“Dance Moms” use daughters to relive childhood

Amanda Friedman ('14)/Eastside Staff

Little girls compete for awards at dance competitions and beauty pageants all over the United States; however, the girls are not the only ones trying to gain the judges’ approval. Shockingly, so are their mothers.

In the popular television shows “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Dance Moms,” girls, who are barely old enough for elementary school, are pushed to their limits at various talent competitions.  These girls are barely old enough to think for themselves; thus the only person left to think for them is their mothers. Man times, the mothers abuse these privileges and fail to make decisions in the girls’ best interests.

Sometimes a supportive push from parents is productive, but in these cases it is completely unhealthy. Often during the shows, the young dancers state how they have no desire to dance or perform anymore, yet the parents are relentless. Performances and practices become more of a chore than a hobby. “It’s pretty obvious [the girls’] championship dreams are likely more mamas’ championship dreams,” said Anne Reeves, a columnist for The Patriot News.

“Dance Mom’s” Mackenzie Ziegler is one young dancer who partakes in the sport for the joy of it, rather than to pursue it as a career. She said, “I love dancing, but I don’t [want to] go on Broadway. I just [want to] stay at home and eat chips.”

But the real issue is how many mothers ignore the fact that they are trying to relive their childhoods vicariously through their own children. On “Dance Moms,” Kelly, a mother of two children, used to dance at the Abby Lee Dance Company, but quit as a teenager. Now, she forces her two children, Brooke and Paige, to stick with their dance classes, despite their lack of motivation. In “Toddlers and Tiaras,” one of the mothers was even accused of exploiting one girl who was dressed like Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman, a stripper. Even though the costume was completely inappropriate for the three year old, the mom chose to use the outfit anyway just to attract attention. She selfishly dressed her child in revealing clothes just because it might bring them closer to winning a prize.

“Dance Moms” and “Toddlers and Tiaras” attract a lot of viewers, but not because of substance and great programming. The outrageous decisions that the parents make and the way they act are what really draw in viewers. Diane Wert, Television critic for Newsday.com, wrote, “[The show is] inexorably transfixing, whether you’re taking names or taking notes.”

In short, these shows can serve as a warning to parents to make sure that they are not overpowering their children’s lives. Motivation and encouragement are good, but these overly-obsessive mothers need a reality check.