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'Mommy and Me' pole dance classes spark debate—instructor says there's 'nothing inappropriate'

“These kids aren’t twerking — nothing inappropriate, nothing sexual is going on here," Tiajuanna “Tia” Harris told TODAY.com

pole dancing for kids, pole dancing near me, pole dancing, kids, parents
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Should there be an age limit for learning pole dancing?

Pole dancing might have previously been thought of as exclusively adult entertainment, but over the years it has evolved into a veritable fitness regimen, an empowering form of self expression and even a sport worthy of the Olympics. In many ways, the more modern perspective has brought pole dancing back to its original, ancient roots of circus performers pulling off acrobatic tricks.

But it might be safe to say that the mainstream still views the dance style as more risqué, and therefore, not appropriate for kids. And this is why a pole-dancing school in Atlanta offering a "Mommy & Me" pole-dancing workshop is sparking a debate online among parents.

In a now-viral post shared on the class’s Instagram account, we see young boys and girls and their mothers learning spinning tricks as "Take Me There" from the 1998 animated movie "Rugrats” plays in the background.

The class was labeled by many as “insane” and inappropriate, arguing that the inherent context of the art form sexualized young kids. Many were even more concerned that the kids were being recorded doing certain moves and that footage was shared online.

“I think it’s very irresponsible of that mommy and me pole dancing studio to record and upload videos featuring kids in their workshops,” one person said on X, adding “it’s even more irresponsible for the mothers to allow their children to be filmed and uploaded on the internet as well.”

Another argued that people who counter that pole is “just like gymnastics’ know dang well that weirdos also watch child gymnastics videos online.”

However, Pink Poles Studio owner, Tiajuanna “Tia” Harris, maintains her stance that there’s nothing wrong with the “Mommy and Me” workshops, and that the backlash is unwarranted.

“These kids aren’t twerking — nothing inappropriate, nothing sexual is going on here,” Harris explained to TODAY.com, recalling how much it “warmed her heart” to receive a call from a mom saying “I wanted to tell you how much my son enjoyed the class. He said he felt like Spiderman.”

Harris further pushed back against critics on the Pink Poles Studios website, assuring that the “Mommy and Me” workshop provides a healthy, fun, phone-free activity.

“Back in the day, before iPads became babysitters, we relished carefree moments—swinging, hanging upside down from the monkey bars, climbing, and sliding down pole climbs and parallel bars at the playground,” she wrote.

“Fast forward to 2024 at Pink Poles Studios: these children are doing the exact same thing! Having carefree fun and staying physically active without electronics — except now, they’re swinging, sliding and flipping on a pole, under the guidance of a trained children’s gymnast instructor (as a bunch of moms and peers cheer them on in the background!)” Harris even stressed that the kids “wear age-appropriate gym wear, and adult students are fully clothed too.”

It’s certainly a dilemma with no easy answer.

On the one hand, the dance world, whether involving a pole or not, has been guilty of sexualizing young kids, and parents rightfully want to protect their children from exploitation. On the other hand, seeing pole solely as a sexually implicit activity—given its history and the way it's expressed worldwide—might be a bit narrow minded and we could benefit from expanding that viewpoint. After all, many report having increased flexibility, core strength, confidence and stress relief from repeated classes.

Either way, Harris has stood firm that her “Mommy and Me” workshops aren’t going anywhere, and that she hopes to “break stigmas and set the bar” by doing so.

Identity

Celebrate International Women's Day with these stunning photos of female leaders changing the world

The portraits, taken by acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker, are part of CARE's "She Leads the World" campaign.

Images provided by CARE

Kadiatu (left), Zainab (right)

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Women are breaking down barriers every day. They are transforming the world into a more equitable place with every scientific discovery, athletic feat, social justice reform, artistic endeavor, leadership role, and community outreach project.

And while these breakthroughs are happening all the time, International Women’s Day (Mar 8) is when we can all take time to acknowledge the collective progress, and celebrate how “She Leads the World.

This year, CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women and girls, is celebrating International Women’s Day through the power of portraiture. CARE partnered with high-profile photographer Nigel Barker, best known for his work on “America’s Next Top Model,” to capture breathtaking images of seven remarkable women who have prevailed over countless obstacles to become leaders within their communities.

“Mabinty, Isatu, Adama, and Kadiatu represent so many women around the world overcoming incredible obstacles to lead their communities,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.

Barker’s bold portraits, as part of CARE’s “She Leads The World” campaign, not only elevate each woman’s story, but also shine a spotlight on how CARE programs helped them get to where they are today.

About the women:

Mabinty

international womens day, care.org

Mabinty is a businesswoman and a member of a CARE savings circle along with a group of other women. She buys and sells groundnuts, rice, and fuel. She and her husband have created such a successful enterprise that Mabinty volunteers her time as a teacher in the local school. She was the first woman to teach there, prompting a second woman to do so. Her fellow teachers and students look up to Mabinty as the leader and educator she is.

Kadiatu

international womens day, care.org

Kadiatu supports herself through a small business selling food. She also volunteers at a health clinic in the neighboring village where she is a nursing student. She tests for malaria, works with infants, and joins her fellow staff in dancing and singing with the women who visit the clinic. She aspires to become a full-time nurse so she can treat and cure people. Today, she leads by example and with ambition.

