Dance Moms is a popular show on The Lifetime Network even though Abby Lee Miller is hardly what one would call a role model. In this age of bullying, adults are expected to defend children from people who make them feel bad about themselves. Many schools even have programs that are dedicated to teaching children to overcome the bystander effect and actually intervene in bullying themselves. If society expects children to interrupt these sorts of negative social interactions how does one permit oneself to watch Dance Moms?
This reality show encourages a woman who verbally abuses minors in ways that could allow her to be sued in many courts in modern society. Given the suicides and drug problems that frequently result from poor self-esteem in young people, adults are somehow alright with allowing a teacher to make fun of a child’s mistakes and even in some cases their physical differences.
The reason that a viewing audience may not consider watching the show to be condoning Miller’s outlandish behavior, is that the price of Lifetime is already included in their monthly cable bill. What they fail to realize is that Miller gets money from Lifetime based upon the ratings Dance Moms receives. If there were no viewers, there would be no ratings and Miller might just need to start treating her students as if they were human beings instead of props. Otherwise, she would have no dancers, no studio, and no income.
Miller is being sued by one of her former students. Thirteen-year-old Paige Highland is suing because Miller breached the contract she and Highland agreed to when the girl enrolled at the studio. According to Highland, in addition to verbally abusing her students, Miller would sometimes pinch them until they bled and would regularly have them dance for 12 hours a day so there would be enough footage for an episode. Once again, this proves that Dance Moms Miller is not a role model; people who deserve that title do not get sued by the people who are supposed to look up to them.
The second big reason that watching Dance Moms is problematic are the claims of former cast member Christi Lukasiak. Namely, that Miller made fun of her daughter Chloe’s lazy eye during the season four finale. She also maintains that Lifetime TV editors cut the scene so it would appear as if Lukasiak was only outraged that Miller harshly critiqued her daughter’s dance performance. After this occurred, Lukasiak decided to find another dance studio for Chloe to attend. Presently, Chloe is doing well at Studio 19 Dance Complex and has recently released a video for the dancer self-esteem website Nobody is You.
Lastly, America has enough problems in the international relations department without Abby Miller adding to it. Earlier this year quite a few dance teachers and parents petitioned their government to revoke the visa granted to the controversial women, after she announced her plan to tour Australia with some of her dancers. The purpose of the tour was to hold competitions, teach classes, and perform in showcases.
The “Revoke the Visa” contingent objected to her teaching style and treatment of students. Some even speculated that her behavior broke Australian laws. Additionally, several Australians were also concerned that Miller advocates non-immunization. Finally, one dance manager revealed that she is still facing backlash from the last visit Miller made to the country.
Dance Moms is a wildly popular show, in spite of Abby Miller’s not behaving in a typical instructor/role model way, one would assume an adult responsible for children (in some cases the same children several afternoons a week) ought to behave. Perhaps this means that society as a whole needs to undergo some serious self-examination.
Opinion by Martina Robinson
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