Why we need more ballerinas

Published 9:27 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

By Rev. Dr. Chris Surber

In a rump-shaker age, we need more pirouettes.

Nothing brings me more joy than watching my little 6-year-old ballerina’s eyes light up when it’s time for Momma to take her Allongé Dance Academy to learn the form and discipline of classical ballet.

Email newsletter signup

That class is a safe haven for girls, away from the train robbery of feminine innocence currently under way in our culture.

I’m not sure how much lower we can sink when it comes to the exploitation of our daughters. Does a 6-year-old girl really need a string bikini to go to the beach? Should dance studios be teaching 9-year-olds how to twerk?

In a recent post on her blog, Carrots for Michaelmas, Halley Stewart recounted her daughter’s unease at being instructed to sexualize her body in a dance class:

“Mama, I don’t like my recital dance. My teacher told me to shake my booty at the mirror, but that makes me feel embarrassed. I don’t want to do that, but she said I had to because it’s our recital dance. Do I really have to?”

Her mother’s answer was a resounding “NO!”

The early sexualization of girls is not just a moral or religious concern. It is a growing menace contributing to rise of anxiety, mood disorders, self-mortification and a host of physiological and emotional blights on modern femininity.

The American Psychological Association reported its findings on this topic in 2007 in a document entitled, “Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.”

Researchers describe the effect of sexualization in early adolescence on the mental health of girls. Among the consequences of early sexualization is a kind of self-objectification. Girls are trained to view themselves as sexual objects, primarily concerned with how others perceive them physically.

“In addition to leading to feelings of shame and anxiety, sexualizing treatment and self-objectification can generate feelings of disgust toward one’s physical self,” the authors wrote. “Girls may feel they are ‘ugly’ and ‘gross’ or untouchable.”

In the study in which college students were asked to try on and evaluate swimwear, young women, regardless of body size, responded to the experience with feelings of “disgust, distaste and revulsion,” compared with those who tried on a sweater.

The authors speculated that standing alone in a dressing room and seeing their

bodies in the mirror led the young women to imagine critical viewers, and this made them feel not only ashamed but repulsive.”

Ballet is surely not the only cure for the social malignancy on the soul of modern femininity, but it’s a good place to start to think about what we’re doing to our girls. The future mothers of our society are presently being told their worth lies in how they look in the eyes of exploitation, rather than in their inherent value as beautiful creations of God.

We need more ballerinas.

The cited report is available at the American Psychological Association website, www.tinyurl.com/ybybvhy.

The Rev. Dr. Chris Surber is the pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church. Email him at chris@chrissurber.com.