Toddlers & Tiaras

Flicking through a magazine with the girls last week and we came across a picture of a young girl (maybe 3 or 4) with bleach blonde hair, glitzy pink dress, perfect teeth and a full face of makeup. The girls looked disgusted; straight away I knew it was from the hit show Toddlers and Tiaras, broadcasted to over 2 million people every week across America. Now I can say, I am slightly guilty of watching this online. It fascinates me the way these mothers take pageants so seriously, spending thousands of dollars on dresses and taking up every weekend for their child to compete and maybe win a pageant. It comes across as almost an addiction, the more their children compete, the more these parents want them to do it again. But is this really ok to dress children up like this – flippers (fake teeth), padded dresses to make them look like they have a chest, multiple spray tans and trips to the nail salon?

 There has been so much controversy over the show in the past 3 years since its debut in 2009. There are obviously going to be a vast number of people who disagree with this kind of treatment on children, but then who is it to blame, the mother or the child? I mean, what is the problem if the children genuinely enjoy doing it, but after all it is the mothers who have introduced them to pageants. The majority have been thrown into competing in them since they were babies, so they don’t really know any better. One view I read on who strongly disagreed with these pageants – clinical social worker Mark Sichel, “Little girls are supposed to play with dolls, not be dolls”. He also goes on to add “it is a form of child abuse”. Now I’m not saying he is wrong, these children seem to be robbed of their childhood by practicing for pageants and not having time to do normal things like play with their friends, but his background of work easily influences his opinion. I personally would not go to the extent to say that it is a form of child abuse.

On the other hand, these children are well-known and gain much publicity. For example Eden Wood aged six has been described as “Americas Sweetheart” and is one of the most famous young pageant contenders. She has her own website, book, has made many TV appearances on programmes – Good Morning America, Today Australia, Nightline, also appearing with Perez Hilton on his online blog. It doesn’t stop there! She has her own merchandise, has started to bring out her own music and has starred in low-key films. I think she is far too young for all the publicity she is receiving. In the end her mother is benefiting greatly from the money she wins and the name she is making for herself, but is she doing it for her own enjoyment or thinking about her daughter’s future?  I can’t come to a decision to clarify whether I think it is right or wrong, but I feel it should be seriously looked into, the fact these children are being brought up to care more about their looks and when their next spray tan is, rather than simple things such as who is going out to play after school.

One Response

  1. It’s disgusting that mother’s think it’s okay to make their daughters do this. I’ve seen images of girls doing Pageants who are five and look about 20 post make up etc. It’s horrific.

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