My daughter's costume is a pretty long sleeved dress that is completely appropriate.

    When she was 8, she briefly took Hip Hop dance classes. I don't consider myself to be a prude, but I didn't care for kids that age doing pelvic thrusts and moving their hips in a suggestive way. I pulled her from the program and told the Director why. She seemed to think I was overreacting but I really didn't care.

    I've never seen a suggestive program or dress on any of DDs coaches higher level skaters, so I think we're fine. If I ever objected to a music selection I'd say so.

    1. Deb, you can bet that if enough moms pull their kids from programs like that *and tell the director why* those programs will change. It's all about the bottom line.

  3. It is a fear of social consequences that keeps people from complaining. You don't want to make your child a pariah, you don't want a reputation as "one of those moms," you don't want to seem like a prude.

    But trust me, more people feel this way than don't. I know because I publish my email and I get a LOT of mail asking "what can I do."

  4. I am kind of new age when it comes to this stuff I think kids can do whatever they want for the sake of the performance. Would i condone this kind of dancing or behavior outside of the rink or outside of dance class absolutely not. But they are playing a character. for example if your 13 year old is skating to music from evita she needs a something to be a convincing ava peron. I think that it is really fine as long as it's in the sake of performance.

  5. I personally don't like to see too much sexy skating or dancing coming from anyone, regardless of age. But I do think that there is a difference between having fun or being in character and being inappropriate. It's one thing to do a little booty-shaking to an upbeat song, and another to dance like a stripper.

    I don't know that I can definitively describe where the line is, but it's fairly obvious when someone crosses it. (Think Michael Jackson's crotch grabs, and Florent Amodio's.)

    I think this is something that ice dancers constantly have to deal with, because they are supposed to show that connection between men and women. But there are ways to show that without being inappropriate (like Meryl and Charlie). I really enjoy watching the Shibutanis...their programs are entertaining and they work well together without looking inappropriate (even harder when you're related to your partner!).

  6. Thanks everyone for weighing in. S8rmomp, I think you are exactly right, kids are growing up too fast.

    Another point I think you have all touched on is you don't have the strength and technique in your skating, don't hide behind "sexy."

    That is my beef these days with some pop stars that made it because of their talent and then they think bare skin and cleavage will sell the videos. (Although that sounds about right.)

  7. I agree with the last comment, I don't like the sexy writhing from skaters of any age. I don't think its neccessary or particularly attractive, and it encourages those who persist in claiming figure skting isn't a sport.

    1. Please tell Yevgeny Plushenko! ;)

  8. We are lucky to have coaches that let me and my daughter come up with music suggestions and then the coach picks from that list. I admit I do feel weird when I see 8 year olds skate to "fever" or other not kid friendly music. If dd feels the desire to try new dances to that kind of music, I'd rather she did it at a sleep over with her friends than in front of 50-100+ strangers on the ice. ~Meg