Isatu

international womens day, care.org

When Isatu was three months pregnant, her husband left her, seeking his fortune in the gold mines. Now Isatu makes her own way, buying and selling food to support her four children. It is a struggle, but Isatu is determined to be a part of her community and a provider for her kids. A single mother of four is nothing if not a leader.

Zainab

international womens day, care.org

Zainab is the Nurse in Charge at the Maternal Child Health Outpost in her community. She is the only nurse in the surrounding area, and so she is responsible for the pre-natal health of the community’s mothers-to-be and for the safe delivery of their babies. In a country with one of the world’s worst maternal death rates, Zainab has not lost a single mother. The community rallies around Zainab and the work she does. She describes the women who visit the clinic as sisters. That feeling is clearly mutual.

Adama

international womens day, care.org

Adama is something few women are - a kehkeh driver. A kehkeh is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi, known elsewhere as a tuktuk. Working in the Kissy neighborhood of Freetown, Adama is the primary breadwinner for her family, including her son. She keeps her riders safe in other ways, too, by selling condoms. With HIV threatening to increase its spread, this is a vital service to the community.

Ya Yaebo

international womens day, care.org

“Ya” is a term of respect for older, accomplished women. Ya Yaebo has earned that title as head of her local farmers group. But there is much more than that. She started as a Village Savings and Loan Association member and began putting money into her business. There is the groundnut farm, her team buys and sells rice, and own their own oil processing machine. They even supply seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture. She has used her success to the benefit of people in need in her community and is a vocal advocate for educating girls, not having gone beyond grade seven herself.

On Monday, March 4, CARE will host an exhibition of photography in New York City featuring these portraits, kicking off the multi-day “She Leads the World Campaign.

Learn more, view the portraits, and join CARE’s International Women's Day "She Leads the World" celebration at CARE.org/sheleads.


Health

Over or under? Surprisingly, there actually is a 'correct' way to hang a toilet paper roll.

Let's settle this silly-but-surprisingly-heated debate once and for all.

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

Should you hang the toilet paper roll over or under?


Humans have debated things large and small over the millennia, from the democracy to breastfeeding in public to how often people ought to wash their sheets.

But perhaps the most silly-yet-surprisingly-heated household debate is the one in which we argue over which way to hang the toilet paper roll.

The "over or under" question has plagued marriages and casual acquaintances alike for over 100 years, with both sides convinced they have the soundest reasoning for putting their toilet paper loose end out or loose end under. Some people feel so strongly about right vs. wrong TP hanging that they will even flip the roll over when they go to the bathroom in the homes of strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely an inconsequential preference. There is actually a "correct" way to hang toilet paper, according to health experts as well as the man who invented the toilet paper roll in the first place.

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Family

Father takes daughter's bullying victim on a shopping trip to teach her a lesson

When Randy Smalls of South Carolina discovered that his teenage daughter was making fun of a classmate over her clothes and makeup, he took swift action.

Randy Smalls of South Carolina

Bullying is a huge problem. According to DoSomething.org, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 in the United States are bullied during the school year, and approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying.

So when Randy Smalls of South Carolina discovered that his teenage daughter was making fun of a classmate over her clothes and makeup, he took swift action.

Smalls instantly felt sympathy for Ryan Reese, a seventh-grader at Berkeley Middle School, having been bullied in his youth. So he took money meant for his daughter and went on a shopping spree with Ryan to get some new clothes and a makeover.

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Image shared by Madalyn Parker

Madalyn shared with her colleagues about her own mental health.




Madalyn Parker wanted to take a couple days off work. She didn't have the flu, nor did she have plans to be on a beach somewhere, sipping mojitos under a palm tree.

Parker, a web developer from Michigan, wanted a few days away from work to focus on her mental health.

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Asexuality is often misunderstood.

In general, it's believed to be the absence of any romantic interest, but asexual identity actually means that a person is not sexually attracted to anyone. Romantic feelings and the strength of those feelings can vary from person to person.

Currently, about 1% of adults have no interest in sex, though some experts believe that number could be higher. For a long time, information on asexuality was limited, but researchers recently have found information that gives us more knowledge about asexuality.

Being asexual can be tough, though — just ask the artists from Empathize This.

To demonstrate, they put together a comic on asexuality, defining it as a sexual orientation, not a dysfunction:

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Family

A study has been following 'gifted' kids for 45 years. Here's what we've learned.

Some of what we used to think about gifted kids turned out to be wrong.


What can we learn from letting seventh graders take the SAT?

In the 1960s, psychologist Julian Stanley realized that if you took the best-testing seventh graders from around the country and gave them standard college entry exams, those kids would score, on average, about as well as the typical college-bound high school senior.

However, the seventh graders who scored as well or better than high schoolers, Stanley found, had off-the-charts aptitude in quantitative, logical, and spatial reasoning.

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via Hunger 4 Words / Instagram

Christina Hunger, 26, is a speech-language pathologist in San Diego, California who believes that "everyone deserves a voice."

Hunger works with one- and two-year-old children, many of which use adaptive devices to communicate. So she wondered what would happen if she taught her two-month-old puppy, a Catahoula/Blue Heeler named Stella, to do the same.

"If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn't they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?" she wondered.

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