By: Leslie Scott, Founder of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance
As the founder of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD) and on behalf of our community and Advisory Panel, I am thrilled that Curtain Call has answered the call of youth advocacy by becoming the World’s FIRST YPAD Certified Costume Manufacturer! By becoming Certified, Curtain Call leads the dance costume industry by incorporating diversity, inclusiveness and safety in how costumes are designed, photographed and promoted. This is a historical and pioneering moment that raises the integrity for dance apparel around the globe!
The Psychology of Fashion has been a field of study to assist YPAD in understanding the impact of fashion trends on young dancer's emotional health, self-esteem, body image and social media choices. Costume manufacturers influence dance industry trends and the self-esteem and body image of youth. They also influence the costume choices made by the adults in charge of youth dancers. Whether witnessing a stage performance, flipping through a catalog or consuming images of children and teens modeling costumes through social media platforms, costume companies, whether consciously or not, are educating the public on what is appropriate regarding fashion for youth in dance. In that is a call for accountability that we are so encouraged Curtain Call answered with an all-in attitude of excitement and unity!
Over the last decade, some costume designs have started to resemble the mature clothing of adult celebrities and pop stars, but scaled down in size and marketed to children and teens. YPAD has also seen an increase in photographing children and teens in sexually mature positions and equally mature facial expressions. The verbiage used by costume companies during photo or video shoots regarding the aesthetics and abilities of the dancers showcasing their designs are important moments for youth in dance. Certain comments may have a harmful impact on self-esteem and self-compassion. Positive reinforcement based on a dancer's character and work ethic can uplift a dancer's confidence and feelings about their body, self and even each other. The choices of photos, designs and even names of costumes in catalogs send powerful messages regarding gender stereotypes, body image, diversity and more. When YPAD launched the world's first certification training for costume manufacturers that addressed these topics, we were excited to find the right fit for who would be the first to unite with YPAD! Together, we will actively counteract harmful trends and promote diversity, inclusion and holistic wellness, using costumes as the vehicle for change.
Curtain Call not only went through YPAD Certification, but they took it a step further in their genuine care for youth in dance. They partnered with YPAD to conduct market research on how costumes impact body image and what costume designs may be a better choice for children with sensory sensitivities. The result of this endeavor is an icon legend in Curtain Call’s catalog that share with consumers which costumes are sensory friendly, fidget friendly, offer compression, are glitter free and have adjustable straps.
Our belief is dance is for everyBODY, regardless of size, height, shape, ethnicity or ability. As leaders, we can take thoughtful steps to give children a higher chance of success on the dance floor. When they feel confident and secure in their costume they can absorb themselves in self-expression and the joy dance has to offer. I was honored to organize and work with industry experts from YPAD’s Advisory Panel on these important endeavors. I would like to first acknowledge and thank our Advisory Panel Member Lisa Phelps the creator of SB Dance Sugar, a dance advocacy site in Santa Barbara. Lisa is the lead developer of the YPAD Certification and an amazing human and champion of youth in the arts! I would also like to thank Tiffany Prout-Leitao, Tricia Gomez, Katie Gatlin, Misty Lown, Dr. Christina Donaldson, Tomi-Ann Roberts, Ph.D., and Vanessa Terrell along with the Curtain Call team for making this campaign come to life. Tricia Gomez of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance and Katie Gatlin led our committee on costumes for children with sensory sensitivities and the development of the icons I mentioned above. Misty Lown owner of Misty’s Dance Unlimited/More Than Just Great Dancing and (YPAD’s First Visionary Sponsor!), Tiffany Prout-Leitao owner of Center Stage Dance Academy and Vanessa Terrell owner of The Pointe School of Dance spent hours conducting market research on their amazing students. Dr. Christina Donaldson and Katie Gatlin served on our Body Image committee and Tomi-Ann Roberts, Ph.D. served on our committee for Healthy Presentations of Youth in Dance for Print and Media. YPAD Director, Joseph Zanovitch, and myself managed these projects. None of this could be possible without the selfless investment of time and energy on behalf of the YPAD Advisory Panel. For more details on the exact hours and research participants read this awesome blog from Tighe King, Curtain Call’s CEO!
Thank you Curtain Call for being more than costumes, letting kids be kids and always putting the Holistic Wellness of the dancer before potentially harmful trends and profits. Parents, dance teachers and studio owners who want to support dance organizations who represent YPAD Values can trust Curtain Call’s integrity and leadership!