Thursday, September 3, 2009

Take the Tiara off that Toddler!

I was half asleep last night, clicking through the channels, when I came across a show I found absolutely appalling. It's called "Toddlers and Tiaras" and is aired on TLC. Upon further research I found that the show, in its second season, follows the toddler beauty pageant circuit. TLC bills it as a look at passionate moms who "glam" up their little divas adorning them with spray-on tans, fake eyelashes, fingernails, and more make up than most adults wear for a night out. (Sadly, think JonBenet Ramsey)

The part of the show that I saw, featured the performances of girls as young as four. They were doing the "shimmy shake" and dancing around like they were strippers in some gentleman's club. "THEY WERE FOUR!" The little girls had on so much make up that they they looked plastic.

In the older category (11-13 year olds) the girls were dressed suggestively and looked 30. If that isn't horrifying enough, their mothers were standing by, some dancing their routine on the sideline as the girls performed on stage. One child's mom made a scene because the music died when her daughter started her performance and she could be heard yelling above the crowd for her little girl to get off set.

Lest you think this is just some isolated beauty pageant that is being exploited by a cable network, think again. According to the TLC website this season will focus on the Hawaiian pageant circuit and the Gold Coast Pageants that inspired the movie Little Miss Sunshine. (now I know why that is one of my favorite movies) These pageants are making millions and hundreds of little girls are being exploited each year.

While I have never been blessed with children I have to pause when I see this kind of program and ask: "What the heck is wrong with the mothers who would do this to their own child?' We've talked about child abuse this week and in my opinion this is an example of the worst kind of abuse. There is a problem in this country with an oversexualization of young girls, and for many of them, this kiddie beauty pageant circuit is where it starts.

When a mother parades her daughter around as a sex object before she is old enough for grade school, it is NOT normal. I find it unbelieveable that any responsible parent would want middle aged men glaring at their skimpily clad daughter, and that they would encourage it by making their baby up to look like a young adult. (and there were middle aged men in the TLC crowd, glaring on as these girls danced.) Calling Doctor Phil, Calling Doctor Phil! We've got years of therapy ahead for these poor children.

Sadly, I think TLC is first, trying to make a buck, and secondly trying to expose these mothers who have twisted the reality of their children's worlds. However, they're doing it at the expense of the children who they feature. I'm concerned that those who are prone to engaging in this type of exhibitionism will see this show as yet another chance for even more exposure for their daughters, which will likely make many more people want to be a part of it.

What happened to the idea of innocence and purity for little children? Is it just another Biblical concept that society wants to throw away? While I may not be a fan of beauty contests in general, at least the young adult women are making up their own minds that this is where they want to be. (although I realize many of them started as a child) However, for these little girls , a desire to dress up and please mommy, is taking them down a dark road that can destroy their values and self worth.

It's not only sad when some adult woman parades a toddler on stage and television so she can somehow fufill her own dream of being adored by the masses, I believe it's criminal. I only hope that as TLC kicks off this second season of Toddlers and Tiaras, the response is dismal, and this season will be the show's last.

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