The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poledancing for fitness

Putting pictures of girls in a dance class on Facebook seems pretty normal, right? While some parents might object to any image of their children circulating on the internet, most people would hardly find this objectionable. But what if these pictures were of girls at a pole dancing class?

A studio in the U.K. offers "pole fitness" classes to children and has put photos of its girl students on its Facebook page. The studio calls these classes a form of gymnastics and says that they focus only on fitness, not on any of the sexiness usually associated with pole dancing. The girls are required to wear tiny shorts and crop tops, but instructors says this is necessary because dancers need to grip the pole with their bare skin.

Although some parents are fine with enrolling their daughters in pole fitness classes and having pictures posted online, others are upset that underaged girls are being depicted in poses usually associated with "gentlemen's clubs."  One commenter likened the Facebook pictures to "child grooming."

But is it really wrong to let children try out a new form of fitness, and then proudly display their accomplishments on social media? For many of these girls, pole fitness classes are probably just a novel form of ballet or ballroom dancing. They lack the context to see pole fitness as risqué, and it's adults who are projecting this image of sexiness run amok onto them.

On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to decouple any form of pole fitness from its origins in strip clubs. One of the sad facts of life is that some people will sexualize girls, and portraying them wrapped around poles while not wearing much only makes a pedophile's job easier.

So maybe Facebook pictures of girls in pole fitness classes is a bit much. But let's not discourage them from staying active and expressing themselves by blowing a dance class out of proportion.

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

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