As I am reading, and reviewing a book for my blog http://booksandopinions.com, I am seeing how the information I am putting out there is really suited in many ways for this blog as well. So I am going to switch it up a bit, but here is the gist of it.
I am reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter, by Peggy Orenstein. It was a Christmas present from my 21 year old daughter. The premise of it is basically how companies continue to market to girls at younger and younger ages, creating the word ‘tweens as a demographic group that did not even exist two decades ago. As a mother of 4 daughters, I can see snippets of myself all over this book.
I recently just finished reading a section that went into great detail the author’s experience at child beauty pageants. I do not watch Toddlers and Tiaras or any other reality shows about children’s beauty pageants, but I have the general idea of what is going on there. All the Mom’s insist that their daughters want to do these pageants. As soon as they want to quit we are done. This is good for them. etc, etc.
Now I am not bashing these beauty pageants or the parents who encourage their daughters to participate. It strictly brought to mind the 9 months my youngest daughter spent doing Irish Dancing. Keep in mind that no matter how big the award you win for Irish Dancing is, there is never (NEVER) any money prizes involved. You get trophys, medals, and ribbons. No cold-hard-cash to help offset the cost of the dresses, shoes, wigs, hotel rooms, price of gas travelling, etc. I have to say I was keeping track of what kind of money I was investing, but I don’t have it handy right now and I never added it up. But here’s the scenario:
I asked my 12 and 9 year old if they want to do Irish Dancing. 12 year old, maybe, 9 year old, definitely. The 9 year old gets registered ($55.00) and cost of class is $75.00 a month (for 1 hour every Monday). Soft shoes needed; new $55.00+, used, I got a pair for $15.00. School dress is needed $; said school dress needs to go to person to embroider school pattern on dress $, socks are needed, $10.00 a pair. We need to travel 3 ½ hours away for a fundraiser $$$ gas, Hotel, food, etc. Now she needs hard shoes; $115.00+ new, I get a used pair for a steal at $85.00. We need to drive 3 hours away for a practice session for 1 hour. Oh, wait. We are going to do the summer classes at our studio 45 minutes away from you; I pay someone gas money weekly to transport child. August comes, child has worn hard shoes 3 times, and decides she is done.
Was I mad? not at all. Upset? Nope. Disappointed? A little. I had to make it clear to her that at her age, this was not something she could quit for a year and then get back into; she would be farther behind than she would like, and competing against kids much younger than her.
She never looked back, and neither have I. But I am still the proud keeper of a school dress, soft shoes, hard shoes, socks, and a wig that I need to take 10 minutes to put on Ebay and sell.
The whole experience was definitely a learning one for both (all) of us. I know if I hadn’t asked, she never would have approached me and said “Mom, I want to do Irish Dancing”. I am not 100% sure she even knew what it was before she started. So as I read through what appears to me to be horror stories of kids and pageants, I realize I was likely at the beginning of mine, but luckily my little girl threw the brakes and we got off that ride. It takes a special kind of family life and commitment to have a child enrolled in something like pageants, sports, music, or dancing. As a single full-time-working Mom, I think the more experienced she became, the thinner I would be getting stretched.