Inappropriate Recital Costume or Prudish Mama?

Hot pink, or fuchsia (as Fancy Nancy would say), is my daughter’s favorite color. But she likes all the shades of pink. And at age three, she already has developed a signature style I still have yet to figure out mine.

Each morning, she selects a shade of pink pettiskirt, a pair of funky leggings, and one of her dozens of pink tops. Add pink socks and her shiny pink sneakers, and she’s good to go.

My mother-in-law bought her a very cute book: I Wear My Tutu Everywhere. Much like my daughter, the pint-sized protagonist likes to wear her tutu…well…everywhere. One day it rips at the playground. Her mom repairs the tutu and then reveals the perfect place for her daughter to exercise her sartorial preferences–Ballet Class.

So, I’m sure you all know what comes next in my little story. Yes, adorable requests for dance lessons.

My daughter had enjoyed a trial class and a birthday party at a local dance school, which is known in the area for taking a very fun, casual approach. They even have story time as part of the class.

Most of the kids started in September but the teachers reassured me there was no problem starting mid-year. All was going well as I paid the various deposits, fees for shoes, costume fees, etc. When I peeked through the window, I was delighted to see her giggling and holding hands with the other kids.

Then, one of the teachers pushed a plastic laminated sheet from a costume catalog into my hands. I froze.

The recital number is the genie’s song from Alladin–an upbeat ditty of magical one-ups-manship.

And the girls will be dressed as “Arabian Princesses” according to the costume’s description. Except the costume seemed more evocative of “Harem Girl” to me. I can’t quite put my finger on what bothered me about the outfit. It was more than just the “bare” midriff (technically not bare since a nude-color mesh actually covers the stomach). I wore bikinis when I was a little girl and the photos of me clearly show a funny, knobby little tomboy. Nothing weird at all.

As one of my friends has pointed out, they are just three and four year old girls who will be bumping into one another and stepping on each others toes and wandering off stage. And the recital is just for their families–nothing exploitative or creepy at all. Still, there was something very “off” about that costume to me.

I’ve since spoken with some of the other mothers–who I assumed had all approved the costume earlier–and discovered at least two others had similar reactions.

I’ve seen some adorable Princess Jasmine costumes for little girls. And I used to dress as Princess Jasmine for kids’ parties when I was a teenager. And it was all, clean wholesome fun.

I’m withholding judgment until I see the costume in person. I’m hoping that when I see it on dozens of fidgety, skinned-knee mini-ballerinas, instead of in a photograph of an airbrushed, posed model, it will be cute.

But if it is not, what do I do? Am I overreacting? Should I ask if I can tie a scarf around her?


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One comment

  1. JCK says:

    These things are so difficult, and I can relate! I think only you can decide what you feel comfortable with.

    My daughter (5) was in a ballet recital this past fall. When we received the instructions for the dress rehearsal/show, (and this had been a very fun, informal class), I was stunned to see that the teacher went into great detail about pancake makeup, red lipstick, and blush. I didn’t know what to do. I felt very uncomfortable. I talked to a couple of other moms. Then I called the teacher and she said…oh, NO, NO, NO…that is just a guideline for the parents who want to do makeup. It was a good talk, and I felt so much better. I decided to compromise, with something I felt comfortable with, and just dabbed a bit of lipstick on my daughter for the show.

    I am sensitive to this subject, too, and have written several posts about the sexualization of our young girls in the commercial media.

    Sorry…wrote a book here. Good luck with your decision! Whatever you decide, it will be the right choice.