Maddie Ziegler, the 12-year-old star of the controversial show “Dance Moms,” has become the center of an intense debate over the sexualization of pre-teens. Say what you will, but she’s the nation’s first pre-teen sex symbol, and maybe the start of a new trend.
Ziegler was thrust into national attention by her performance with 28-year-old Shia LeBeouf in a new music video by Sia, featuring her song “Elastic Heart.”
Zieger wore a nude-colored bodysuit and LeBeouf wore nude colored briefs as they battled it out in an lyrical cage fight that included moments of passion, tender embraces and wild dancing.
Ironically, Maddie wore the same outfit and dance wildly in an earlier video for Sia’s song “Chandelier.” It drew nary a peep. But her pairing with LaBeouf sent social media over the top.
Whether it’s art, or kiddie porn, there’s no denying that Maddie was sexualized way beyond her years in the video. After watching it, every 12-year-old in the country seems like fair game sexually, which isn’t as much as an overstatement as it may seem.
In Europe, pre-teen sexualization in the fashion industry has been a growing trend for the past few years. Children as young as 10 have appeared in photo spreads in adult fashion magazines, wearing clothes and make-up fit for a madame’s boudoir.
While it hasn’t really caught on here as a trend, it has surfaced in fashion industry. Cindy Crawford’s daughter, Kaia, caused controversy when she modeled Versace’s children’s line three years ago at age 10. She looked over-sexualized in heavy makeup and a thigh-high skirt.
Crawford briefly declared a hiatus in Kaia’s professional modeling, but she working again, even though she only turned 13 in September.
Overseas, a number of pre-teen models have appeared in adult fashion magazines. At 11, Anais Gallegher, daughter of former Oasis singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher, was also modeling professionally. Supermodel Kate Moss’ half-sister Charlotte Moss, known as Lottie, also debuted as a professional model at 13.
In France, model Thylane Blondeau, the daughter of a well-known soccer player, appeared in Vogue Paris, topless at age 10. She’s now a fashion veteran at 13.
Ziegler began her dance career at age 2 at the Abby Lee Dance Company, which is the setting for Disney’s Lifetime series “Dance Moms.” Among other complaints, critics of the show say pre-teen dancers often perform routines that over-sexualize them.
Ziegler appears on the show with her mother and younger sister, Mackenzie, who is 10.
Maddie’s long-term goal is to be an actress. She scored her first part on the Lifetime series “Drop Dead Diva” in 2012. Ziegler also landed a guest star spot on the Disney Channel show “Austin & Ally,” which will air this year.
But her highest profile job to date has been Sia’s music videos. Her “Chandlier” clip was nominated for Video of the Year and Best Choreography at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. It won for choreography.
Ziegler will get her national coming out party on “Saturday Night Live,” Jan. 17, when she appears with Sia, who will be the show’s musical guest.
Maddie is apparently ready to take a national bow, but is the nation really ready for her?
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