Ashley Wright dances with her toddler on her back in this much-buzzed-about YouTube video.
A video of a mother pole dancing while wearing her toddler in a wrap has ignited discussion online after breaking stereotypes about attachment parenting and for promoting the idea that mothers can be sexual.
Ashley Wright, a self-described “Badass Breastfeeding, Baby-wearing, Attachment parenting, Pole dancing, Yogi Mama,” is a stay-at-home blogger and activist from the San Fernando Valley in California. On March 14, she posted a YouTube video of herself pole dancing to the song “The Circle of Life” with her 2-year-old daughter Shannon secured to her back. The video has garnered nearly 260,000 views along with praise for Wright’s “beautiful” moves — and criticism for exposing her daughter to risqué dancing.
“I’ve been called names like ‘stripper’ and ‘bad parent’ and while I understand, remarks like these are sometimes from people who were taught to shame their bodies,” Wright, a 29-year-old single mother, tells Yahoo Parenting. “People are mostly supportive, though, and say that I’m teaching my daughter how to love herself unconditionally.”
Wright, who was raised by conservative Christian parents in Sun Valley, Calif., got hooked on pole dancing after graduating college. To her, dance is an “organic” communication tool for expressing love with her daughter and, she insists, has nothing to do with attachment parenting, a philosophy that often involves extended breastfeeding and baby wearing. “I am an attachment parent — I am breastfeeding my 2-year-old daughter, we co-sleep, and I wear her in a sling,” she clarifies. “But pole dancing is not a statement about attachment parenting.”
It’s not the first time that Wright has had to take a public stance regarding her dance routine. A video of her pole dancing while six months pregnant with Shannon ignited similar concern despite Wright’s OB/GYN’s medical stamp of approval. And in February, after Wright posted a video of herself pole dancing in her living room with Shannon afoot, online commenters called the interaction “inappropriate” and an example of “bad parenting.” Wright even appeared on the CBS show “The Doctors” to defend her dancing.
In the latest video, Wright strapped her daughter in a six-yard-long wrap (with a technique she calls “double hammock with a chest pass and necktie”) to keep Shannon secure. “She’s not falling out in this thing,” she says. During rehearsals, Shannon slept blissfully on her mother’s back while the pair twirled, bent backward and forward, and climbed the pole. For the performance seen on YouTube, Shannon snacked on freeze-dried mangoes during her ride. “This is normal for Shannon, and she enjoys it so much that says ‘Up, up!’ when she wants to join in,” says Wright.
Still, this may be the mother and daughter’s final performance on the pole. “Shannon isn’t heavy, and although I have years of strength training in order to pole dance while wearing her,” says Wright, “that dance was exhausting.”