Dance Moms made Abby Lee Miller a household name, but at least one of her students is speaking out against the show that brought them fame.
Sia muse Maddie Ziegler's younger sister Mackenzie released her tell-all book, Kenzie’s Rules for Life: How to be Happy, Healthy and Dance to Your Own Beat, earlier this week. In the book, she admitted that she didn’t like dancing when she joined the show in 2011.
“I didn’t feel like I was good enough,” the 13-year-old wrote, Radar reported Thursday. “I was also really nervous about people watching me on TV. Would they laugh at me? Would I look really stupid up there? I know the cameras would be following us around and catching everything I did and said. I was embarrassed and really insecure.”
Mackenzie didn't mention former teacher Miller by name in the book, but did appear to criticize her harsh teaching methods.
“I always felt like I had to live up to people’s expectations of me,” she wrote. “I thought everyone was constantly judging me, watching each move and tearing it apart, nitpicking everything I did and laughing at me behind my back. The competitive dance world and reality TV can get a little crazy.”
Dancing at such a high level also left her no time to be a typical kid, she complained.
“It was pretty much my answer to every party, play date, after-school activity, you name it: ‘Sorry, I have dance,’” she wrote. “I started to regret not being a ‘real kid’ with a real life. I felt like I had no childhood, and it made me sad and angry.”
She added that the show led to social media bullying.
“People would be so cruel to me in comments,” she wrote. “They would compare me to my sister, saying that I wasn’t as pretty or as talented as Maddie. They called me fat; they said I was ugly and had big bunny teeth that stuck out. They made fun of my costumes and my routines, called me a crybaby and a loser. I felt like I was constantly being attacked. It made me paranoid and insecure.”
Mackenzie added that it took her almost her entire run on Dance Moms to gain the confidence to stand up for herself and quit.
“I was over it,” she said. “I felt like the constant competition life was getting to me too much. It wasn’t fun for me anymore; I was ready to move on and do something else. It was me knowing I was capable of doing so much more in my life and feeling ambitious and a little 'itchy' to branch out. I was ready to move on.”
Miller also moved on from the show, pleading guilty to not reporting an international monetary transaction and one count of concealing bankruptcy assets in June 2016. She was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release in May 2017.
On March 27, she was released from Victorville to a halfway house in Van Nuys, California. It was here she announced she had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She is currently undergoing treatment for the disease.
Photo credit: Lifetime