It's sign-up time for all those extra-curricular activities that parents hope will prep their young offspring for a bright future. But never mind piano and hockey.
Now, thanks to a fitness company in Duncan, B.C., cutting-edge parents can sign their eight-year-old daughters up for pole-dancing.
In what seems like the latest unpalatable offering in the trend toward the sexualization of little girls, Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness Studio is advertising hour-long Saturday classes for $70 an hour, with a photo of a little girl in black dance shorts swinging happily around a shining steel bar (the very type on show in the kind of places one would least like to see their little girl.)
But as Kristy Craig, the studio's owner, explained to the Province, she's really meeting a parental demand. "My existing students were asking about it for their children," she explained. "They were saying, 'My daughter plays on my pole at home all the time. I'd love for her to learn how to do things properly and not hurt herself.' "
The class, Ms. Craig said, has students starting at age 5, and includes one boy.
Ms. Craig, who the paper points out, took a class herself to learn pole-dancing four years ago, and never "worked on the pole as an adult entertainer," says the class focuses on pole-dancing as a competitive sport, without the sexual connotations or "adult moves." "The sexuality is being taken out of it," she says. "It's highlighting the gymnastic, athletic and circus acrobatics aspect."
She challenges anyone to come to watch a class.
Ms. Craig's studio is not the first to offer such lessons. As the Province reports, in 2010, another Vancouver studio offered a similar class to underage girls – with group classes starting at age 9, and private lessons as young as five years old. Tantra Fitness owner, Tammy Morris, a former exotic dancer and then the president of the Canadian Pole Fitness Association, told the Province at the time that the kids loved the class – and it was only adults that were making it something salacious.
It's not just Canadian fitness studios offering these classes, either. In London, a studio was criticized for offering the class to girls started at age 3. The issue was also the subject of a documentary, available on YouTube, called Little Spinners, that explored the sexualization of children.
In the documentary, Peter Bradley, the deputy director of Kidscape, a British child protection charity, argues that there are better ways for little girls to spend their time being physically active: "They should be out on the street skipping and having a good time. We don't need to be using poles as an excuse to provide children with exercise."
Sporting or seedy – do you think pole-dancing is an appropriate activity for young kids?