'Toddlers & Tiaras' and tantrums – Oh, my...

You may have read reports featuring the little girl dressed as Julia Roberts' hooker-with-a-heart character in "Pretty Woman." The little girl wore the costume as part of the competition for one of the pageants featured on the show, "Toddlers & Tiaras."


The controversy centered around the fact that the child was dressed as a streetwalker, and many saw that as inappropriate. Then there was the kid who was dressed as Dolly Parton, complete with large breasts. Many people also saw this as not appropriate for a small child. Both girls are under 5 years old. 


The hit show on TLC has become a phenomenon itself. It captures the drama behind the scenes as mothers and often even fathers become engaged in the competitive world of child beauty pageants. To compete, the girls often wear lots of makeup, hair pieces, fake nails and teeth, and over-the-top dresses and costumes. And oh, the spray tanning that goes on. Lots of spray tanning.


Perhaps the biggest complaint from those opposed to the show is the "sexualizing" of these little girls. Critics say the little girls grow up confused as to why the fake teeth, called flippers, and spray tans make them somehow better.


There are those who say the pageant circuit teaches the girls to be confident, and develops poise. Proponents of the show say that for the girls who participate, pageants are their sport – and they argue that if the girls were playing a sport like soccer, no one would question it.


The show has been on the air for about three years now, so it's too early to tell the effects of being a toddler with a tiara. So any assessment, at this point, would be more opinion than anything else.


So, in our humble opinion, let's look at what we do know. We know that many young teen girls these days are obsessed with body image. Where do they get their twisted views? Hollywood, movies, magazines, television, etc. Case in point, the recent issues suffered through by Disney darling Demi Lovato. 


In the years to come, we would imagine there will be tons of young ladies in rehab, blaming their pageant years. Their issues will not only include body image, but self esteem, parent/child issues, warped self image, etc. The list could go on and on. How do you deal with feeling like you're just not good enough if you can't win all the time? These girls will need help dealing with this.


One of the biggest issues we saw on the TLC show was that the mothers seemed to be living out their fantasies through their children. Shouldn't this type of thing be about what the kids want? Over and over, moms said that if their children didn't want to "do pageants" any more, they'd quit. But would they really? The children in this case, are probably doing the pageants more for parental approval than anything else.


Mamas, don't let your children grow up to enter pageants. They're just not all they're cracked up to be – at least not in our humble opinion. Invest in your children and in their potential – but let them decide what's right for them. Let them dream and help them fulfill their dreams – not yours.

Published Wednesday, September 14, 2011 1:18 PM by bulldog
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